Hi, I’m Caroline! Welcome to my blog. Here I share the healthy sugar-free and mostly vegetarian recipes that I enjoy on a daily basis. In addition to being sugar-free, many of my recipes can be made gluten-free and allergy-friendly. I include ingredient substitutions when possible, as well as nutrition and allergy information to help you choose the best recipes for your needs.
A quick note: I’m a dietitian located in Saint John, New-Brunswick and my first language is french.
Sugar addiction is a thing. I know this because I experienced it myself.
See, most people with an interest in nutrition have a reason, a past experience or something that made them realize the importance of taking care of their bodies. This is my story.
It started around 2010 when I was 16 years old. At the time, I ate a good balanced diet with the occasional splurge. However, as the year went by, those splurges became bigger and they came more often. By the end of 2010, I went from being satisfied with one chocolate bar to eating a whole bag of chocolate chips and needing more. Almost every day after school, I’d go to my room and secretly eat anything with sugar until I felt sick. This included anything from breakfast cereal to granola bars to chocolate. Sometimes all in one night. I went to the gym every morning, hoping to undo what I’d done the night before, just to find myself binging again that same night.
It escalated like this until the summer of 2011, when I was at my worst. I was thinking about food every minute of every day. Food controlled me. Naturally, I had gained weight. I went from being about 110 pounds at 5’2, to 140 pounds in a year. The only reason I didn’t gain more weight was because I exercised and dieted to undo most of my binging. I wasn’t comfortable in my own body, feeling self-conscious everywhere I went.
At the end of that summer, something happened. I got a new perspective and I regained control of my eating habits. Food wasn’t the enemy anymore. I saw food as fuel instead of trying to eat the lowest number of calories possible. In a few months, I had lost 20 pounds, and I felt confident again. That confidence, along with my new found love of healthy food helped me keep my good habits for 2 years. When I graduated from high school in 2012, I even decided to study in nutrition.
During my second year of university, in 2013, I started dating Shaun. As sweet as he is, he always surprised me with my favorite chocolate. Little did I know, I was slowly falling into my old habits. Don’t get me wrong, I would never blame him for what followed, it was bound to happen anyways. At that point, I was hopeless. I didn’t know why I lost control over food and I was scared that I always would. What scared me the most was that I was gaining weight from binging and I was studying to become a dietitian. How could I tell people to eat healthy when I wasn’t even able to do so myself?
Overcoming a sugar addiction
My binging went on for a few months and I gained about 10 pounds before I went for help in September of 2014. If I could go back, I would of gone for help the first time, because that’s what I needed. I learned that I have a sugar addiction, something that is surprisingly common, but that a lot of people ignore. The thing is, sugar is as addicting as many drugs and the only way I could overcome this was to stop eating sugar for good. Not just for a month or a year, but for LIFE. Hard to hear, but I had no other choice. It was either living without sugar or living for sugar.
So here I am in 2016, more than two years without sugar. Was it hard? Yes. Does it get easier? Definitely! I no longer obsess over my weight or the calories I consume. Instead, I focus on my performance at the gym and the way my body feels when I eat. I also exercise because I learned to love it, not because I’m punishing myself. I now live in an apartment with Shaun and it gives me control of my environment. One of the most important things when recovering from a sugar addiction is to avoid having easy access to sugar. Being able to stop any food that causes cravings to come in the house is a big help!
With time though, I’m gaining more control. More than two years without sugar and I’m now comfortable baking a sugar-filled dessert for my family or keeping chocolate in the house when I’m buying Christmas presents. I’m so used to living without sugar that I never even consider eating it anymore. Yes I do get cravings sometimes (I’m still human!), but I’m able to satisfy them with fruit-sweetened desserts or even just a fruit or a small piece of unsweetened chocolate (you get used to it). I’ll always have to be careful not to go back to my old ways, but it does get easier. It really does!
I don’t follow a restrictive diet, but because of my addiction, there are certain things I have to avoid. I don’t eat any added sugar. This pretty much excludes any processed food. I limit myself to homemade desserts sweetened with dates, raisins, bananas or any other fruits. I avoid having any refined wheat at home, including white bread and pasta, but I won’t stop myself from eating some at the restaurant once in a while. I also need to avoid eating too much salt and fat since these can become as addicting as sugar if I’m not being careful.
What do I eat? I eat a lot of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, nuts and seeds, a little bit of fish, dairy and poultry and no red meat. I don’t like using a label to define the way I eat, but if I had to, I’d say I’m a flexitarian. Most of my meals are vegan or vegetarian, but I won’t stop myself from enjoying salmon once in a while. I do treat myself with sugar-free treats on occasion. I don’t believe in restrictive diets, I believe in a healthy, balanced lifestyle.