During office hours when I was studying functional nutrition, best selling author and functional medicine guru, Dr. Mark Hyman, described sugar as a recreational drug. As with most “recreational drugs” I don’t have an off switch. It’s been a struggle particularly since becoming sober. “Why do I crave sugar, and why can’t I stop eating it?” is probably the number one question I get asked, and it’s a complicated one.
Why am I craving sugar and when will it stop?
In the first few days or weeks of sobriety, you’re going to crave sugar and if eating sugary treats and simple carbs helps to keep you away from your drug of choice, I think that’s ok. The initial cravings are your body’s way of trying to balance your blood sugar. Secondarily and notably, sugary foods cause a release of dopamine which can mimic the response that happens when you ingest alcohol or drugs.
There are many reasons to avoid sugar, it causes blood sugar spikes and drops, which directly affects mood and energy level and it’s related to a number of health problems including heart disease, diabetes and an increase in inflammation.
Does this mean you have to eliminate sugar from your diet entirely? I don’t believe so. What would life be like without the occasional cookie or bowl of ice cream? I really wish suggesting a ‘handful of raspberries’ to replace say, a piece of cake would be eliminated from the nutritionist handbook. I’ve not found that works. Same with ‘good’ and ‘bad’ foods, or associating what you’re eating with being ‘good’ or bad’ yourself. This can lead to bingeing. I once spent an entire weekend in the early weeks of my sobriety eating nothing but buttered sourdough bread and handfuls of gummy bears. This I do not recommend.
A diet of whole foods including healthy low fat proteins, whole grains and plenty of fruits and vegetables should be the goal and will go a long way in preventing cravings. As in, don’t do what I did and eat these foods to the exclusion of an otherwise heathy diet.
There are ways to satisfy a sweet tooth without your blood sugar going on a roller coaster ride. Consuming whole foods that contain natural sugar is a better choice when possible. Plant foods also have high amounts of fiber, essential minerals, and antioxidants. Fiber in particular is crucial. Since your body digests these foods slowly, the sugar in them offers a steady supply of energy to your cells.
Why this recipe?
I love this recipe for those reasons, and because these truffles are satisfying and delicious! These chocolate truffles are rich and chewy and sweetened naturally with dates, cacao and almond butter. They are both raw and vegan and a snap to make. Everything goes in the processor, then is scooped out, rolled into balls, and topped with everything from vegan chocolate ganache with sea salt, to almonds or coconut or chocolate ganache and almonds or coconut! Best of all, because of the fiber and protein from the dates and almond butter, it will introduce the sugar slowly and help maintain healthy blood sugar levels. It’s a nutritious powerhouse and delicious. I hope you’ll add this to your recipe file and enjoy as a healthy snack or dessert!
Your dates should be plump and shiny! They do have a small pit that will need to be removed. I simply pull them apart to access the pit and then roughly chop.
- 18 medium dates, pitted and roughly chopped
- ⅓ cup almond butter
- ⅓ cup cacao, or any high quality organic cocoa powder
- 1 T coconut oil
- 2-3 T water
- 1 tsp vanilla
- ½ tsp salt
- For ganache
- 3 T coconut oil melted
- 3 T cacao or organic cocoa powder
- 1 T maple syrup
- Pulse dates in food processor until a chunky paste forms
- Add the rest of the ingredients and pulse until combined. It will come together quickly.
- If mixture is too dense, and difficult to mix, add more water by the tablespoon full, it should cling together and be easy to roll into balls
- Scoop by tablespoonfuls and roll into balls and place on a baking tray. I use a mini ice cream scoop.
- Make ganache:
- Combine all ingredients and cool slightly to thicken, then dip truffles, roll in coconut or chopped nuts if desired, and place on a rack or baking sheet to set.
- Enjoy room temperature or straight from the fridge.