Autumn comfort food without sugar

Comfort Food Through The Autumn

As we head deeper into autumn, some of us are glad we don’t have to worry about our summer bodies and look forward to snuggling in warm jumpers and eating comfort food often laden with sugar. This season rather than reach for those sugary snacks, follow our top ten tips to eat the comfort without the hit!

  1. Give up sugar… the best thing you can do is go ‘cold turkey’ for a period of time – a week if you can.  Once you have done this, you will find that your taste buds have really adjusted and you can find the sweetness naturally present in lots of things and your need for super-sweet, sugary things may reduce.  This is a good ‘detox’ sort of thing to do and make a date in your diary to do this, ring-fence at least 5 days when you can control your food and reduce your exposure to temptation.
  2. Use Stevia instead. Stevia is a natural leafy herb that provides a sweet flavour without the calories and the blood-sugar raising that cane sugar does. Stevia flavouring does not contain calories or nasty chemicals like other sweeteners, so it is favoured by health professionals to give you that sweetness without the harmful effects of sugar.  But…. Tasting sweet can sometimes trigger insulin from your conditioned pancreas and can sometimes lead to rebound hunger – so watch to see if you are more hungry after a stevia-sweetened snack than before. See our blog
  3. Use blended and stewed fruits instead of commercial jams.
    Make sure you eat filling foods that give you a sense of comfort – like porridge for breakfast – experiment with lots of different wholegrains and seeds and make a different porridge for each day of the week – e.g. millet, amaranth, brown rice, quinoa.. etc. Instead of using sugar and golden syrup on your porridge, use home-made sugar-free jam:
  • Take fresh fruit and put in saucepan with a little apple juice.
  • Bring to the boil and simmer gently for a while until the fruit goes to pulp.  Take a little more apple juice and in a cup, blend with a tablespoon of arrowroot or kuzu, add this blend to the fruit in the saucepan and it will go thick and jam-like.
  • Taste and if it is not sweet enough, add a little brown rice syrup to the pan, or some stevia.  This is great on brown rye bread, rice cakes and porridge.
  1. Use rice syrup instead of sugar syrups.
    Brown rice syrup is a great sweetener instead of golden syrup or sugar. It is slightly less sweet than what it is replacing, so you may have to get used to a more gentle sweetness, hence the step 1. above.  Brown rice syrup has minerals and nutrients more than golden syrup or refined sugar, and it does not seem to affect the blood sugar so dramatically, so doesn’t cause rebound hunger so much as refined sugar.
  2. Eat a salad or wholegrain snack like brown rice cakes when you are hungry rather than a sugary treat. When you start to eat sugar-sweetened snacks and sweets, the only thing you want to eat afterwards is yet more sweet treats.  Nobody ever eats a bar of chocolate and then declares that they fancy a salad.  Eating sugar makes you behave like a drug addict who only wants another fix of the sugar drug.  So next time you are hungry, reach for a vegetable-based snack like sweet potato fries, or a salad with some good quality mayonnaise.  The fat in the mayonnaise will satisfy you and make you feel comforted.
  3. Make your cookies and cakes using rice syrup and oats instead of sugary biscuits; in cooking, it is often possible to substitute a normal white refined sugar. Look up sugar-free recipes online to replace the ones you normally use.  Some recipes use Glycerine instead of sugar and this can make your brownies and cakes very moist and of course, sugar-free.  Glycerine is like an oily sugar syrup which tastes sweet but it is not digested by the human gut, so not a source of calories.
  4. Read supermarket labels and become very cynical: If something looks and tastes like it has sugar in, beware of labels listing things like organic cane juice (sugar), crystallized cane juice (sugar), organic extract of cane juice (sugar)… and all its other pseudonyms.  It is a master of disguise and can be trying to sneak into your digestive systems hiding behind a cloak of fancy names.  Sugar is sugar; a variety of sources including corn, sugar beet and sugar cane juice, refined, concentrated and crystallized.  It comes in brown, white and all shades in between.  It is not your friend, whatever its name is.
  5. Beware Low-Fat…..Be very cautious around low-fat foods; in the western world, over the last 40 years, we have become fat-phobic as fat was blamed for all manner of illnesses from heart disease to cancer; so all the commercial food manufacturers focussed on making foods that were low in fat.  In the meantime, to keep them interesting to your palate and nice enough to eat, they had to replace the fat with sugar, mostly glucose syrup, high-fructose corn syrup and other forms of sugar.  So most low-fat foods can carry hefty doses of sugar, please read the labels, especially when a food is low-fat – look for glucose syrup, fructose syrup, HFCS – High Fructose Corn Syrup.  It is sometimes better to have a full-fat product which you find satisfying than several low-fat ones which will deliver a sugar-punch.  g. eat a single, creamy, plain, full fat yogurt and it will be thick and delicious once you get used to the sharp, tangy taste.  The fat will feel satisfying and you will only want to eat one.  Turn your attention to the low-fat (even artificially sweetened, low-calorie) sweetened yogurts and you may find yourself eating several of them, triggering an insulin response from the sweet taste and then your blood sugar will drop, making you more hungry.  If you have ever found low-calorie yogurt deserts make you hungry, this is why.
  6. Have cheese instead of a dessert; sometimes the finishing flourish to a meal can be achieved with a little hard cheese, full fat and unpasteurised (to deliver some nice probiotic microbes), and this can take the place of a sugary dessert. If you have a plate of cheese and grapes and a little celery or wholegrain cracker, this is much healthier than the sticky toffee pudding you would have chosen in less enlightened times.
  7. If you need to make desserts, make them in tiny shot glasses; this is a very sexy trendy thing at the moment, the micro-puds. They give you that first taste of the dessert, which is often the divine mouthful (then you spend the other twenty spoonfuls trying to recapture that divine moment, to no avail), the rest is just plain fattening without the satisfaction.  A tiny morsel of dessert will keep your soul happy without loading you up with more sugar.  A tiny dessert taken after a meal will be absorbed slowly and will not make your blood sugar shoot up too high, too quickly. You could also try our delicious Sugar Free Chia Pudding

Taste everything, finish nothing.  Don’t feel left out, taste everything – as that first taste is where the tongue-nectar is.  After that it is just padding.  Be like a little bumble bee and flit from flower to flower, tasting but never feasting.

Sugar is like a drug, we are all hooked, so it takes several stages to wean yourself away.  If you can achieve 2 or 3 of these suggestions per month, then after 4 months you will be sugar-free and your body will love you for it!