Medjool dates as a sugar substitute

Medjool dates as a sugar substitute

mejool datesOver the past few weeks my husband and I have been following a no added sugar diet.  He had been to the doctor about a month ago and found that his blood tests showed his A1C was a 7 and that he had also now developed high blood pressure.  The high blood pressure pushed me over.  I think it did for him, too.  His grandpa passed from a massive stroke.  This is not something either of us want to experience.  Over my almost 30 years in healthcare, I have learned that, many times, so many health issues are avoidable and that pills are just band-aids and not solutions to rectify a root cause of the health issue.

SO… I in my last article I wrote how we had found a book by Dr. Mark Hyman, the 10 Day Diet Detox.  I’m not going to lie.  It’s been quite a lot of work for me to shop and to be creative with recipes and make modifications to accommodate a whole food diet.  And I’m at the food store frequently because we really do go through a lot of vegetables and meat.

BUT, the results have been amazing!  Jim is down almost 23 pound in 26 days.  I am down 7 (I started at 123 pounds).  And, he hasn’t even started exercising yet.

Over these past few weeks, we have pretty much learned that the carbohydrates in our diet make us fat and that (my opinion) the food pyramid is killing our people.  I’ve been working hard to keep our blood sugar from spiking due to consuming high sugar (glycemic) foods, and have been very careful to avoid processed foods – even salad dressings, although we did have some honey mustard dressing from Whole Foods (365 brand) yesterday which did have 5 grams of sugar in a 2 tablespoon serving (but there is honey in there).  I also have used their prepared olive oil balsamic and red wine vinegar dressings for convenience, as there are no preservatives or ingredients I would not eat in there.  The red wine dressing also has no sugar and is pretty tasty!

So, for the past 26 days, we have been dairy free, gluten free, carb free (except for tons and tons of veggies), sugar free, except for sugar in the foods themselves, like a tomato or the strawberries or blueberries in our morning power smoothies.  We have eliminated all bread and pasta and have been very selective with starchy vegetables like potatoes.  We have had 1 sweet potato over the past 26 days, and I have substituted things like cauliflower mashed potatoes and zucchini spirals “pasta” sauteed with garlic and olive oil into our dinners.  Yesterday I made zucchini pancakes using grated zucchini, coconut flour an egg, salt and pepper fried in olive oil.  Really delicious!

Additionally, I am a New York State Diabetes Prevention Counselor.  For the past 3 years I have been telling people to follow a low fat low calorie diet.  While the NYS recommended preventive diet was not intended for people to substitute “low fat” foods like low fat cookies, but to choose lean meats and veggies as the primary food choices, the NYS recommendations have not advocated for eating fats.  The results of my participants, if they stuck with it over the 16 week program, did show weight loss, but not a fast drop.

Jim’s results have been incredible in comparison. As I’ve been speaking to a “low fat low calorie” over the past 3 years, I had a hard time initially accepting the recommendations in the books by Dr. Hyman that you consume good fats – lots and lots of them.  The calories!!!!

BUT — for the past 26 days we have eaten more fat than we have eaten in our lives – nuts… lots and lots of nuts – almond butter, coconut oil, walnuts, pecans, pistachios…. and avocados, and olive oil… and Jim lost weight and I lost weight.  Again, his weight loss has astounded me.

I’m not going to lie, the shift in our food choices is still a huge commitment – a choice – and had been an adjustment from eating bagels and such.  The first week was pretty tough. There is no doubt about it.  No matter what, you need to commit with any program you choose – and the program has to be sustainable, a forever change for the rest of your life.  I think it is important to consider the consequences if you don’t make the shift. With Jim’s circumstance, the risk of Type 2 diabetes was so great.  At 53 years old, he finally did commit, and I am so proud of him.

There have been no sacrifices here. We are not hungry. We eat 6-8 ounces of protein with our meals, tons of veggies, soup, nuts and more. No fake shakes or supplements – real food. We have snacks.  We eat foods I would never have considered to serve on a “diet”.  There is no DIE-t here.  We are not eating LOW CALORIE.  We don’t measure food.  We don’t track what we eat.  We have just eliminated the foods we shouldn’t eat and have changed the way we eat.  Think about it.  Humans were hunter gatherers initially before someone invented bread and chocolate chip cookies.  The whole thing makes sense if you really think about it.

Dr. Hyman’s book is also intended to detox your body from the toxins in our foods, like MSG which is hidden in everything.  I feel healthier than I have my whole life.  I had been gluten free for years but still experienced joint pain, abdominal pain, bloating, fatigue, and more. I now feel amazing. No pain, no inflammation.  I even “detoxed” from coffee – as per Dr. Hyman’s recommendations.  I never thought I would be able to do this, as I was the hugest coffee fiend.  But  my energy levels have incredibly increased with no “highs” and “lows”.  I no longer need the afternoon cup to keep me going.

However, after 26 days, as a recovering dessert fiend, I really needed a cookie.  That is just a mental need, not an actual food requirement. Nevertheless, I have been researching the glycemic index in sugars and honey for what I could make to avoid blood sugar spikes while enjoying a periodic special treat.  Yesterday, after researching recipes including paleo recipes, I did make a cookie that reminded us of macaroons that included coconut oil, coconut flour, unsweetened coconut, cacao nibs, and honey. Definitely not “diet”, but acceptable in the food choices we have been following.  But, through the research I have been doing, honey, while totally good for you, does seem to potentially increase blood sugars in diabetics and is recommended to be used in moderation.

OK — so I’ve learned that except for things like romaine lettuce or green non-starchy veggies, everything needs to be used in moderation.

But, I did find the sugar substitute I have been looking for — and none of those yucky chemicals which I refuse to use.

Interestingly enough I found article after article that Medjool dates not only don’t spike blood sugars and that they are good for lowering bad cholesterol, good for your heart, and have a ton of antioxidants.  Here’s an easy to read article I would recommend http://wholefoodsexplorer.com/2014/03/05/reasons-love-dates-the-fruit

There are recommendations that Medjool dates can be used 1:1 as a sugar substitute in recipes.  I have to go to my sister’s for dinner tomorrow night and will definitely be bringing a desert recipe with me.  I’m really excited to try it!

By the way — I did purchase the Medjool dates from Trader Joe’s.  From a few articles I have read, they seem to be softer than those found in other places and that they are easier to use, as it is recommended to soak the dates in hot water before pureeing to mix into recipes when substituting for the sugar.

Please note that this article is not a substitute for medical intervention, but is a report on some of the findings we have experience with our diet change and research I have been doing.  Please do ask your doctor before you try anything… and, please find a different doctor if all your current doctor does is just give you prescriptions.

After all, it’s time to enjoy life.  If you are not healthy, you cannot enjoy life.  Trust me, I’ve worked in skilled nursing homes since 2001.

Every moment of every day should be like play.  Make your life the best it can be.

Love,

Doreen

# # #

Doreen Guma, MA, FACHE, CPC, CLC is a board certified healthcare executive, a certified professional life coach, the founder of the Time to Play Foundation, a 501c3 not for profit corporation inspiring everyone to enjoy life and author of If I Knew Then What I Know Now, Our Quest for Quality of Life.  The concept behind time to Play and the Time to Play Foundation was absolutely created out of LOVE. Please see www.timetoplay.com for more information.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *