A lifestyle blog by Bars + Crafts founder Alissa KRG
You know those monsters, ahem, people, who have brownies in front of them, pass the plate, and say, "Sweets aren't my thing. I'd rather have more cheese?"
Yea, I'm not one of those people. And trust me, I love a good cheese spread like the rest of us.
But dessert is very important to me. Not only do I crave something sweet the literal second I stop chewing my meal, but deciding on dessert has always been a special shared experience throughout my relationship, and, as of a few months ago, my marriage.
The issue? I stopped liking how I felt after eating refined sugar. And nothing ruins a warm molten lava cake or Nutella babka more than a shitty mood afterwards.
Through my sleepless nights in the lab researching the topic (cough, cough, Googling for a few minutes), I've learned sugar sensitivity is real. Unfortunately, for some people, it can truly affect your mood, thoughts, stress, and anxiety levels...especially when you're annoyingly sensitive to EVERYTHING <-- me.
I chose to do this before the holidays because I'm an evil grinch depriving myself of all festive joy — and because that's when I tend to over-do it the most (also at weddings and work birthdays and the Super Bowl, and any time there's a dessert spread in front of my face).
So, while I'm weary to give up that shared dessert experience that is such a big part of our social lives, I'm even more weary to sacrifice feeling the best I can feel.
Here are 5 big takeaways from my no-sugar journey and how I feel now, one month later.
Takeaway #1: Sugar Is Everywhere
Within the first week of my no sugar challenge at work, someone ordered Insomnia cookies for the team, someone else brought in that insane deconstructed cannoli dip for a happy hour, and like 5 people had birthdays...with cakes. So. Many. Cakes. But there’s good news…
Takeaway #2: You Stop Craving Processed Garbage Quickly
I noticed after just a few days I didn’t really care to eat all the desserts piling up around me. If this had been a few weeks ago, you better believe I’d have been elbow-deep in that cannoli crack dip. But sweets actually started to look unappetizing.
There's a sentence I never thought I'd say — the gooey, chocolatey, warm cookies looked unappetizing. The thing is, picturing how much granulated sugar is piled into each of those desserts — and how I’d feel after eating them — just stopped being appealing to me.
Takeaway #3: Refined Sugar-Free Desserts Do Exist...and They're Amazing
But I’m not a complete loon. I’ve still had indulgences over the month, but the difference is they’re free of refined shit-gar. I mean, sugar. Try a chocolate truffle from Juice Press and I assure you you won't know it's sweetened with only agave.
Or go ahead and eat an apple or a banana for dessert after not having sugar for awhile and you'll feel like it's a slice of homemade pie. JK, that literally will never happen.
But you will become more satisfied by foods with natural sugars, like those weird figs rolled in coconut that I used to always avoid at my parents’ house.
What not to do when it comes to dessert experimenting? Offer to bake a "no-sugar, paleo Oreo cake” with plantains, cacao, and protein powder for your whole family on Thanksgiving.
My dad said it was inedible and physically couldn't be served and my husband looked like a newborn trying a lemon when he took a bite. But the rest of the guests loved it! Just kidding, it was thrown out before any (further) emotional damage could be done.
Takeaway #4: Making Healthy Choices Is Empowering
I'm not a dieter. I also don't have one of those fast metabolisms or freakish genes where you can have Shake Shack in one hand and a ready-to-post bikini selfie in the other. For me, I genuinely like eating nutritious foods and getting a really good sweat in because it's what makes my mind and body the happiest and most balanced. Because of that, I have some flexibility to eat like crap on occasion.
But making a conscious choice to not grab a cookie — or 3 — left me making smarter and stronger choices in what I ate in general. I felt like I had an easier time passing on unhealthy foods. I found myself pausing to assess what I actually wanted to put in my body instead of going straight into vulture mode without a thought.
(Aside from that moment I drunkenly ordered a pizza AND an eggplant parm wedge for myself at 2am after my 10 year High School reunion. Hey, a girl’s got to live!... and that reunion shit is stressful).
Takeaway #5: The Sum-Up
My favorite part of this challenge is the sense of choice I developed through the process. I learned how strong you can feel by actively making healthier choices day-to-day.
I also learned how it's not all about sugar — no one thing is responsible for creating a healthy lifestyle. It's about striking a balance that works for you, so you can feel your best as often as possible.
And if for me that means reaching for the maple-sweetened desserts more often, I'm in.
Drop your sweet thoughts in the comments and be sure to check out our crafting and cocktail events here!