Is your job stressing you out and leaving you depleted of energy, especially in the afternoons? Is this rainy summer weather getting you down? Do you experience pangs of hunger and cravings for sweets hours before finishing time? If so then you could certainly do with a nice energy boost that doesn’t leave you feeling guilty as a can of fizzy pop or a sugar-laden chocolate bar would! Don’t worry – this is not an ad for the latest big brand energy bar. This is just my inner voice.
Last year, every other day during the work week, I would use the remainder of my lunch break scurrying over to the branch of one major health food chain that is situated just around the corner from my office. I would be perusing the products in the snack section offering a wide variety of muesli and granola bars, flapjacks and protein balls – “raw” this and “healthy” that (I’d say the word “raw” has been totally, and to me cringeworthily, “in” for way too long now). The choice was endless, all proclaiming the same health benefits. On closer look though I noticed how much sugar these snacks all contained. Even though most sugar was coming from dried fruit such as dates and raisins/ sultanas, they themselves are almost all sugar. On top of dried fruit, several of these “raw” energy bars also contained at least one other kind of sweetener, for instance agave syrup or concentrated fruit juice. Certainly, it is hard to cut out any kind of sweetener in a snack that is supposed to be a sweet treat for your taste buds. I myself have an overwhelmingly huge sweet tooth, a kind of habit that has formed in early childhood. It is tough to kick that habit and even harder to not put yourself down when you fall off the wagon. However, shortly before Easter last year, after following a low sugar diet for almost three weeks, it felt easier to say no to a piece of chocolate someone offered me or to feel content after eating a piece of fruit and some nuts in the afternoon. I felt rather chuffed with myself until a few days after my low-sugar adaptation process I stumbled onto a half-price offer of my favourite ice cream brand in my local supermarket. I felt compelled to take up the offer, bought the 500ml tub of ice cream and ate it all over the course of a day and a half. Since then I’d been having sugar cravings every day and needed to start all over with my efforts. I was trying not to put myself down because of that; nevertheless it is hard work to recover from my relapse – I know it all too well, because similar scenarios happened over and over again as the year progressed. I had to realise that, in the end, I am really just sabotaging myself.
Avoiding sugar is hard, especially when you hit the supermarket aisles. Hardly anything that comes in a box or wrapper (even savoury foods) is devoid of sugar. Cooking from scratch would be the most sensible option to cut down on the sweet stuff. My main priority was to create a snack that would help me stay focused at work as soon as the afternoon slump would usually kick in and keep me going until dinner time, such as my creation of sugar free Chocolate & Almond Energy Balls, Crudités, a variety of Nuts and Seeds, Summer Raspberry Yoghurt, and Oatcakes with various toppings.
Author: Danica Utermohlen
Picture credits: Danica Utermohlen
Disclaimer: This article has been edited. It was first published on 02/03/2015 for GloTIME, http://glotime.tv/spring-boost-chocolate-almond-energy-balls/