Have a question for Unsweetened Caroline? Check out the FAQs below or reach out to us directly!
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Why did you stop eating added sugar?
I stopped eating added sugar because I had constant, uncontrollable cravings. Sugar was controlling me. I was at a point where I was craving sugar every minute of every day and as a result, I was binging several times a week. I tried several things, but nothing helped. I see it like an addiction. An alcoholic can’t drink in moderation, just like I couldn’t eat sugar in moderation. Cutting out added sugar completely is the only thing that worked for me (trust me, if I had the control to eat sugar in moderation, I would).
What are the biggest challenges of living sugar-free?
When I first stopped eating added sugar, the biggest challenge was seeing others enjoy desserts at the restaurant or at family dinners. It triggered some cravings at first, but now, that doesn’t affect me at all. At family dinners, we usually have fresh fruit available, so I try to eat that instead to satisfy my sweet tooth. I would say that my current biggest challenge is creating fruit-sweetened recipes only. I see other bloggers sharing recipes with maple syrup, honey and more and it does make me a bit jealous. I have so many ideas for desserts and recipes that I can’t create due to not being able to use maple syrup, etc. It’s frustrating at times, but I’m trying not to let that stop me. I’m just hoping that you guys love fruit-sweetened desserts!
What do you love most about it?
What I love most about it is the way it makes me feel. Since I stopped eating added sugar and binging on sugar regularly, I feel healthier and more confident. I love that my cravings don’t control my life anymore. I also love that it made me spend more time in the kitchen and eat whole foods made from scratch. For some, spending more time in the kitchen may be a challenge, but I enjoy it. It’s what made me fall in love with cooking in the first place. I always enjoyed cooking, but I definitely feel passionate about it now more than ever.
Did you lose weight eating the way you do?
Yes and no. When I was at my worst (when I had cravings every minute of every day), I had gained weight. My weight gradually increased throughout high school, when my cravings were getting worst. At my heaviest, I was 15 pounds heavier than I am now. I would say that giving up sugar has caused that weight loss, as I don’t have as many cravings and I don’t binge like I used to. However, I weigh approximately the same thing I did when I started high school (maybe a few pounds more because I’m older and, well, puberty). At that time, I did eat sugar and I did not gain weight. All I’m saying is, quitting sugar is not the solution to losing weight. Changing your relationship with food is. Someone can easily stay at a healthy weight and eat sugar. It’s all about moderation. Unfortunately, I was addicted and moderation did not work for me.
I would also like to note that I’m not a size zero. I eat a lot of healthy fats (nuts, nut butters, seeds, avocado, oil), fruits, grains, etc. I’m able to eat plenty of calories, despite not eating sugar. I’m maintaining my weight while eating the healthy food I love (with the occasional treat). I don’t restrict myself more than I need to. Again, I’m a firm believer that the key is having a good relationship with food.
Do you still get cravings? Do you ever binge on sugar-free desserts?
Yes, I do get cravings. I’m still human! When I do get cravings, they’re typically less intense than they used to be. I’m usually able to satisfy my cravings by eating a piece of fruit, a fruit-sweetened treat or even a piece of unsweetened chocolate (seriously!). There are days where my cravings are worst and I do eat a few pieces of sugar-free desserts in one sitting. The way I see it, those are “normal cravings”. I don’t isolate myself to binge like I used to. My cravings aren’t as urgent and they can be satisfied with less. Eating 2-3 cookies is nothing compared to 12 and more. Bottom line is: I’m not perfect and I’ll never be the girl that never craves sugar, but I’m far more in control now.
How often do you make/eat fruit-sweetened desserts?
I make them almost weekly, sometimes more, depending if I’m testing a dessert recipe or not. I do find I have stronger cravings after eating fruit-sweetened desserts every day. That’s when I take a break and spend a week without any desserts in the house. Ideally, I would make one dessert/energy bite/granola bar recipe per week, which would last a few days and I’ll eat fruit if I’m craving something sweet the rest of the week.
I would like to note that most of the “desserts” I make regularly wouldn’t be considered a dessert for most. For example, I regularly make my seriously addictive seedy no-bake granola bars and I consider those a dessert.
How do you deal with sugar cravings?
I wrote a blog post with my top 22 tips for managing sugar cravings. You can find it here.
Have you every cheated and eaten something with added sugar?
No. However, like I mentioned several times on the blog, I’m not stopping myself from eating something with very little added sugar. For example, I still eat SunButter, condiments and store-bought bread sometimes… As long as it’s not something that’s made to be sweet. If there’s no more than 1-2g per serving, I know it won’t cause me to have any cravings. I won’t eat any desserts though, no matter how little added sugar they have.
To be completely honest, I did drink sweetened almond milk once by accident in a smoothie. I didn’t realize it until a few hours later when I got a terrible headache! I don’t count that as “cheating” though. Accidents happen!
Do you eat honey, maple syrup or artificial sweeteners (stevia, etc.)?
No, I only eat fruit-sweetened treats. I find that honey, maple and artificial sweeteners are too sweet for me and would cause cravings. Also, it’s easy to find artificially sweetened or maple syrup-sweetened treats out there. It would make it easy for me to buy a lot of sweets and eat them regularly. That would cause me to have more cravings and it wouldn’t get me used to less sugar. One of the reasons I eat fruit-sweetened desserts is that it’s hard to find, unless I make it myself. That way, it prevents me from eating it so often. Plus, fruit-sweetened desserts are filled with fiber and nutrients and typically taste less sweet.
Are you vegan or vegetarian?
No, but 99% of my diet is vegetarian and probably 90% of my diet would be vegan. At home, I eat a lot of whole grains, vegetables, fruits, legumes, nuts and seeds. I do eat eggs, cheese and yogurt at times. I eat fish or poultry occasionally, usually when I’m at someone else’s home and that’s what they’re making. The only thing I absolutely don’t eat is red meat and processed meats.
What ingredients do you always have in your pantry?
To get a full list of ingredients I keep in my pantry, you can check this page.
What foods do you eat every single day?
It changes from one day to the other, but I tend to always eat a banana, nut butter, oats, seasonal vegetables and fruits, legumes (often chickpeas or black beans) and soy milk.
How many times to you eat per day?
I always eat 3 meals and typically 2 snacks (morning and afternoon). I rarely eat after supper, mostly because I go to bed early enough that I don’t feel hungry. If I do have an evening snack, it would be popcorn while watching a movie (maybe once every few weeks).
What would be your go-to cheat meal?
I wouldn’t see it as a cheat meal (there’s place for occasional treats in a healthy diet), but it would be a good stone oven vegetarian pizza from a local restaurant. I also like to make popcorn from scratch with a little bit of margarine and sea salt. That’s our go-to treat while watching a movie at home. I would also have chips a few times a year, but it’s something I try to limit as much as possible as they are addictive.
Do you drink coffee or any other warm beverages? If so, how many per day?
Yes, but it’s always decaf. I used to drink about 2 cups of regular coffee per day, but recently, it started making me feel too anxious and shaky. Now, I drink one decaf coffee in the morning and sometimes a second one in the afternoon. I sometimes drink English breakfast tea instead. I also like to have warm lemon water for a warm drink in the evening sometimes. For a treat, I like to make my peppermint mocha or hot chocolate.
Can I get a meal plan from you?
Unfortunately, I do not offer personalized meal plans. If you are interested in personalized nutrition information, please contact your local dietitian.
What do you do for exercise?
I do a variety of things. I walk to work every day, which gives me 40 minutes of exercise. I like to do yoga most days of the week, usually from 15-30 minutes. I also hike regularly in our local trails and do strength training in our apartment gym 2-3 times a week (typically short 20 minute workouts). Also, like to run a few times a week from spring to fall. It changes from one season to the other, but that’s what I generally like to do.
Is there another question you’d like to see in the FAQs? Let me know in the comments and I’ll do my best to answer them!