"Any idiot can handle a crisis...
it's this day-to-day living that wears you out."
— Anton Chekhov
Gail Sproule is a busy mother of three children, and an author of
fiction for both
children and adults. Her picture book, SINGING THE
DARK, can be found in
bookstores or online booksellers. Gail has been
low-carbing since June/03 and
calls this her new way of life.
Gail posts as 'Scout' on the Talking
Low Carb forums.
To view or purchase Gail's book:
If you're in the U.S.,click here. If you're in Canada,
So why the perception that LCers are obsessed with dessert? I must
admit, there is a lot of discussion of desserts and treats around the
forum. But that's simply because desserts are, to quote Lora, the
When the above question was asked on the forum I wrote two posts in
response, tossing them off as usual. Lora then asked me if those
responses could be reprinted in her LCL magazine. Er, um, hmm. Sure, I
said, trying to recall if I had actually said anything pithy, and at
the same time wondering if the woman wasn't a bit mad. Was there
actually anything of value in those posts? Craftily, I told Lora I
would first have to edit them for typos first. Therefore, while this
article does contain content from those two posts, those responses
have been edited, amalgamated, poked, prodded, stretched in some
parts, condensed in others, and a few odd bits tacked on hither and
The question, in its expanded form, asked if we LCers were fueling an
addiction by keeping 'our sweet tooth in high gear by feeding it so
many sweet substitutes', and later mentioned that people in a
'normal weight range don't eat many sweets at all'.
Before I go on, let me say up-front that this isn't an attack on the
poster whatsoever! This an exploration and discussion of why those two
phrases were hot buttons for me, and for some other low carbers as well.
Most meat and vegetable dishes translate easily
into low carb delights so we're not left with much to talk about
there. Pasta and bread products are simple, too, because either you
purchase low carb versions or you just don't eat them. Yes, a few
brave souls venture into home-baked low carb bread, and those with
incredible patience and fortitude attempt LC pasta, but the vast
majority of us leave that to experts.
Sweets, however, have the potential to become LC friendly, and most
of us figure we're capable of swapping a cup of sugar with a cup of
Splenda, so we take the plunge into LC dessert creation. However, it's
not as easy as it first might appear. It does take some thought, some
trial and error, to make Stevia and organic applesauce replace sugar,
and to learn the foibles of almond flour versus white flour. Hence,
discussion and dessert recipe trading results.
The catch phrase for low carbing is that it isn't merely a Way of
Eating, but a Way of Life. If this is more than a diet, if it
truly is a way of life, then desserts are likely going to be part of
it. Asceticism is for monks. (At the least kind who don't make sweet
liqueurs). If it's a way of life then we'll be enjoying a slice of
cheesecake with our coffee and not doing penance on water and... well,
no bread... so water and a lone celery stick.
A further reason for the popularity of dessert recipes is that there's
something really satisfying about serving a sugar-free dessert to a
bunch of non-low-carbers — without them once suspecting it's
sugar-free! Perhaps it isn't quite nice to be so devious, or to
smile smugly when seconds are requested, but we LCers put up with a
lot of nay-saying about our way of eating, and much guff about how we
can't eat like 'normal folk'. So forgive us our little sugar-free
trespasses and we'll forgive the ignorant comments about how we're so
Now, about those so called 'normal weight people' not eating many
sweets. You've probably guessed that I disagree with that notion, and
you'd be right. I grew up in a household where we never had dessert
unless it was a special occasion like Easter or Christmas, and ended
up in a weight struggle most of my life. My husband grew up with a Mom
who was a fantastic baker and they had dessert every night! (This
is, by the way, the reason why I ended up becoming a decent baker
myself; my hubby mourned the loss of dessert in the early years of our
marriage.) My husband has never had a weight problem. He's never
varied weight by more than 5 pounds since he was 18 years old! He's
been gifted with a fabulous metabolism and he can eat anything, in
virtually any quantity, and not gain weight.
Therefore, while I will certainly say that overeating and eating the
wrong kind of foods can lead to weight problems, I will not subscribe
to the idea that we're fat ONLY because of that. If it were a simple
matter of calories in, calories out, then my husband would have turned
into the Goodyear Blimp years ago and I would have achieved
model-thinness time and time again on various diets. My husband has a
far bigger sweet tooth than I've ever had, and a 'salty tooth' as
well. But he doesn't retain five pounds of water after a bag of chips
as I do!
'Normal weight people', (sorry, but this term really gets to me,
what the hell is normal anyhow?), have sweets all the time actually.
They get together for coffee and muffins. Bring desserts into the
office. Send funny messages on giant cookies. Down sugary drinks at a
baseball game. Chew gum, eat jujubes, and nosh on M&Ms. 'Normal
weight' people often consume tons of sugared stuff not considered
'dessert' all day long. Regardless of whether or not they actually
have a sweet treat in the evening formally called dessert, they are
ingesting sugar in vast quantities. If anyone is fueling a sweets
addiction, it's the 'normals'. A person who is following a low carb
plan faithfully will have broken the addiction to sugar. When an LCer
indulges in a sweet treat, it's just that: a treat. It's hardly the
constant stream of sugar which non-LCers take in all day long.
But that's the beauty of low-carb. We can eat like the 'normals'.
Our mileage may vary as to which desserts (if any) we do best with in
regards to losing weight, but this Way Of Life isn't just about losing
weight, is it? It's also about maintaining that loss for the rest of
our lives. It's about learning not only to eat healthy, but to have a
healthy relationship with food. It would be unhealthy, in my view at
least, to exclude treats entirely. Masochistic dieting probably
contributed to weight problems for many of us.
Low carbing isn't about deprivation. It isn't about punishment for
the sin of being fat. Low carbing is about treating your body kindly
by giving it clean, healthy food, and that includes the luxurious and
sensual taste experiences of desserts as well as the crisp bite of raw
veggies. Besides, desserts don't have to be particularly sweet to
taste good anyhow! Most LCers find their tastes change so that 'less
is more' on the sweetness scale. It will be the non-low-carbers who
make faces and ask, "Where's the sugar?"
I think desserts are a normal, natural thing for any weight people
and I would never sit out life's celebrations simply to maintain a
svelte figure. That's not living life to me. Thankfully, the low carb
way promises that I can eat, drink, and make merry alongside the
'normals'. Such things as dessert can and will be part of my life...
my low carb life that is!
Now, can I interest you in a slice of cheesecake? Perhaps a little
more cream for your coffee?
Copyright © July 2003 Gail Sproule