Holiday challenges

This time of year is the toughest time for staying sugar free. There's a lot of pressure to consume treats made by the family, and to partake in them as part of the ritual of tradition associated with all the holidays in general. If I'm going to backslide- even on purpose- it's going to be now.

My mother makes amazing cheesecakes- award winners, in fact. Aunt Judy makes lovely fudge. These things come out around this time of year, and I do in fact indulge in them. I figure it this way- once a year is appropriate to consume sugar, as a rare treat, the way sugar should be treated. At first I felt pretty guilty about it- how can I keep my status as a hardcore non-sugar freak if I sit here eating this amazing cheesecake?

Then I got to thinking. If it doesn't lead to the slippery slope (like smokers taking back up butts at parties... and then it's all downhill from there) and I stay conscious of what I am doing, then no harm done. I can stay aware, and make the choice to eat what my mother made, and go back to eating normally after the fact.

So this year I made the cheesecake. Pumpkin cheesecake, in fact. I used sucanat instead of straight white sugar- sucanat being the very stuff they strip out of the sugar when it's being processed. It still behaves as sugar in the body- eliciting a glycemic reaction, insulin release, etc... but at least it has some nutritional value (minerals). And it's just damn good cheesecake. Everyone enjoyed it, and to prevent myself from eating it every day since I brought it home, I instead brought it to a friend's house and unleashed it on a bunch of stoned grad students. Ha! A perfect way to get rid of the evidence!

Tonight, to remind myself that I can return to my basic healthy way of eating, I made stevia chocolate pudding (it came out runny- sigh; it is an endless battle, this pudding, it never comes out the same way). When Yule passes and Christmas rolls around again, I will be challenged once more- but I will simply try some of my family's treats and let it go again.

When I 'fell off the wagon' a couple of years ago (as I stated in a previous post) I never figured out how to get back on. I surrendered to the urge, to the addiction of sugar, and submerged myself into the depths of it. Since I have worked so hard to climb back out, I am unwilling to jump back in, to slide down that slope once more. This is how I want to live my life.

However- until I experiment and come up with a cheesecake recipe that doesn't involve sugar (or sucanat), I will save the once-a-year indulgement and go with it. I can return to normal, as I have proved to myself.

On that note- it's hard to convert recipes! Some things are forgiving, like ice cream, pudding and PB cups... but other things, such as baked goods, are far more difficult. Removing an entire cup of dry ingredient is a true challenge- it changes the chemistry of the product, and it isn't easy. Stevia does not behave the same as sugar chemically, nor is it one for one anyway. Sugar has a wonderous set of properties that lend it to baking- melting, carmelizing, making things sticky. Stevia has none of these properties, being a powdered concentrated herb. It remains a challenge.

So- if you are on this journey with me this season, good luck! Try to stay sugar free but don't beat yourself up if a slide happens- just get back onto your path after, and be kind to yourself. Honestly, it is kindness to my mother that I do backslide- I know it's hurtful to turn it down, and it means more to me that she feel that her efforts are not wasted. I can only educate and convert so many people.


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