Say dessert in America and we conjure images of chocolate cake or in my case Tiramisu but that isn't what the French necessarily mean by dessert. Truth is as Americans we are addicted to sugar and high fructose corn syrup how else can you describe a country where the average daily consumption of 25 to 35 teaspoons a day. If that doesn't shock you this should, in one year the average American consumes 150 to 170 pounds of sugar. Are we addicted, well look at those numbers again and let it soak in how else can you explain consuming 170 pounds of sugar in a year. I know you don't think you have that much but you are forgetting about all of the hidden sugar/corn syrup found in everything from fast food french fries to your fat free ranch dressing, yeah how did you think they made those fat free salad dressings? Non fat typically means more sugar so stay away from all non fat items and opt for low fat. So how do the French eat dessert several nights a week and not consume more sugar then us?
First you need to understand that dessert doesn't mean the same thing to them. The average Parisienne finds our version of dessert a bit too sweet and lean more toward savory, tart, bitter or more sour flavors. A cheese and fruit platter with a glass of wine is considered dessert, I can just see my kids faces when I pull that out for dessert with their noses all squinched up and looking at me like I was from another planet. Or if I pulled out the 1 square of dark chocolate for each kid to finish off the cheese plate and they realized I am serious it's only 1 square. The Parisian woman understands the concept of everything in moderation and what we would consider a serving is 2 to 3 times less than what we consider a serving to be. Now since it is Americans that are suffering an epedemic of obiesity and health realated problems from being over wieght I think we can all agree we aren't getting it right. We have kids as young as elementary school with high cholesterol problems so maybe we need to make some real changes in our relationship with food.
Sugar is an addiction that it is killing us, if that doesn't scare you it is also one of the leading causes of premature aging. No joke, sugar attacks the collagen in your skin so your skin will start sagging earlier then it should. It has been linked to several health problems from the obvious diabetes to an array of mental/emotional disorders as well as breaking down your immunity. As we are seeing a rise in ADD and ADHD that may be linked with the increasing amounts of sugar it isn't a far stretch to say sugar may be the culprit. Sugar is toxic, I am not being an alarmist it is simply the truth. Ever since we jumped on to the nonfat craze our sugar intake has risen dramatically and we didn't even realize it but to make these dressings and other items nonfat they had to increase the amount of sugar in order to make up the taste we lost from the fat. We see these facebook posts or some magazine style talk show (insert Dr Oz, Oprah, Today Show and so on) about doing a 30 day sugar detox that I should probably do but they are a bit intense and require a massive change immediately.
I don't think it is reasonable to say change dessert to a fruit and or cheese platter over night and honestly that would be against the Parisian conept of never denying yourself. Truthfully the minute we go on these crazy diet changes we find we are craving it more then we ever did. I don't drink pop but if I declared I will never drink pop again in about 4 hours I will be craving it to a point that i make myself crazy. I think it is part of human nature to want what you can't have and what ends up happening is we go on a binge. Instead make smaller changes that you can ease into and eventually get to a more healthy relationship with our food. Changes that won't flip that 'I have to have it right now in mass quantities' switch. Slow and steady wins the race, you know crash diets never work, what always happens is you gain all of the wieght back plus 5 to 10 more. This is called The Parisian Lifestyle Makeover because that is the only real way to make lifetime changes. It needs to become second nature and not be a punishment.
How To Reduce Your Sugar Intake:
Do this slowly so you don't go into withdrawals or make it a punishment. The goal is a Lifestyle change not a 'diet'
STOP buying non fat items instead look for low fat because you need fat in your diet it gives you energy and remember they tend to add more sugar to make things non fat
Be on the lookout for hidden sugar. Read labels, look at the ingredients, nutritional daily value, the amount of sugar per serving and what a serving size actually is.
Be mindful on what you eat, don't bury your head in the sand and know what you are eating, what a serving size is and how much sugar or high fructose corn syrup is in that serving
Break the Pop habit this includes diet pop, sugary drinks, sports drinks and juices (juices typically have a lot of sugar).
Studies show that diet pop actually makes you eat more so in the end you are adding calories not removing them
Sugary drinks trigger the need for salty empty calories and have NO nutritional value
If you like the fizz mineral water may be the answer for you it has worked for me. They make flavored mineral water just read the ingridients to make sure they are not using sugar. I typically flavor it myself with lemon, lime or an orange slice
If you put sugar in your coffee or tea you can either cut the amount in half and keep reducing over the next month to preferably no sugar but if you really need that sugar reduce it by 75%
Sugar substitutes can be used especially for those of you that just can't give it up but you need to be cautious
Stevia has a slight metallic after taste and is much sweeter then it's sugar counterpart so a little goes a long way
Stevia is a natural sweetner from a plant found in South America. It has been used for decades I believe Japan uses Stevia over chemical sugar substitutes in about 40% of products.
Stevia in the Raw is the best choice but read the label becuase it may be a blend. The liquid is the best but you can get the dry version. It will look like powder with no crystals again the ONLY ingredient listed should be Stevia
You can use Coconut Sugar of Cocunut Palm Sugar
Has a nice carmelized flavor
Palm Sugar is not the same as Coconut Sugar/Coconut Palm Sugar you want Coconut Sugar and read the label carefully. Like Stevia some brands are not pure Coconut Sugar but a blend, you don't want a blend
Coconut Sugar actually has nutrients were refined sugar does not so it is a better option and fits my 'diet' plan, ' if doesn't have any nutritional value don't eat it'
It has a fiber called Inulin that can actually slow down glucose absorbtion
May have a lowe GI (glycemic Index)
Switch to Dark Chocolate over Milk it isn't as bland so it may help you to keep from binge eating. Again PORTION CONTROL, you don't want to deprive yourself but you also need to not over indulge. It's a balancing act
REDUCE your serving sizes. You don't want to deprive yourself but you don't want to over do it. Portion Hack: If you make cookies only bake what you need to satisfy your craving and freeze the rest of the batter. If I make a pound cake I will cut it into small portions, wrap them individually and put them in the freezer in my basement.
If you are craving something sweet why not grab some fruit? These natual sugars will curb your craving and bonus they are good for you. They feed your body and skin so your body will behave the way it is suppose to. Diet Hack: I read an article once that bananas can curb your cravings for chocolate somethign about the chemical reaction that your body produces being the same as it is for chocolate
The Plan For The Parisian Lifestyle Dessert Edition:
Only eat at the table this is imperative if we are wanting to eat more mindfully.
No TV, no tablet and no phone again we are wanting to be mindful when we eat so we make better decisions
Eat in small courses that are plated not family style it is the only way to control portions and it goes back to eating mindfully as well as it turns your family meals into an experience. It doesn't mean you have to become a gourmet chef it doesn't need to be elaborate
First Course could be as simple as a salad or a risotto
Second Course could be soup or your main meal
Third Course either your main meal or dessert with a glass of wine because everything is better with wine
Clear dishes and clean the kitchen in between courses besides making the clean up easier you are allowing your mind to catch up with your stomach
Information on Coconut Sugar: The Authority Nutrition http://authoritynutrition.com/coconut-sugar/
Stevia: Regev Elya http://regevelya.com/stevia-sweetener/
Effects Of Sugare: Womens Health http://www.womenshealthmag.com/health/how-sugar-affects-the-body
Stevia: Wikipedia https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stevia
Coconut Sugar: Dr Weil http://www.drweil.com/drw/u/QAA401323/Is-Coconut-Sugar-a-Healthier-Sweetener.html
Effects of Sugar: The Authority Nutrition http://authoritynutrition.com/10-disturbing-reasons-why-sugar-is-bad/
I am not a doctor nor am I a nutritionalist and can not give an expert opinion. After getting RSD I have been researching food and how it effects my body and disease. I did an elimination diet to find out what foods caused me more issues and worked with my doctors. Before you try a new diet, add supplements or start an exercise routine you need to seek advice from your doctor.