At the same time I decided to go refined sugar-free for “lent” I also committed to a 40 day yoga challenge. I was already attending classes 4-6 times a week, and with the reward of a free unlimited month pass & three workshops after successful completion, I was sold. All I had to do was show up to the studio every single day for the next 5+ weeks. I was hoping that these two challenges would result in a healthier, stronger, happier, more balanced sense of self — at minimum I knew they could do no harm.
With 35 days under my belt, I am already pleased the with evolution. Over the last month my yoga practice has deepened, I am able to move into poses that were previously a struggle. I feel lightness and a new sense of energy sometimes when moving into inversions, and I am beginning to really get in tune with the breath. On the food side, I have been craving whole foods and have been spending a lot of time in the kitchen.
My search for refined sugar-free treats has opened up a wonderful world of raw and vegan desserts and a lot of new amazing blogs. I almost can’t believe I did not know about the beauty of dates, cashews, raw cacao, cacao butter, lucuma, maca, coconut oil, or banana “ice cream” before. These healthy ingredients can come together in so many different ways to create luscious, satisfying treats that don’t leave you sluggish. There is so much room for creativity while still adding antioxidants, vitamins, minerals, and protein to your body.
Some things I have made:
- date caramel
- raw chocolate mini peanut butter cups
- goji berry cacao energy bars
- banana fro-yo sundae with chocolate & peanut butter drizzle
- coconut whipped cream with strawberries
- a birthday pie for Scott made up of: pretzel & graham cracker crust, peanut butter caramel, chocolate avocado pudding, and peanut butter cashew frosting
- baked carrot cake oatmeal with yogurt cashew sauce
- overnight oats (plain & chocolate)
Of course the purpose of going off of refined sugar was to reduce my cravings, not just find substitutes, but after many hours of blog searching I was excited to experiment. I have not been indulging in these healthier sweets on the regular, but they are simple pleasures that make this 40 day journey so much easier when faced with a whole gamut of temptations. I also think little treats have a place in the diet, if something can bring you such sensory pleasure there is no need to deny it if you can incorporate in a non-destructive way.
The best thing about committing to something for 40 days is that it is enough time that it becomes a habit. Whereas in the first two weeks I actively thought about making time for yoga and consciously had to turn down sugar, it has now become second nature. It no longer feels like a conscious task, but rather like a lifestyle. After the 40 days are up I have little interest in returning to refined sugar, unless it is for something that is really worth it. I’m talking about things such as a freshly baked pain au chocolate or birthday cake. Same goes for refined flour. No need to eat crappy commercial bread, but I’ll be damned if a perfectly crusty baguette crosses my path.
Some of the blogs that I have found serious inspiration in are: Oh She Glows, My New Roots, The First Mess, Oh Ladycakes, Top With Cinnamon, Sidesaddle Kitchen, and This Rawsome Vegan Life — check them out for some innovative, healthy, whole-food based recipes and gorgeous photography.