Peeps? I’ll Pass

Apr 16

13684975164_750b118771_oTwo months ago I declared war on sugar, on Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups and Gobstoppers, on orange juice and molasses-sweetened bread. In the comments section of that post, you generously shared with me tips and tricks from your own battles with sugar, many of which I’ve called upon over the last several weeks.

So did I win? Did I vanquish sugar for life?

Here’s a dispatch from the field:

1. I’m eating far fewer cracker-y treats than I used to. Instead of swiping my kids’ Goldfish or Annie’s bunnies mid-afternoon, I’ve been following Lisa‘s advice to grab something with protein instead. I love nuts – I’m downright nuts for them! – and a handful of nuts or trail mix has become my go-to snack. I’ve also been mindful of eating some protein at breakfast, usually some cheese or a spoonful of peanut butter. (Have I mentioned I really like nuts?) This seems to help keep my sugar cravings at bay.

2. I’ve realized the fundamental truth of Milka‘s comment, linking lack of quality sleep to sugar cravings and encouraging me to focus on sleeping better if I want to reduce my yen for sugar. Over the past two months, I have seen strong evidence this connection. I make much better eating choices on days when I’ve slept well the night before. On days after I’ve, say, stayed up way too late watching not one but TWO UConn basketball teams bring home national championships and then all of the post-game interviews that followed, I’ve been far more likely to succumb to sugar’s siren song.

3. Taking a page from Andrea‘s book, I’ve become more of a “dessert snob.” I’ve tried to be very mindful of not eating sweets that I don’t even like (hey, Peeps up there, I’m looking at you) just because they’ve come home in a goody bag from a child’s birthday party. I’m still eating desserts, but trying hard not to consume what Michael Pollan would call “edible foodlike substances.”

4. I’m also working to eliminate artificial sweeteners, and with pretty good success so far. I’ve been reading more about the way that sugar substitutes trick our brains into not associating sweetness with calories, often making us crave more sweetness to scratch that sugar itch, and have been phasing them out in order to help reset my palate.

As for my beloved Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups? They’re still around.

Are they the world’s healthiest treat? Not by a long shot, but, as far as processed food goes, they’re not the worst offenders either. And I really, really like them. So I’ve decided that they can stay. For now at least.

Whether your week brings you Easter candy, Passover macaroons, or none of the above, may all of your days be sweet ones.

Image: Peeps by Mike Mozart via Flickr under a Creative Commons license.

{ 30 comments… read them below or add one }

Peitra April 16, 2014 at 6:16 am

A world without Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups is like a night without stars…. (slightly modified from Punjab in “Annie”). However, I love the advice of becoming a dessert snob. I might have to become one as well.

My octogenarian cousin told me when I had my first baby to never eat my kids’ food- so I try not to pick their snacks. On a somewhat related tangent, I have a hard time justifying giving them things like Goldfish (which they LOVE), if I won’t allow myself to eat them.

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Kristen April 21, 2014 at 2:35 pm

Such a good point. I am often felled by laziness: what’s easier? Pour out a bowl of Goldfish or clean and slice up an apple? (I’m a failure as a mother.) xo

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Rachael April 16, 2014 at 8:12 am

My technique is to keep it all out of the house, which means that I often find myself cursing myself on afternoons when I’m working at home and craving chocolate.

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Kristen April 21, 2014 at 2:38 pm

Do you ever find yourself heading to the store just to buy chocolate? I fear that would be me: buy it and scarf it all down in one fell swoop.

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Shannon April 16, 2014 at 8:48 am

Those Reeses eggs have the perfect ratio of peanut butter to chocolate, don’t they?
I have become very conscious of the artificial sweeteners lately because I think they trigger my migraines. It’s amazing how many “foods” they are in once you watch out for them.
I, like you, will never give up dessert completely, but want to limit it to the things I really love. Like pie.
At the Erma Bombeck conference this weekend, I was surrounded by her quotes. This one seems appropriate here: “Seize the moment! Remember all of those women on the Titanic who waved off the dessert cart.”

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Kristen April 21, 2014 at 2:41 pm

Two pieces of evidence that our friendship is forever secure even after our temporary Kentucky-UConn rift: 1. your love of Erma; 2. your recognition of the glory that is the Reese’s egg. (I may or may not be planning a stop at CVS later today to see if they have any on sale now that Easter has passed.) xo

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Andrea April 16, 2014 at 10:51 am

This is great! I’ve done a bit of a half-assed giving up of sugar this year for “lent” (secular lent, that is), but have succumbed to doughnuts (really good, fresh-baked/fried, dessert-snob doughnuts) on two occasions and a tiramisu in an Italian restaurant. When I feel like a sweet snack (usually in times of stress, or when I let my blood sugar drop), I go for fruit-juice sweetened yogurt-covered raisins or “snacker jacks” vegan, molasses-sweetened imitation carmel-corn. But I think your nuts idea (and getting enough sleep) is a much better plan. And since reading this article: https://shine.yahoo.com/healthy-living/family-stopped-eating-sugar-happened-202700552.html I’ve been wondering if I could eliminate even honey and molasses and fruit-juice sweetened things and do it to the whole family…I plan to start subversively cut back on sugar in our home (after Easter, of course).

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Kristen April 21, 2014 at 2:45 pm

Wow! What an interesting article. (I admire the author’s attitude that giving up sugar for a year would be a fun experiment; I fear I would think of it more as a form of torture.) You’ll have to keep me posted on what you decide to do now that Easter has come and gone. There’s no denying that I feel more energetic on the days when I eat less sugar. But am I ready to give it up altogether? Baby steps for now…

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nicoleandmaggie April 16, 2014 at 2:03 pm

I don’t know if you got this recommendation yet but: Green and Black Organic 70% dark. One small square satisfies the way an entire Hershey’s bar used to.

Also, the less sugar you eat, the more you’re able to appreciate things like dark chocolate (Green and black makes an 85% dark that is amazing, but not so much if you still like things super sweet) and fruit.

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Kristen April 21, 2014 at 2:48 pm

I was just talking with my mother-in-law about my preference for milk chocolate and how it’s changing now that I’ve been trying to eat less sugar. You’re absolutely right: it’s hard to appreciate the complexity of dark chocolate (and Green and Black’s is delicious!) when you’re used to eating too much sugar.

Thanks for the tip!

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Nina April 16, 2014 at 6:06 pm

Good job! What are thoughts are Stevia drops? I’ve switched (finally) from splenda to a few drops of stevia in coffee and smoothies. But is it just as bad?

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Kristen April 21, 2014 at 2:49 pm

I think stevia gets the green light from health food folks because it’s naturally derived. I don’t care for the taste personally, but I think it’s generally preferable to artificial sweeteners.

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ayala April 16, 2014 at 7:37 pm

Well done :) I love chocolate and I have a weakness for good desserts. In January I tried to cut the sugar out but it’s been an ongoing battle. Happy holidays. :)

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Kristen April 21, 2014 at 2:50 pm

Thank you, my dear, and the same to you! (Toasting you on the sly with a chocolate-covered macaroon.) ;)

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C. Troubadour April 16, 2014 at 8:08 pm

We’re a reactive hypoglycemic family here — so sugar left the house a few years back when D. and I both got diagnosed. It is HARD not to look for something to satisfy your sweet tooth (and we didn’t eat that much refined sugar to begin with). Props to you for persevering.

We still have our sugar substitutes around, but we use them where sweeteners are absolutely necessary. Like say for a mug of hot cocoa or homemade lemonade. But where we can replace sweet snacks or desserts with alternatives, we do. Nuts are a big favorite. So are good cheeses. A wedge of Stilton + perfectly ripe pear slices = mmmmm. Berries and Greek yogurt are also a regular snack :). Then there’s finding other candy (like good TV/movies) for the brain to distract ourselves from sugar cravings …

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Kristen April 21, 2014 at 2:51 pm

Amen. Nothing beats distraction. I also find that I crave certain foods habitually and it’s often a matter (not always simple) of choosing not to grab a snack when I sit down to watch TV. I suspect you’ve gotten rather good at breaking these habits.

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slamdunks April 16, 2014 at 9:47 pm

Glad to hear that you are making headway and using a variety of tactics to do so. Cookies have always been my weakness, and it does not help that the little kids enjoy cookie baking now with mom. Yum, but it means more running laps for me.

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Kristen April 21, 2014 at 2:54 pm

Food and science writer Michael Pollan suggests that we’d all be a lot healthier if we stuck to eating food we made for ourselves. Not so sure what the ruling is on food our kids make for us. ;)

As for cookies? They’re my downfall as well. I often say that a freshly baked chocolate chip is the nearest proof of heaven I’ve ever experienced. ;)

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Lindsey April 17, 2014 at 7:43 am

Bravo! You’re an inspiration. The thing I want (and am improving, slowly) to change is the mindless grabbing of a few goldfish or whatever, things I don’t even really like. That’s such a pitfall. I eliminated splenda a couple of years ago and don’t miss it at all … that stuff scares me. The BIG exception to that is I still have a Diet Coke habit – that’s the last of my vices to go, really, and I just love it so … sigh. xoxo

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Kristen April 21, 2014 at 2:57 pm

I hear you loud and clear on the Diet Coke. We were out of town last week and I found myself drinking them habitually. There’s just something so satisfying about a glass of ice cold DC to me. Maybe we need to start a support group. ;) xo

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rebecca@altaredspaces April 17, 2014 at 10:01 am

My dad and I love to laugh at the Mark Twain line, “There she was. A sinking ship with nothing to throw overboard.” Without our vices what would we give up when we need to hit the reset button?

As you know very well, I’m a firm believer in vices. I think they are not only tolerable, but healthy. The important part is mindfulness. Watching myself as I devour my beloved chocolate allows me to notice that I’m sleep deprived and yearning for a nap. My vices talk to me when I’m not listening. :) That’s why we’re friends.

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Kristen April 21, 2014 at 2:58 pm

I LOVE that quote. And you know how prone I am to wanting to push the reset button. So I will hang on to the occasional Diet Coke…just for you. xo

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Mike Mozart April 18, 2014 at 7:26 pm

Thanks for choosing my Creative Commons Peeps Picture!!!

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Kristen April 21, 2014 at 2:58 pm

Thanks for making it available, Mike! Hope you enjoyed all your Peeps this weekend! ;)

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Jack April 21, 2014 at 10:58 am

You know science has proven that when UCONN wins the earth is knocked off of its axis and people go crazy. Might be better for everyone if they just agreed to throw each game. ;)

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Kristen April 21, 2014 at 2:59 pm

This is me sticking my tongue out at you: ;P

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Jane April 22, 2014 at 3:42 pm

You, my dear, are an inspiration. I, myself, have never loved Peeps. But I DO love sugar. It is my kryptonite. And as much as I say to myself, “Oh, I don’t really eat that much sugar,” I do. Too much sugar. I could never go cold turkey (because Reese’s peanut butter cups are one of my favs, too!) but this post is a reminder that I could do better.

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Kristen April 30, 2014 at 1:07 pm

Thank you! Always glad to find fellow sweet tooths (sweet teeth?) out there – especially those who understand the power of the Reese’s cup. :)

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Lisa May 1, 2014 at 10:00 am

I’ve never understood the fascination with peeps. Glad to hear you’re taking some positive actions in the war on sugar. When I’m on a chocoholic binge, I reach for dark chocolate anything and just let it melt in my mouth. Pure bliss. Hershey’s Dark Chocolate Bliss…yes, those are a delish treat! BTW, I have a new job! http://www.peripheralperceptions.org/2014/04/30/my-new-job/

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Kristen May 1, 2014 at 1:35 pm

And now my mouth is watering! ;)

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