Why do we like sweets? What is it about desserts that draws us in and makes us want to keep eating it? Is our desire for sweets inherently bad?
These are some of the questions I have had during this sugar cleanse. When you have an overgrowth of yeast in your body, it will crave and demand that you eat sugar to keep it alive. That yeast is fighting for survival and will use your cravings to try to control what you eat. Others have an almost drug-like dependence on sugar, using it to feel good, and keep a sugar high to get through the day.
For me, my desire for sweet has mellowed down a lot in recent years. I even did a lab test that checked my bacteria counts in my digestive tract to make sure that they were healthy and that I didn’t have a yeast overgrowth (everything looked good). But I still like a little sweet in my diet. In recent months, I’ve enjoyed them a little too much, so getting back to a serving of fruit a day has been really good for me. It’s made me pay attention to when I want something sweet. Sometimes it’s just for the enjoyment of it, other times, it’s because I am tired and looking for a pick-me-up. Now that I’ve been carefully only eating an apple or orange here and there, when I have a banana, or a Nut Butter Banana Smoothie, it seems so satisfyingly sweet.
I know that many of you, and some of my fellow bloggers are against fruit or any added sweeteners in general. There are some important arguments to be made in that direction. Yet, when I consider the fact that from birth we are attracted to sweet-the taste of our mother’s milk, I wonder if a complete denial of sweets is……natural. Granted, there are many sweet things to be found in nature that don’t contain a high glucose or fructose count. Cooking methods can help bring out the sweetness of certain vegetables too. Caramelized onions give a lot of sweetness, for example. I don’t know about you, but I would hate to leave sweetness completely behind. I just don’t want my taste buds high-jacked by refined sugar, or even too much natural sweeteners.
Perhaps some ancient Hebrew proverbs on honey are helpful, whether or not you are Jewish or Christian.
“My son, eat honey, for it is good, and the drippings of the honeycomb are sweet to your taste.” (Proverbs 24:13)
Honey, in its pure, raw state is full of incredible nutrients and enzymes, and it is “sweet to your taste”. This proverb tells us to enjoy this wonderful food. If you are in the camp that says, “Never have any sweetener, natural or not”, this proverb is one for you to consider. Eat, honey, for it is good.
But if you’d like to run with that proverb and make it your eating motto, consider the following two proverbs that balance the first one out a bit.
If you have found honey, eat only enough for you, lest you have our fill of it and vomit it. (Proverbs 26:16)
It is not good to eat much honey, nor is it glorious to seek one’s own glory. (Proverbs 25:27).
Moderation is the key. It is not glorious to seek one’s own glory, and it is not good to eat too much honey. If you have honey (which, admittedly we all have access to a lot of honey, or whatever other sweeteners we want), don’t eat too much. In our times, eating moderately every time we come across something sweet is a bad idea. A little cake there, a blended drink here, a cookie there, ends up piling up into a lot of sweetness. Our ideas of moderation are probably quite different from ancient standards!
Eat honey, for it is good, but don’t eat much of it!
In the end, I don’t feel obligated to never have a naturally sweetened treat, or a ripe luscious fruit. I think that our desire for sweet is a natural, and good phenomenon that helps us enjoy really great food. But I also recognize that in our world, it can be difficult to truly eat moderately of sweets. For us, making most of our food at home has been key to controlling that. Secondly, a little dose of self-control has been in order too.
That’s why I love doing a cleanse once a year (at least). It helps me practice self-control, which spills out into the rest of my year. It also helps reset my taste buds so that I can truly enjoy moderately sweetened food.
My sweet little daughter is off of sugar and fruit, with the exception of a little applesauce, for a couple of months. This means that my consumption of sweets is naturally cut-down. But once things are back to normal, I am going to reinstate our once a week dessert. During the week we can have in-season fruit, and then on the weekend, I will make a dessert that we can really enjoy. We’ve found that if we know that we are having a dessert on the weekend, it gives us something to look forward too and help us not feel deprived in anyway.
Moderation is key, yet can be so hard to achieve.
A final proverb to consider:
“One who is full loathes honey,
but to one who is hungry everything bitter is sweet.” Proverbs 27:7
If we are overfed, especially if we are overfed on highly sweetened processed foods, we may find that we don’t enjoy moderate sweets. Our problem is not that we can’t enjoy moderation, it’s that we are simply full too often. Every year I am struck with the thought that while it can be so hard for many Americans to say “no” to the abundance around us, so much of the world just wants to eat and be full. So, if you are finding that it is hard to enjoy moderate sweets, or, for that matter, healthier “clean” foods, just perhaps, you aren’t hungry enough. Hunger, after all, is the best sauce.
Do you have any thoughts to add to my musings?
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This was timely as we have cut all sweets from our diet for awhile too. We are having a little low sugar fruit like apple and berries in small amounts. The last time we did this I saw such a difference and I think a longer term approach will be helpful. But I agree with you, unless it’s medically necessary, God made honey and fruits for a reason. It seems like common sense to allow them in moderation!
I am allowing a small amount of stevia for special treats. A little cup of hot chocolate each day has helped the withdrawals so much! 🙂
Jennifer @ The Unrefined Kitchen
I love this post! Thanks, Kimi! I for one have noticed a huge difference in how I feel cooking with raw honey vs. cooking with refined sugars.
check out this great post on honey -just came out today too
Right on! I totally agree.
I’ve been doing the sugar fast and last night I noticed that cooked pinto beans tasted sweet to me. It seemed like someone had added sugar to them (of course no one did, because I cooked them).
Holly @ Faithful Womanhood
I nixed all sugars except those found naturally in fruit (and limited those as well) for the month of January. The main goal behind this was for me to learn self-control and curb my sweet tooth. I never imagined I would feel so much better! Now I am allowing myself sweets in moderation (trying to limit to mostly natural sweets as well, not refined). I appreciate this post and the Scripture included!
I have had similar struggles knowing which sweets to allow, if any at all. The conclusions I came to were much the same as yours: natural sweeteners in moderation are, in fact, a good thing. This doesn’t mean I need something sweet everyday, but once or twice a week is good. Not only do my children crave sweet treats, but my husband and I do, too. I have found that naturally sweetened treats in moderation help me and my family feel satiated and ready to continue our healthy lifestyle; it keeps us balanced and committed to healthy, nutrient-dense food. Otherwise we crave unhealthy processed food, and lose our way for a little bit.
I have experimented a lot with natural sweeteners, and I’ve come up with and come across several good recipes. They’re posted on my website if you’re ever interested in taking a look. Thanks for the post. I enjoyed it.
I don’t believe sweets are the problem. Processed food is the problem. In my view, the reason we desire sweetness is because of our relation to frugivorous apes. The reason sweetness is “bad” is largely because it’s a marker of low quality processed food. If you were to eat most of your calories as fruit, I doubt there would be any problem whatsoever.
My husband says, ” Everything in moderation” Even too much fruit sends me into a tail spin. What a blessing that God who created us and provides such a wide variety of foods for us gave us fuits and honey as well as vegitables, herbs, nuts and meat. I thank God that unlike the apes, he made me in his image to reason and observe how my body is responding to the foods I eat. Every time I eat a piece of fruit it reminds me of my loving creator and savior Jesus Christ.
God Bless you and guide you Joe
Too much fruit in what context? Have you ever tried a high simple sugar diet. You might be surprised.
Isn’t it wonderful how the Bible even tells us how to enjoy sweet honey.
My husband and I are on our 4th day of cutting out grains, sugar, and limiting to 1 serving of fruit per day (apples mostly so far). We both need to lose some weight and it’s exciting because this is the first time he’s been on board and joined with me. (We’re still letting our boys have bread and fruit-sweetened jam, but otherwise no other sugars.)
It’s always been a struggle for me to enjoy sweets in moderation but whenever I do commit to a cleanse, even if only for a week, I immediately feel so much better and have much more energy, and need less sleep! Which means I’m more productive, cheerful, and have that confidence boost of looking better and maintaining a healthier weight.
So thank you for your wealth of healthy recipes and tips, they are such an encouragement and great resource when I am looking at how to make delicious foods for our diet.
Great post and good application of the Proverbs. Wonderful truthful tidbits of wisdom.
sweet article! wuz thinking about the locust John the Baptist likes to have with his honey…
Since I have candida, I have been following Bee Wilder’s “Healing Naturally by Bee” program. It is low carb and high fat (80% of my calories come from fat). and it is ‘no sugar’.
One item she likes us to have is her ‘egg drink smoothie’ which is made of eggs, melted coconut oil (on her pgm, we have 5.5 Tbsp CO/day), butter and spices.
Some smart person took that and froze it in to ‘ice cream’! And it really hits the sweet spot for me. This is the last recipe I used, but I’m still tweaking it a bit…
400 grams eggs (about 8 large)
3 cubes butter (1.5 cups)
4 vanilla beans
1 ‘scant’ tsp sea salt
1/2 tsp stevia, the green powdered organic stuff
1 tsp lemon juice, optional
I drop the butter cubes in to a stove-safe pot and set on stove to melt on low heat
Scrape the stuff out of the vanilla beans and add to the melting butter
add the salt and stevia also to the melting butter
crack eggs in to blender decanter
add melted butter mixture
add lemon juice (optional but adds a ice zip)
blend well. I process this in an ice cream maker. then freeze.
Of course, you can half this to start. Since I like it, it makes more sense to me to make lots of it at one time.
We are experimenting with freezing in individual dishes so we don’t have to keep getting the whole container out, letting it soften in order to scoop then refreezing.
Someone just shared with me today that she used more vanilla (5 beans?) and more stevia and was very happy with the results. The original ‘egg drink smoothie’ calls for cinnamon and nutmeg but i didn’t want to get ‘so wild’ with my first batch of ‘ice cream’ so that the kids would for sure -not- like it, lol.
Oops! Forgot to mention the butter is unsalted…
I love this idea! I’m on the candida diet as well, week 4 actually but I’ve been battling it for 3 1/2 years. I love ice cream and sometimes just really wish I could sit and eat a little bowl of it. I’d love to make this but I noticed the smoothie uses coconut oil but the ice cream uses butter. Is it 1.5 cups of melted butter? I wonder if it can be made with coconut oil since it’s healthier?
Coconut oil is necessarily healthy than butter, both have important nutrient profiles that differ from each other. I would most likely make this with half butter and half coconut oil only because we make raw butter with the cream from our own cows and I like to save the butter for on sourdough bread.
Yes, since I am a beekeeper and a nutritional therapist, I have made up a pamphlet on the health benefits of honey. There are too many to name here but one is healing skin burns or sores of any kind and another is the mineral and enzymes from raw strained(not expelled which heats it) honey. It is a fermented food as the enzymes from our mouth mix with the enzymes the bees have put in it from their mouths and voila! we have this enzyme rich food which feeds the gut, and yes it does help the stomach and intestines to heal without the volcanic reaction of table sugar. Oh yes, taken an hour before bed will help you sleep better. Use it in some cooled chamomile tea to relax as you read, then nitey nite!
I heard about the “honey tea” for good sleep and have been doing it a couple months now. It’s amazing how it works. As an exhausted mom of little ones, I know I’m not alone in often doing things right up to bed time. I love how it allows me to “come down” from my day and sleep easily when I don’t have time to relax. I do about a scant tsp in 4 oz warm (not hot) water and drink it right before brushing my teeth and going to bed.
Thank you for a great post on sweets. I know I need to give up sugar (in moderation), but the desire and strength to do so can only come from God. Thank you for your encouragement. 🙂
Thank you for this post. I, too, am on the candida diet so I’ve been without sugar and most fruits for almost 4 weeks! So proud of myself but know I couldn’t do it without God’s strength.
What cleanse are you doing?
Claire @ massage therapy
In Chinese medicine we believe it is important to eat a balance of the five flavours: salty, pungent, bitter, sour and sweet. The flavour of ‘sweet’ relates to the spleen and digestive system. So sweet is important. However an overemphasis on sweet can weaken the digestive system and cause problems such as candida. Some people constituntionaly have a weaker digestive system and so for them staying away from sweet foods will be beneficial this even includes too much honey and fruit. Seasonal local fruit is always better then tropical fruit out of season.
The problem in today’s world is that there are so many artificial sweet tastes. When you eat a natural balanced diet you will find sweetness in things such as squash, corn, sweet potatoe. It is very much common sense too much of a good thing can be bad.
I love honey and all of the sweetness it brings to life. Just like everything, moderation is key (like you said)!
Beautiful post and amazing photo! I like the idea of dessert only on the weekends. I’m going to adopt it. Perhaps adding a piece of bittersweet chocolate sometimes during the week. My mom used to do this and most of the time I would even forget about it even when the weekend came. So when I asked it would be a spontaneous toast with jam. I’ve wrestled with the thought that maybe my children (particularly my sweet-toothed son) will overindulge when he is older if I limit sweets now. But I think that in either case, those kids who are sugared up or those whose parents modify their sugar intake will have to make the choice for themselves when they are older. And at least I am doing my part to keep sugar from taking over as it tends to do (very quickly) and show him the right path and that he can do it and be healthy and happy.
Totally with ya, Kimi. We will be going on the mission field full time, and our outlook on food is sure to change with the limited options and poverty.
Fell off the bandwagon this week, hard. I haven’t been doing the sugar cleanse, but I have been actively cutting back on my sweets since the Christmas Office Binging Season.” However, due to family and several factors, I got to bed pretty late on Sunday, and I have to get up early to get to work on time, starting Monday. So, I was pretty tired, and let myself have a coke to help with flagging energy Monday afternoon. Another late night on Monday, and I needed help again getting through the day. Same thing yesterday. Today, after yet another late night, and another coke at lunch, I fell harder this afternoon, starting with one tootsie roll. Those things are the worst kind of addictive. Five sweet treats later, I was embarrassed that I couldn’t make myself stop! It’s the worst kind of vicious cycle, and tonight, it STOPS. I am going to have breakfast for dinner, as eggs always seem to rebalance my blood sugar, and then it’s early to bed, no matter what. I only have to make through a half day tomorrow, and am planning on coming home and taking a nap. Your posts have reinspired me to get back on track!
thanks for letting me vent!
I have thought it interesting how God illustrated the land full of blessings for the Israelites as a land flowing with “milk and honey”. Two items, which in their natural raw state provide us with wonderful enzymes & health benefits, but both of those items are now marketed in their pasturized state, stripped of so much of their natural goodness and healing properties.
I had been reading a few yeasty books and got scared off fruit for a while but I’ve lately been rethinking that stance. After reading lots on traditional diets I found it interesting that there are several noteworthy populations that consume large quantities of fruit in their diets and have very healthy profiles without any of the diseases of civilization (I believe the kitavans are one such group but I’m too tired to actually look them up). It makes me think that in the context of a healthy body fruit isn’t at all a concern. Also, I’ve read that certain sugars are necessary for our own body’s ecosystems, yeast aren’t the only ones craving sugars–sugar is food for our healthy gut flora too, especially the sugars found in fruits like bananas. People who say that ALL sugar is bad need to remember that the only food our brains eat is glucose.