Sugar free snacks for kids on a low sugar diet

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Many of those who are eating less sugar are curious about what to eat for snacks. In this post, I offer concrete ideas of satisfying sugar free snacks, especially for kids. I also offer an idea for how to reframe how you define a “snack.”

I also offer a surprising way to help your children transition into eating healthier snacks, especially if they’re used to eating processed, packaged goodies like goldfish crackers, granola bars or cookies between meals.

The way to give our children a healthy relationship with food isn’t what we’ve been taught by the media (educate kids on nutrition!) It’s intuitive, and lies in our hearts. Like the bears in the photo, it’s about relationship:  when we have their hearts and we lead them, they follow.

Read on to learn more.

What is a snack?

In many Western cultures, we equate snacks with “treats” or dessert – muffins, cookies, biscuits, ice cream, chips, crackers, and all sorts of tasty things that come in boxes and packages. So when you’re cutting down on sugar, and eating more unprocessed, whole foods, you may feel stumped about what snacking can look like.

It may help to separate the notion of “treats” and “snacks.” I think of snacks as a mini meal – an opportunity to nourish the body when it’s hungry. A treat is just that – a treat. Often not nutritious, but something that gives us pleasure and that we can absolutely enjoy.

Most of my snacks are snacks – mini meals – not treats. (I share more below.) And I do eat treats a few times a week – something different than what I did 6 or 7 years ago, when I first stopped eating sugar and gave myself no treats. My treats include things like potato chips, baked fruit (which is very sweet for me), carob almonds, or popcorn. (Here’s an example of my favorite treat – my no sugar, no flour birthday cake – a recipe my husband created and makes for me.)

If you measured it, I probably follow an 80/20 rule, where 80% of my food choices are really, really nourishing, and 20% are for fun! (If your relationship with sugar feels like 20/80 – where you eat sugar 80% of the time and healthy food 20% of the time – you may enjoy this article on how to say no to sugar without white knuckling it.)

But this is how I do it and what feels balanced for me. I offer my life as an example, not a prescription, and invite you to sit with your heart to find the balance of treating that your body needs.

When do you need a snack?

You may find that as you eat less sugar and fewer processed foods that your blood sugar stabilizes and that you feel more satisfied by your meals. You may not need to snack as often. I have low blood sugar, so I eat every 4 hours or so. I also find that eating a meal with balanced ratios of fat, protein and complex carbs satisfies me for several hours and leads to less hunger between meals.

And yet, the afternoon is often a time when my body needs a snack, especially as we tend to eat dinner later due to family activities. I’m often out during the afternoon with children’s activities, and so I typically take a snack with me. (I keep nuts in my car for just the purpose).

If I’m going to be gone for more than a quick trip, I’ll pack an insulated lunch box with a variety of foods:  almonds; cooked sliced chicken breast, some cooked cold green beans, and baby carrots with hummus. I also take a big bottle of water.

This is where advance preparation can make a huge impact. For years, I ate whole foods while at home, but ate lots of processed food at parties or when running errands. Because I didn’t plan, I’d show up at birthday parties starving, or would be so hungry after running errands all day that I’d give in to the first food I saw:  usually junk.  Now, I care for myself by planning ahead and taking the time to take food with me.

Low sugar snacks

For snacks, I often have nuts:   pumpkin seeds, walnuts, pistachios and almonds are my favorites. I love to pair them with a low sugar fruit, like a tart green apple or some berries. Many times, I’ll have a small meal, such as a bowl of soup or a salad, when I’m hungry.

But what about children’s snacks? While I serve my children an abundance of whole foods, I also make room for treats. My kids do eat sugar, and my husband and I offer them intentional treats. If you took a picture of my pantry and fridge right now, you’d find tons and tons of healthy, nourishing food – as well as low sugar granola and potato chips in the pantry and dark chocolate covered bananas and a gallon of ice cream in the freezer.

For example, our kids have a treat every week during our Friday night movie nights, such as fresh popped popcorn in coconut oil with fruit spritzers; sugar sweetened (vs. corn syrup sweetened) ice cream with berries and nuts, a homemade, almond flour berry crisp or said chocolate covered bananas. This is the balance that works for our family.

How to help your child love healthy food

One of the surprising things I’ve learned about weaning my children off too much processed or sugary foods is that as the mom – the provider and caretaker – I need to take it upon myself to offer and prepare healthy food for my children. This is not something to leave up to my children, nor to make their responsibility. This knowledge came from studying with my mentor, Dr. Gordon Neufeld, and his attachment based theory of child development.

We often tell children – especially children who are old enough to do so – to fix themselves a snack or healthy food when they’re hungry. Then we can feel frustrated when we find them later, snacking on junk. But this misses an understanding of how children grow and develop.

It’s a paradox:  we foster independence in our children not by forcing or pushing independence, but by fostering dependence. The more children feel cared for and nurtured the more they want to stand on their own two feet and learn to do it themselves. It’s how they internally develop those models and patterns and forms of, “This is how I eat. This is how I care for my body. This is what makes my body feel good.”

If you want your children to internalize a healthy relationship with food and want them to choose healthy foods on their own as they grow and leave home, you need to create a positive food culture that associates loving memories of connection, contact, closeness, and pleasure with healthy food.

It’s these positive memories, combined with your provision of healthy food, that is their best bet against unhealthy eating habits – not indoctrinating your children to the dangers of junk food or explaining why they need certain foods or why they shouldn’t eat others.

If you want to learn more about this idea, you may enjoy reading Jeannie Marshall’s memoir, The Lost Art of Feeding Kids, her story of raising her son in the food culture of Italy and her understanding of how we pass on a love of healthy food to our children.

Move to care for your child by feeding them

One of the keys to this approach is to offer your children regular, hearty meals of whole foods. I find that my children will often say, “I’m not hungry” when I ask them if they want something to eat. But if I move to care for them and prepare food for them, they will happily eat it – even foods like vegetables! It’s not that they’re not hungry when they say, “I’m not hungry,” – more accurately, it’s that they’re tired and they don’t feel like cooking themselves something healthy. It’s why they eat chips or candy instead – it takes no effort to prepare these foods.

What they’re needing and wanting is to be cared for and fed. This is an invitation for us to move to meet their needs, to be their answer and offer them healthy, nourishing food. This longing to be fed and nourished is no different than how we feel at the end of the day – tired, worn out and hungry. We also long to return home to a delicious, healthy home cooked meal and the greater sense of relaxation that comes from being cared for.

Some ideas of healthy snacks

So rather than serving snack foods, or spending hours buying, reading labels, or trying to find a healthy snack food that is sugar free, try making yourself or your child a mini meal when they’re hungry. Here are some ideas from my family’s repertoire:

  • Dinner leftovers from the night before – a bowl of soup is especially satisfying at 4 p.m.
  • A huge salad with veggies, some protein (meat, cheese, nuts, etc.), tart apples, and a tangy, rich homemade dressing. I like this one from Well Fed author, Melissa Joulwan. My kids LOVE this dressing. I quadruple the recipe as it goes so fast in our house.
  • Veggies and homemade ranch dip (I make this dairy free ranch with coconut cream here)
  • If you or your children can handle grains, try toast (made on sprouted, grainless bread) with almond butter or unsweetened peanut butter
  • A cheese and salami plate (we like the Applegate farms brand that is nitrate free)
  • Nitrate free bacon and a fried egg (We eat a lot of bacon at our house.)
  • Guacamole and veggies (We live in Texas and eat a lot of guacamole.)
  • Hummus and veggies
  • Corn tortillas with hot melted cheddar cheese, black beans, and salsa. (I put several on a cookie sheet and stick them in the broiler until they’re warm and the cheese is melted and bubbly. Yes, I am known to forget that there are tortillas in the broiler and to notice the alarming smell of something burning.)
  • A serving of low sugar fruit, such as an apple, some berries, tangerines or a nectarine, with some peanut butter, almond butter or nuts
  • An apple or banana, cut into slices, with almond butter
  • Plain yogurt or plain greek yogurt with almonds and berries (We use fresh when available; frozen berries in the winter.)
  • A rice cake with cream cheese and peanut butter, sometimes with a dash of a no-sugar added jam (I know it sounds odd, but my kids loved these when they were small. I don’t feed them these so much now as I’m not sure rice cakes are the  most nutritious thing in the world, but I’m leaving it here as an option of what worked at the time.)
  • Set out a plate of veggies, like cherry tomatoes, sugar snap peas, and red peppers, some diced grilled, leftover chicken, hardboiled eggs, and some leftover meatballs
  • Nuts:  almonds, cashews and pistachios are my kid’s favorites
  • Smoothies:  we probably make a smoothie 7-8 times a week in our house. We use a variety of frozen fruit, unsweetened protein powder, greens, bananas, nuts, seeds – you can stick all sorts of healthy things in smoothies!
  • An antipasto platter of olives, sliced mozzarella cheese, tomatoes, and grapes
  • Tuna, salmon or chicken salad – we don’t eat much tuna anymore, as we prefer salmon for health reasons. Here’s how you can find wild caught, canned salmon. I make my own homemade mayo without sugar every week, and use it for all sorts of things, including meat salads. I use this recipe and omit the honey.
  • A piece of leftover fritatta from breakfast
  • Steamed broccoli with a baked red potato topped with lots of butter

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About the Author:

Karly Randolph Pitman
Karly Randolph Pitman helps men & women transform food compulsions like binge eating, sugar addiction, and body obsession through compassion and connection, from the inside out. In her classes and courses, she teaches people how to say no to sugar, binge eating, and body obsession - but the answer isn't what they think. Rather than learning strategies to control or manage the compulsion itself, Karly's “heart over binge” approach heals the inner dynamics that drive it, leading to freedom, relief and hope.

29 Comments

  1. Shane April 2, 2014 at 12:06 am - Reply

    Don’t apples and bananas (listed as sugar free snacks) contain a shed load of sugar?

    • Karly Randolph Pitman
      Karly Randolph Pitman April 6, 2014 at 3:55 am - Reply

      Hi Shane,

      Yes, indeed – fruit contains natural forms of sugar. Most people who are looking for support for a sugar free diet are looking for foods without added sugar, and not necessarily foods that have some natural sugar in them, like fruits and vegetables.

      There’s debate in the health community about how much natural sugar people should eat for maximum health. You may try Diane Sanfilippo’s work to answer this question, as she is a nutritionist who focuses on the what to eat question in a way that I find helpful.

      My focus is not on what to eat or how to eat, but on healing the emotional and psychological roots of sugar addiction, food addiction, and eating disorders.

      I hope that helps!

      Warmly, Karly

  2. Karly Randolph Pitman
    Karly Randolph Pitman May 1, 2013 at 5:28 pm - Reply

    Hi Mel,

    I encourage you to "chew up the meat and spit out the bones" – to take the ideas that work for you and use them, and to toss aside those that don't. These are options that work for me and my family – I appreciate that your body or that someone else's might need something different.

    Warmly, Karly

  3. Karly Randolph Pitman
    Karly Randolph Pitman May 1, 2013 at 5:26 pm - Reply

    Hi Mel,

    We each need different amounts of food, don't we? I have two growing boys right now, and I wonder if they might eat 2 baked potatoes these days!

    In love and care, Karly

  4. Mel April 26, 2013 at 8:47 pm - Reply

    Also, a baked potato is a bit much as a snack for a child. I'm an adult and I consider a baked potato about half of a meal.

  5. Mel April 26, 2013 at 8:46 pm - Reply

    Some of these ideas are good, but I'm apprehensive to heed any of the advice. When people reduce the processed sugar from their diets, they don't often increase their intake of saturated fat by using "lots" of butter and eating "a lot" of bacon.

  6. yourlocalsugarxpert March 22, 2013 at 4:27 am - Reply

    dearest author,

    bacon, at least most bacon, is cured in sugar. it won't be in the nutrition info, but it will be in the ingredients(if it is cured in sugar)

    thanks

  7. Karly Randolph Pitman
    Karly Randolph Pitman February 8, 2013 at 9:29 pm - Reply

    Lydia,

    I'm glad the ideas were helpful! May you continue to find peace and healing in your sweet body.

    In love and care, Karly

  8. Karly Randolph Pitman
    Karly Randolph Pitman February 8, 2013 at 9:28 pm - Reply

    You're very welcome Paige – I feel so glad I could help. Insomnia is the pits!

    XO, Karly

  9. Karly Randolph Pitman
    Karly Randolph Pitman February 8, 2013 at 9:27 pm - Reply

    Andrea, I feel so happy that you're finding healing in your physical and emotional body. Thank you for sharing your story with us here.

    In love and care, Karly

  10. Karly Randolph Pitman
    Karly Randolph Pitman February 8, 2013 at 9:26 pm - Reply

    Thank you for sharing your ideas, Emma!

    In love and care, Karly

  11. Andrea February 4, 2013 at 6:41 pm - Reply

    Wow, thank you all so much for these wonderful sugar free ideas! I’m getting older and my body is changing in all kinds of ways. :( Last summer out of the clear blue, my whole entire digestive system pretty much went downhill! I couldn’t keep anything down, waking with horrendous heartburn, etc. At the time, not knowing what on earth was going on with me….I started cutting out several things…just to attempt to try and relieve my symptoms. Tried a gluten free diet (I found GF to be extremely hard), I tried dairy free, and also weaned myself off of refined sugars. So here I am about 7 months since I first started having serious issues, and I’m still sugar free (I LOVED sweets/desserts and NEVER thought I’d be living sugar free! I do not desire sugar at all. So reading all of the above snack, dessert, meal, suggestions is a huge help. I have come a long way throughout this “journey”. I have since found out that I had/have 2 small ulcers and some areas of erosion in the lining of my stomach, that the GI Dr. is attributing to my issues. And I’m down 54 lbs!!!!! :) Largely due to cutting out sugars, eating small portions (I eat on a kiddie size plate or bowl), and I try to exercise at least 4 times a week. Anyways, thanks again!

  12. Paige W February 1, 2013 at 4:04 am - Reply

    Thanks! I needed an inspiring list of snacks because I get hives and insomnia from eating sugar but I love it so much. I'm making my shopping list and found your blog- thanks!

  13. Lydia July 27, 2012 at 8:11 pm - Reply

    Thank you so much for your snack ideas! I am beginning college soon and have been working on my health and fitness for some time now. I used to binge several times a day, and I ending up gaining quite a bit of weight the last couple of years. I am not overweight, but bingeing just made me feel terrible. After realizing that I was hurting God by trashing my temple, He began to give me the strength to resist the urge to binge. I am in no way perfect, but things are so much better now. I am eating more veggies, controlling my portions, and listening to my body more. Recently, however, I began to notice that I was consuming way too much sugar. I have been appalled several times by how much sugar you can consume in one day! Since then, I have been watching my sugar intake, but it is so difficult to find foods that are sugarfree! Thank you again for your help in that regard. I hope I can get off the sugar track for good soon!

  14. Emma Thorn October 7, 2011 at 5:56 am - Reply

    I have recently given up refined sugars too. It was hard at first but I always thought that I preferred to savoury to sweet anyway. But I thought that I would share with everyone the snacks that I eat sometimes that are low in sugars:

    - Peanut butter on celery
    - Savoury cheese oatcakes (very addictive)
    - Cashews or macadamias, almonds etc
    - Greek yoghurt with banana
    - Cheese and spinach muffins

    Sometimes I make my own cheese-flavoured popcorn like this:-

    Ingredients:
    2 tablespoons olive oil
    2oz/55g/1/3 cup popping corn
    1oz/25g/1/4 cup butter
    1oz/25g/1/4 cup parmesan
    Tiny pinch of salt (as parmesan is quite salty)

    1) Heat veg oil in large saucepan until hot. Add the popping corn and spread it around base of pan
    2) Cook the corn until it starts to pop and then put on a lid. Cook for three more minutes while shaking the pan
    3) Melt butter in a small pan over a low heat and stir in grated cheese and salt. Spoon over popcorn and mix well. YUM!

    Another one of the simplest recipes ever but so delicious is:

    Barbequed peaches

    Ingredients:
    1 peach
    Tin foil
    Greek yoghurt to serve

    1) Halve peach, wrap in tin foil
    2) Leave foil package on hot barbeque for 1hr – 1hr 1/2 or until soft
    3) You will then be left with a soft, sweet peach in peach juices which tastes absolutley gorgeous with some greek yoghurt

    TIP: You could also serve this as a phenomenal dessert, or experiment with other fruits. It would also taste very nice with a vanilla pod.

    I love making no-added sugar desserts such as:

    - combining sweet mango, natural yoghurt and mint to make a delicious frozen yoghurt dessert
    - mascapone with a little vanilla topped with black cherries and almonds
    - Papaya and banana platter
    - Baked puff pastry topped with creme fraiche and stewed fruit
    - Frozen berries blended with yoghurt and mint to make a berry ice cream
    - Sweet apples stuffed with apricots and almonds and baked
    - Making a naturally sweet mango fool with tinned mango pulp folded into whipped cream
    - Lychees are also naturally very sweet
    - Make the ultimate fruit platter with: lychees, mango slithers, blackberries, pomegranate seeds, kiwi, passionfruit, raspberries all served with greek yoghurt/or anything else you want with a vanilla pod. So good!

    For the ultimate sweet treat (which isn’t that healthy):

    Peanut Butter and Jam Bars

    - Either make (or buy) a shortbread base (that has been baked)
    - Top with peanut butter spread evenly
    - Spread on a fruit puree/ no sugar jam
    - Bake again for 25-30 mins

    These are very indulgent but nice!

    Onions are another vegetable that can taste very sweet. Here is my recipe for:-

    CARAMELISED ONION TART

    1oz/25g/1/4 cup butter
    600g/1 lb 5oz onions
    2 eggs
    100ml/ 31/2 flu oz/ 1/2 cup double (heavy) cream
    100g/ 31/2 flu oz/ 1/2 cup grated cheese (cheddar is nice or gruyere)
    20cm/8 inch ready baked pastry case (or make your own if you want)

    1) Melt butter over medium heat. Add onions and fry for 30 mins until onions are carmelized and sweet and very soft. Set pan aside.
    2) Preheat oven to 190/375/Gas mark 5.
    3) Beat the eggs in a large bowl, add the cream and season to taste. Add the cheese and reserve a little for the top of the tart. Stir in the cooked onions.
    4) Pour egg and onion mix into baked pastry case, sprinkle on cheese and bake in oven for 15-20 mins until the filling is set and is beginning to brown
    5) Leave to rest for 10 mins and then dig in! It tastes very sweet from the sweet onions!

    Some another snacks I like include:

    - Advocado
    - Wholegrain crackers with soft cheese and grapes
    - For breakfast sometimes I’ll have a toasted roll with mushrooms, apricots and yoghurt, pan scones or cheese scones.

    So thanks for reading and I hope what I wrote has given people some ideas about the things I eat and enjoy. Thanks for all the interesting suggestions for food snacks and I will be trying out some soon.

    Thanks!
    Emma Thorn

  15. CourtneyB August 25, 2011 at 2:28 am - Reply

    Karly,

    I am a young college student who often binges on sugary foods to deal with the pressures of life, especially losing weight. The thing is, sugary sweets are the only thing I can think of to look forward to. I use sweets often when I am upset, tired, or lonely. Is there a way I can make sure I don't turn to sweets for comfort? I have a strong feeling I am addicted to this method.

    Thanks!

  16. Susan Swan June 13, 2011 at 8:56 pm - Reply

    Hi Karly – Before I invest in your book just wanted to hear from you about a few things. I have always been a sneak eating sugar addict, since early childhood. Controlled my weight as a teen and young adult with eating disorders and lots of exercise. Went into parenthood late in life (40), and since then have gained almost 40 pounds, and eat cookies from dawn until dusk. When I have done hypnosis and/or weight watchers and eaten reasonably for two weeks or so I become uncontrollably hungry and go back to my old ways. The other issue is parenthood (I hate whining about parenthood, but on this point I have no choice). Between work and child, and the cost of babysitting, there’s not a lot of time/practicality in going to the gym and until parenthood the sugar addiction was “off set” by the exercise. How do I get past the rebound hunger/cravings, when I haven’t been successful, except with disfunctional methods, at any point in my life. How do I get my life “back” when I can’t find a way to build exercise (I am active, ride bike, actually play with my kid at the park etc) into my daily routine? Does the book address these issues? Also, I complain about my kid being a picky eater, but lets just say she gets it from her mother. The idea of giving up cookies for celery and almond butter just does nothing for me.

  17. Karly Randolph Pitman
    Karly Randolph Pitman January 16, 2011 at 11:52 pm - Reply

    Hi Katie, I am sincerely sorry! I will email you personally to get this figured out. Thank you for letting me know. XO Karly

  18. Katie January 16, 2011 at 8:12 pm - Reply

    Hi Karly,

    Your book interests me and I tried to order the ebook online with paypal and I have been stuck on the "Please wait while we validate your payment" page for an hour. I've clicked the "click here to refresh" link a couple times, but still have not been given access to the book. Have other people had this issue? I've never had a problem paying with paypal before. Please help.

    Thanks,

    Katie

  19. nikki June 17, 2010 at 3:03 am - Reply

    HI Karly,

    I'm confused, sometimes you mention eating a potato or corn. Aren't those no no"s?? I feel afraid to eat fruit as it may trigger a binge. Is this in my head. I thought potatoes are the worst…

    nikki

  20. Karly June 9, 2010 at 9:52 pm - Reply

    Hi Sarah,

    I love having someone cook for me – it's a great support for me as I get really tired of cooking and I like to try new things. So I look for restaurants/grocery stores that offer sugar free options. Health food stores are a great resource. Local restaurants that use local produce are another favorite – one of the reasons why I choose local restaurants over chain restaurants (the food is generally fresher, healthier and less processed.)

    That being said, sometimes you just do the best you can. When my daughter's soccer team went to Chili's at an out of town game, I went along and found something that was sugar free (chicken, broccoli and a baked potato.) I made do with what was available.

    There are times when I am eating out and I eat sugar inadvertantly. This happened the other day when I was eating soup and cornbread at a deli. As soon as I had a bite of cornbread, I could taste the sugar in it. I didn't beat myself up about it – I just gave the rest to my husband. And I didn't use it as an excuse of, "Oh, I messed up, I might as well…." and use this as an opportunity to binge.

    It's not about being perfect or being fixated on sugar or looking at sugar as the enemy. Just do the best that you can with the options you have available. Bring a healthy dish to a party if you know there won't be many healthy options. Or if you know the craisins in the salad have sugar in them put them aside.

    I think it's about being really comfortable honoring your needs and omitting part of the meal or asking for what you want.

    It also takes time and practice. Sweetheart, I've been working on this for many years. So start where you are. Start with one restaurant meal and go from there.

    For more help, I talk about this very issue in my ebook, Overcoming Sugar Addiction: http://www.firstourselves.com/sugar-support/sugar

  21. Sarah June 9, 2010 at 7:19 pm - Reply

    Help. I am addicted to sugar and very over weight. How do you avoid sugar when eating out? I work a lot and eat out frequently. :(

  22. Karly April 30, 2010 at 12:26 am - Reply

    Hi Suzanne,

    I am happy that my snack ideas were helpful to you. I love yogurt and nuts, too – have you tried greek style yogurt? http://www.voskos.com/

    It's low fat and high in protein. My favorites are by Fago and Voskos. Trader Joe's also has a nice one. My children love greek style yogurt, too.

    How wonderful for you that you are working on creating greater health for yourself. I celebrate with you.

    XO, Karly

  23. Karly April 30, 2010 at 12:23 am - Reply

    Almonds are wonderful! A sliced apple and almonds is my favorite snack. Tamari almonds are also a favorite snack food of mine. Thank you for sharing your thoughts and a link to your blog. XO, Karly

  24. Suzanne Franco April 29, 2010 at 1:43 pm - Reply

    Thanks for the great snack ideas (for me and for the kids). I'm still trying to lose some weight so I look for snacks that do not contain sugar but are also not super high in calories. I do love to keep nuts and fruit around and yesterday I did plain fat free yogurt w/chopped nuts and diced fruit – even my hubby loved it ;) Thanks again.

  25. Almond Diet May 13, 2009 at 2:52 pm - Reply

    i dont eat sugar too :) my favorite snank is almonds or very sliced pears.I even made a blog about my diet because of the almonds

  26. Karly June 16, 2010 at 9:38 pm - Reply

    Hi Nikki,

    Some of our fears about food are in our head. Some of them are based in our body. How do you tell the difference? You experiment. You eat a food and see how you feel – and see how you feel in your body, not in your head.

    I eat low sugar fruits – apples and berries, for example – and enjoy them. If I eat too much, I may feel a little spacey. So that’s my body telling me, “Stop. You’ve had enough.” I can listen or I can ignore what my body says and cause all sorts of suffering for myself. I can also cause suffering when my mind expands beyond, “I’ve had enough” to, “It’s not fair” and “I’m deprived” and “But I want more…” You get the picture. That is also the realm of the mind. Our mind will cause us all sorts of pain.

    The irony, of course, is that our minds can also cause us suffering on the flip side – when they tell us, “You shouldn’t eat this, or that, blah, blah, blah. You should only eat salads and chicken.” When, in fact, we can eat lots of different foods. Just maybe not 10 servings or some foods everyday.

    I let myself eat a wide variety of foods.
    I love potatoes and am fine eating them. But that’s me and my body.

    The one food I am committed to abstaining from is sugar. But there is a lot of variety within that container of “sugar free.” Some people avoid foods with even natural sugars, like potatoes, corn, fruit and starchy vegetables. Others, just added sugars.

    I am more relaxed about food in general than I was when I wrote Overcoming Sugar Addiction. I trust myself enough to listen to my body and know, okay, I’ve had enough sweet food – even naturally sweet food like fruit, for example, and move onto something else.

    So think of it as a moving pendulum more than a rule – there are some foods I have everyday, some foods I have every once and a while, and some foods I do my best to abstain from completely – sugar and my food allergies.

    I hope that helps!

    XO, Karly

  27. Karly Randolph Pitman
    Karly Randolph Pitman June 14, 2011 at 10:51 am - Reply

    Hi Susan,

    Oh, sweetheart – your feelings are normal and so common! I understand.

    I used exercise as a way to “cancel out” the effects of my bingeing for years. And yet even though I controlled my weight reasonably well (within a 10-15 pound range), I was still miserable because I was obsessed with food, either bingeing or “making up” for a binge (with exercise and/or restricting my eating the next day) and filled with disgust, shame, and guilt. It was a desire for both inner and outer healing that led me to heal my sugar addiction and do the inner work that I describe in my book and in my workbook, Becoming Binge Free. (http://www.sugar-addiction-book.com/workbook/)

    A couple of things come to mind when I read your comment:

    I can understand how hard it feels to dive into this as a busy mom – of course. And I hear that you feel overwhelmed by adding one more thing to your plate, and that the change feels scary, and that you’re scared that you won’t enjoy eating healthy food and feel deprived. It sounds like this feels like one more to do to add to the to do list of an already overwhelmed mom – financially, emotionally, and with the day to day stuff of living.

    I jest that I’m a recovering overachiever. For years I tried to will and control and push my way to healing. It failed. It didn’t work. I don’t advise it, and I wouldn’t put that on you. The path I intentionally live now is a gentle one – I’ve found greater healing in taking one baby step at a time, and watching that momentum build into long lasting change.

    What finally helped me with the cravings and hunger was a couple things:

    - on a physical level, eating regularly, especially the day after a binge. I call this grounding – giving ourselves regular, rhythmic, nourishing self care. Grounding is one of the 6 practices of growing human(kind)ness, my approach to healing food “stuff.” You can learn more here: http://www.sugar-addiction-book.com/therapy/

    - on an emotional/psychological level, turning towards my cravings (I know this sounds crazy!) and asking them, “Sweetheart, how can I care for you? What are you needing from me? How can I help you?” This is compassion, another part of growing human(kind)ness.

    I look at the urge to binge as a sign of unmet needs. It’s how we’re trying to care for ourselves. I’ve found healing when I care for the real need – such as closeness, belonging, support, joy, play, etc. – instead of using food to care for it.

    I talk about softening cravings by turning towards them here: http://www.firstourselves.org/2011/binge-prevention-tool-rocking-your-cravings-to-sleep/

    Something that also comes to mind is grief. Underneath your frustration – what you described as complaining – I hear a need for empathy. It sounds like the transition to parenting, as wonderful as it can be, has also brought sorrow. It’s a mixed bag, isn’t it? A huge part of my healing is letting myself grieve, cry, mourn and feel my sorrow over what isn’t working – what I don’t like and I can’t change. I wonder if letting yourself cry your tears over the losses that accompany motherhood would help? When I cry my tears and give myself empathy, I feel less resistant. I feel like I can move forward and make changes in my life because I’ve let that sadness inside feel heard, seen and understood – my caring for it is what softens it.

    I call this practice acceptance, another of the 6 practices of growing human(kind)ness. (Again, the workbook, Becoming Binge Free, is the best place to learn these tools.)

    I hope that helps!

    XO, Karly

  28. Karly Randolph Pitman
    Karly Randolph Pitman August 25, 2011 at 9:24 am - Reply

    Hi Courtney,

    I completely understand – I was bulimic and sugar addicted in college. I wanted to be skinny and yet I was also bingeing up to several times a day. So then I purged so I wouldn’t gain weight. Oh, it was so, so painful! So, dear one, you are not alone.

    And college is stressful! :) It’s normal to respond to stress in not-so-helpful ways. Plus, college can be a time of enormous pressure to be thin and beautiful. The stress of this can be excruciating, as it was for me.

    Fortunately, we can find kinder, healthier ways of caring for stress than sugar bingeing. We can also unplug from unrealistic expectations for our bodies. The path for both, for me, has been self compassion.

    I share how I’ve used self compassion to heal my sugar addiction and release perfectionist expectations on this blog, in my book and in my workbook. I can teach you the tools to care for yourself with self compassion instead of sugar:

    http://www.firstourselves.org/2011/walk-away-from-sugar/

    http://www.sugar-addiction-book.com/workbook/

    To get a sample, in this recent post, I share exactly how I did this when I was craving granola bars the other day: http://www.firstourselves.org/2011/walk-away-from-sugar/

    Learning to pause, stop and turn inward – to care for all the feelings, anxiety, stress and more underneath the food – is how I stopped eating sugar. It’s also how I got off the path of continual self improvement/perfectionism.

    On a ground floor level, I would suggest keeping healthy foods in your dorm or apartment. I always keep my home stocked with healthy foods, and it makes all the difference when I’m really hungry, tired and I want to reach for an easy meal. We can’t eat it if it’s not there. Likewise, keeping sugar out of your dorm room can be helpful in the same way.

    Lastly, as a mom with children of my own, I would gently suggest that sleep has everything to do with staying sugar free. Sleep or nap as much as you can when you’re a college student, as it’s so difficult to honor our intentions when we’re exhausted.

    I hope this helps!

    Sending you a big, big hug and much en-courage-ment,
    Karly

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