A friend recently emailed me asking me what our usual sugar consumption looked like. She was recently on an anti-yeast diet and is just starting to add sugar back into her diet. She asks:
“Now, as I am considering adding a “little bit ” of sweet back into my diet I am having trouble finding a good place to stay. I don’t want to NEVER have sweets, but I don’t want to binge either. I appreciated your post on sugar recently. What does that look like in your life? How many times a week do you eat muffins? Or make a dessert? Or have a sweetened beverage?”
While it’s a simple to explain what we are doing right now, it’s not necessarily typical of us. Elena recently had a bit of a yeast flare up, so we cut out all sweeteners (except stevia here and there) and fruit. Now she has a dab of honey here and there and a serving of fruit every couple of days. I try to keep the transition slow to her eating our typical diet and also try to make sure she is consuming lacto-fermented foods for all of the healthy bacteria it provides.
Like many of us “typical” habits change from season to season, and I am sure it will continue to vary in the future. Perhaps what would be most helpful is for me to share some of the guidelines I keep in the back of my mind while meal planning.
Dessert once a Week
I try to plan a dessert once a week normally. If my family knows that they will have something to look forward to every week, they won’t feel deprived during the week. Plus, with so many yummy naturally sweetened or fruit based desserts, you can have a more healthy dessert guilt free. I also find this helpful on my budget. I would love to make my dessert day Sunday (made the day before), so that Sunday can be the “Celebration” day. I love how many families in the past had a special dinner on Sunday, complete with dessert.
Two teaspoons at a time
My new dabble in cooking is keeping my sugar consumption (including unrefined sugars) low per serving of dessert. Two teaspoons of sugar is not supposed to upset the mineral balance in your body if you are healthy. I will keep you updated on my progress. My first two recipes following that guideline, the Truffles and the Chai Hot Cocoa were a success in this household. But other recipes may prove a challenge, unless I supplement with stevia.
However, for everyday living, adding a bit of honey to a cup of tea with a splash of cream, or having some lightly sweetened roasted nuts can give you that bit of sweet you love without going over that limit. If you have gone completely without sweets for a couple of weeks, it’s actually amazing how nice just a little sweetness is.
Fruit for Snacks
We’ve had to cut back on fruit lately, but generally I like to serve fruit as part of a dessert or raw as a snack. We especially love to buy organic apples in bags of several pounds (so frugal) and cut them up and eat with nut butters. If you are having yeast issues, obviously you have to be careful even with fruit. But for most of us, adding several servings of fruit in won’t be much of an issue and will give us many antioxidants and other benefits. And if you are transitioning back into eating fruit, or just trying to cut back on natural sugars, you can always start with the less sweet fruits, like grapefruit, some berries, and green apples.
Probably because I am nursing right now, I am finding that I like my “treat” to be in liquid form, hence all of the recent recipes for hot beverages! But sometimes my husband gets a very dark chocolate bar for me and I will also have a square or two of that during the day. While I think that I really shouldn’t feel this way, I do find it gratifying to have a mommy treat during the day, whether is chai tea or a square of chocolate. Motherhood is as demanding as much as it’s wonderful, so I am always delighted if I can curl up with a good book and sip a gently sweetened tea. It’s the type of moment I completely took for granted before kids came around!
When I feel like everyone is handling fruits well, we will also have smoothies for breakfast sweetened entirely with fruit (bananas are very sweet). One favorite recipe, Mango Orange Smoothie, is just as good as a dessert to me!
My goal would be to have everyone healthy and yeast free so that we can enjoy a moderate amount of fruit per day, and a lightly sweetened muffin, drink, or other goodie on most days, with a special “real” dessert once a week. All in all, I’ve found that when I had a season of having to be very careful with sweets for myself, I got quite used to not having it around. Now we have to be careful with my daughter as well (antibiotics can save lives, but the after affects can be very unpleasant). But I try to keep a reasonable balance for my family of having enjoyable sweets without overwhelming them with too much sugar. The above guidelines are some of the principles I try to keep in mind day to day, but they aren’t laws to control us, just guide us.
But just in case my dear readers think that I am a the epitome of self-control, I do sometimes step outside these guidelines. We recently ate at a friend’s house after we had not been eating sweets for a while. They served a wonderful homemade, naturally sweetened fruit cobbler. It tasted so good I ate no less than three servings. (Epitome of rudeness, I know!). I would normally attempt to eat just one serving…..but self-control was a bit lacking that night! And that’s not even mentioning the larger size sample of banana cake I had at New Seasons this week…..two days in a row.
One last thought for those, like my friend, coming off of an anti-yeast diet. If you find that the idea of eating sweets so consuming that it’s hard to resist, I would suspect that you are not quite ready to go off of your diet. Desserts, fruits, and sweets, should sound appealing to us, but not controlling.
Hopefully that gives a little picture of what we do. I would love to hear from my other readers as well! How often do you eat fruits and sweets? What are your personal guidelines?