On my journey towards attaining my goal of living in a healthy, happy body I have come up against my fair share of challenges.
The most severe of these, for me, are processed carbohydrates and sugar cravings. I could happily go for two or three days being really well behaved, eating only whole foods – mostly vegetables and mostly raw – and then, BAM, on the third night I would suddenly lose my mind and end up in a shameful carbo-loading-love-fest.
The months passed and I continued trying to refine my diet but still, every couple of nights I would need to stuff my face full of whatever carbs or sugars I could get my grubby little paws on.
Then, about two months ago, in an attempt to trick my daughter into eating something healthy, I decided to make some date-balls, in the hopes she would think they were candy. I rolled them with seeds, nuts and coconut and they were heavenly. My daughter liked them, but I loved them. I couldn’t get enough and I found I had to keep making more date-balls every few days, as I just couldn’t stop popping them in my mouth.
After a week I ran out of all the extra ingredients – I only had the dried dates left. I needed something sweet there and then and so I popped a plain whole date into my mouth. Wow! I realized instantly that I’d been wasting a whole lot of time chopping them up and filling them with other stuff when they were simply marvellous just on their own. I couldn’t get enough of their chewy sweetness. I ate the whole packet.
Throughout that day, as I munched my way diligently through 500 g of nature’s finest candy-delights, I began to feel guilty. They were so sugary; surely this couldn’t be good for me? But then it occurred to me that although the dates were so sweet that I could literally feel the natural sugar crystals dissolving in my mouth, they were probably still healthier and less fattening than the processed carbohydrates and sugars I’d been piling into my system before.
My thinking was that the dates are a natural source of sugar and therefore my body would find it easier to process the sugar from this source more efficiently than if I was eating a more refined alternative. I don’t believe that all calories are the same. I believe that a highly processed, artificial meal that promises it’s low in calories will probably damage my system and ultimately slow down my metabolism. With the dates, they might be packed full of energy but they are natural and therefore healthy for me to eat. This little revelation led me to the decision to make dates my “cheat” food. So, when I found myself craving processed carbohydrates or sugars in the evenings, I encouraged myself to eat as many dates as was required to satisfy my craving.
Then one day, as I was enjoying some delicious dates, I began to think about sugar in my diet as a whole. I do try to eat fruit, but if I were completely honest, I’d have to admit that until I included dates in my diet I didn’t often succeed. I eat a lot of salads, herbs and green leafy vegetables but not a lot of fruit. When I examined why I resisted including fruit in my diet, I realised that the reason was because of the sugar. I’d been told throughout my life how bad sugar was for me and how fruits are jam-packed with sugar. I had subconsciously begun to avoid fruits because I associated them with being something fattening and unhealthy. The irony was that I was avoiding the healthy sources of sugar and resorting to binging on the worst kinds of sugars available.
But now that I was thinking about it logically, I realised that I hadn’t had any sugar in my diet at all and that this was wrong and unnatural. It occurred to me that I had been deliberately starving my body of sugar which was why I was having uncontrollable cravings for it. After this little epiphany I began to include dates in my diet during the day – one here, one there, as and when I felt like it.
I noticed that once I had this natural sugar in my diet again my night time cravings stopped completely and almost instantly. I was amazed. And it seems that so long as I do include natural sugar in my diet, the cravings remain dormant and I can continue on my journey of eating and feeling healthy.
I also noticed that I had a lot more energy and was able to perform better in physical activities – I also, ironically – lost weight when I began including the dates in my diet, I think it might have something to do with the fact that my exercising improved so much over this period. I’ve subsequently discovered that as a result of their massive health benefits, dates are considered one of the best ingredients for muscle development.
The added bonus of dates of course is that they really are wonderfully good for you. The advantages of dates include relief from constipation, intestinal disorder, heart problems, anaemia, sexual dysfunction, diarrhoea, abdominal cancer and other conditions.
Another beneficial side-effect of eating dates is that they have organic sulphur in them. This is an uncommon element and is not found in most foods but it does help reduce allergic reactions and seasonal allergies.
Dates are loaded with Potassium, which is one of the main ingredients in promoting a healthy and responsive nervous system and it also improves the speed and alertness of the brain’s activity. Dates are a great food for people wanting to energise a sluggish nervous system or keep their mind sharp.
Dates also have impressive levels of iron which make them a perfect dietary supplement for people suffering from anaemia. They are also a good source of protein, dietary fibre and are rich in Vitamin B1, B2, B3, B5. The B vitamins are good for easing stress, treating anxiety and depression, they aid in memory and they help relieve PMS, to name just a few!
And just in case you’re wondering how all this sugary goodness might impact on your dental health, rest at ease. Dates are rich in the element fluorine, which is a relative of fluoride, that enamel-friendly compound that can actually help reverse early tooth decay.
So, while you follow your own path on your journey to health, be sure to keep a packet of dates handy for when you need some sweet stuff – and remember, natural sugar is not the devil it’s made out to be!
- 7 Secrets to Beating Your Sugar Cravings (onegreenplanet.org)
- The Sugar Trap – the not so sweet facts on sugar (drkyleynd.wordpress.com)