NUTELLA & CROISSANTS. I mean, not just one tiny serving (15g) of Nutella recommended by the company, but LOTS OF NUTELLA all over croissants. That's what my husband used to eat every breakfast, almost all his life. He use to have a serious sweet tooth. I remember he even had a membership card for Swensen's Ice Cream, where he had his ice parfait every time we passed by the place. He was never fat though - one of those skinny fat guys, who still looked good because they are tall. So he didn't have to feel bad about his eating habit.
At one point I told him that I can make Nutella for him from scratch, having seen some scary Nutella memes on the internet. He was like, "oh god, those fake Nutella would taste horrible". But he liked my Nutella, which consisted of genuine amount of hazelnuts, MCT oil, erythritol and a bit of oligo syrup, make it low glycemic. "It tastes very nutty" he said. Of course it did, my recipe called for so much more than what is inside the commercial Nutella jar.
He started eating it for few weeks and one day it ran out. He still had an old jar of Nutella so he ate some of that. To his surprise, he spat it out because it was that gross. He realised that Nutella was nothing to do with nuts or chocolate - the oily mouthfeel, uber-sweetness, it was too much. That was the last time he had it - adios, Nutella!
Since then, I started to replace everything unhealthy with healthier alternatives in our kitchen. Take KETCHUP as an example, which he adored. Making it sugar-free and organic is so easy. All you need is some tomato paste, spices like all spices or clove, cumin, turmeric and chilli, mixing it with Himalayan salt, pepper and vinegar. Add some water, heat it, done. If you like it sweet, add erythritol. You can also keep it raw if you eat it quickly, or if you want to keep it a bit longer in the fridge, heat it well, then put it in a glass jar and you can enjoy it for a week and more.
I also stopped using sugar in all of my cooking. Frankly, it was just one of those cooking habits to add sugar in order to enhance the flavor. Without sugar - well, actually it didn't change that much! If needed, I used erythritol so that it added no calorie.
Over the several weeks, amazing things happened. We realised that we had so much less craving for sweets overall. We also stopped drinking Coke Zero, which we drunk religiously. When we went to supermarkets, my husband just stopped stocking those giant cookies he used to buy in bulks. Instead, he started eating my home-made kefir made from grass-fed milk with frozen raspberries and sugar-free chocolate after dinner.
We also went on to eat everything Bulletproof so often our breakfast was the Bulletproof Coffee or Matcha with grass-fed ghee, MCT oil, which kept us full the whole morning. This helped us further with craving for sugar. Our carb intake was reduced drastically, and even if we eat carbs from time to time, we only ate quality complex carbs such as sweet potatoes and pumpkins. Instead of pasta, we started eating zoodles (noodles made with raw zucchini). We still eat desserts, but I make those at home, which are all sugar-free, low carb and rich in healthy fat.
I get asked how we lost weight and became healthy and fit - we didn't spend money on joining the gym nor bought weight loss pills. It was just a simple change of what we ate, which helped us to 'lean out'. We didn't even consider losing weight, but it naturally happened.
Here are some tips which may help you in making this transition.
1. Get to know what you have been eating: you think you know what you have been eating but you will be surprised once you start getting to know more about each food you eat. Log your food in for a week or so, using apps such as myfitnesspal.com. Use a scale so that you can learn about the food you eat, especially if they are processed. This means, try to measure what exactly a tablespoon of whatever you are measuring. My husband thought 3 tablespoons were about 1 tablespoon. It would make a huge difference in total calorie consumption!
Right now I aim for max. 25g of sugar a day. Most of the sugar comes from vegetables, some berries/passion fruits I eat at night together with whole milk kefir. I don't count calorie anymore because I know what I eat and how much sugar these foods can contain.
2. Try to cook your own meal without sugar: when you buy things outside, sugar is hidden everywhere: even salad dressing and sauce. When you cook at home, if you still like sweet taste, use healthy sweeteners like Erythritol which has zero calorie. Make a bunch and freeze them in small portions. It saves a lot of time!
3. You like fruits? Choose low-fructose fruits: "fruits are healthy", I bet you hear that everywhere. "Fruits contain a lot of vitamins especially Vitamin C". So do fresh vegetables. Eating too many fruits can lead to weight gain through excess fat storage. If you are an athlete, fructose can be a great source of immediately available energy, but if you don't burn it, it will get stored as fat, that's how simple it is.
Eat low-fructose containing fruits such as raspberries, passion fruits and sour mango, only in a small quantity at night. Just don't eat things like mango, jack fruits, sweet mandarins and pineapple. They are so delicious, I know, but if you are not an active person, stay away from them.
If you insist on eating them because of some special benefits, consider fermenting it with kombucha or kefir to reduce the sugar content. For example, I want to benefit from bromelain which is abundant in pineapples - so I just make pineapple cider vinegar from it. During the process, the sugar is consumed by yeast and bacteria to become alcohol, consequently acetic acid (vinegar). I drink it every day diluted with water, or use it in my salad.
4. When you go out, always ask them not to add sugar and MSG: yap, som tam without sugar is very sour at first, but you will get used to it. If you cannot take it, take some erythritol and use it instead. Watch out for salad dressings and sauce, which often contain a lot of sugar. Sweet chili sauce where you dip your satay? It contains sweet corn syrup. Delicious ranch salad dressing contains surprisingly much sugar inside!
5. If you cannot avoid taking sugar, take L-Arabinose: I would not recommend taking L-arabinose so that you will be immune to sugar - NO!!! Rather, as a precaution. 1g of L-Arabinose can block up to 20g of sugar. So just take a little bit before you go out so you don't have to feel so bad about eating a bit of sauce here and there.
6. Don't stock anything which contains sugar at home: just give all the 'bad stuff' to someone else, clean up your kitchen to start your journey afresh! Believe me, you will feel a lot better having a clean kitchen cupboard. You will be tempted at first - but if you don't have anything bad to nibble, you won't eat them.
7. Listen to your body: you may be used to eating more, but once your body is satisfied with nutritions, it won't 'demand' much anymore. Don't push your old habit, just ask yourself, "are you full already?" As long as you eat a lot of healthy fat, you will not have any sugar craving.
8. Make sure your meals contain healthy fat: avoiding sugar doesn't mean you should be on a restrictive diet. this is just the way to choose more nutrient-dense food. I take MCT oil with my coffee twice a day and I feel very satisfied after that. If you really need to snack, there are many things you can eat to satisfy your craving. My favourites are:
- Kombucha coconut panna cotta
- Kombucha jelly made with beef gelatin
- Pili nuts
- Sugar-free chocolate
- Low carb pili nut muffins / brownies
- Full fat milk kefir
- Yak collagen cloud bread
- Cauliflower pili nuts crackers
- Grass-fed beef jerky
If you want to share your experience, please do! Are there any good tips you can share with us?