Nutritionist, Paloma Gerber goes sugar-free in Hong Kong
When I have a slice of cake, it ain’t over until the whole cake is gone. It’s that sugar that lures me in; promising bliss, but we all know that with artificial highs follow crashing lows…and yet we keep coming back for more. This time though, I had a plan, to embark on a month long sugar free journey. I was done of being chained to the stuff, desiring my pre-addicted life of stable energy and moods, happy weight, and flawless skin.
My game plan was to eliminate all sugar, brown, white, coconut, even honey, nectars, maple syrup and dried fruit. Alternatives were stevia in my oats, or a plain old banana to sweeten the occasional smoothie or chia pudding with some added cinnamon to stabilize blood sugar. I had also discovered cooking my morning porridge with butternut squash, yum!
A month and several fails later, I can tell you this challenge was extremely difficult.
Two weeks into the experience I went to New York for a culinary program on Food Therapy (desserts were included in the menu!) and I was not about to go to culinary school and not try the desserts! Besides, we only used “healthy” sweeteners that don’t spike your blood sugar (ahem, EXCUSES!). Yet in failing I learned not to wallow, instead to treat slip ups as a cause for making revisions to my plan. I haven’t given up and won’t stop till I can have a slice of cake in front of me, have a bite, and then think, “I’m satisfied.”
Here are three tips that helped me on my journey. I hope you find them useful! Below the tips you’ll find a list of my sweet go-to’s that contain “healthier” forms of sugar, meaning they’re either mineral rich and/or won’t spike your blood sugar. Enjoy!
Tip #1: Set up a support system
Having someone to check in with, a friend or family member, provides accountability, which can help keep you on track. I checked in with a friend every morning, which forced me to be clear on my meal plan. That way I wouldn’t find myself hungry without suitable options.
Tip #2: Eat fat and protein!
Fat and protein will keep you fuller for longer. In my morning oats, a tablespoon or two of nut butter is delicious, plus it’ll take me through to lunchtime.
Also be sure to have nutritious and relatively filling snacks. Toasted pumpkin seeds are quite enjoyable, so are creamy hummus with crunchy vegetables sticks.
Tip #3: Be realistic
Cold turkey might not work. Make gradual changes by phasing out refined sugar. Replace it with “healthier” sugars like fresh fruit, dried fruit, maple syrup, raw honey etc. If you’re a sugar with tea drinker add less and less everyday so change feels less extreme.
If I’m having a little chocolate craving I’ll go for a nibble, or (ahem) a whole bar of this chocolate. It’s high quality cacao in its raw form, thus brimming with antioxidants. The sweetener is coconut blossom nectar, which doesn’t cause blood sugar spikes.
Smooth and rich, these acai bowls are sweetened with dates and maple syrup; both mineral rich and low glycemic. Combining them plays up the others’ sweetness & flavor. Crunchy granola and cacao nib topping creates a fun contrast with the smooth consistency.
Also the Cacao Chia Pudding from nood.
Sweet Secrets (also sold at Genie Juicery and Fresca)
Pumpkin Oat Cookie, Spicy Ginger Cookie and Chocolate Brownie Less sweet than your typical dessert, using coconut sugar, a lower glycemic option.
35 Graham Street, Central, Hong Kong
Love its pancakes; basically a giant soufflé; the batter is mostly high-protein egg whites. Plated, the massive pancake is topped with raw acacia honey.
4 Shin Hing Street, Central, Hong Kong
Amazin’ Graze Granola
Some of the best granola I’ve tried, and a variety of flavors. Hazelnut Black Forest is a personal favorite.
East Bali Cashews
Cacao dusted cashews in a teensy bit of cane sugar and a touch of sea salt = magic in your mouth.
Sold at Be Juiced
Bubbly and a little sweet, Kombucha is a healthy alternative to soda, especially because it’s loaded with bacteria and yeast that will do good things for your gut.