Step away from the sugar

A chef’s re­sponse to re­al­is­ing she had a sugar ad­dic­tion? Great sat­is­fy­ing recipes

The Irish Times Magazine - - FOOD - CARMEL SOMERS

Chefs are can some­times overdo things. It’s a life­style that ex­ag­ger­ates those depen­den­cies we all have – for some it’s al­co­hol to cope with stress, caf­feine to cope with tired­ness or sugar to keep en­er­gies high.

Over the years, I slowly came to re­alise that each of th­ese was noth­ing more than a crutch that tem­po­rar­ily al­lowed me to work, but long- term they caused a level of ad­dic­tion. The end of the an­nual restau­rant sea­son meant the end of the need for such high doses to cope and I found my­self in the midst of with­drawal and ex­haus­tion so in­tense I knew it was time to ween my­self off.

Al­co­hol and caf­feine were the first to go. I won’t say it was easy but it was noth­ing com­pared with the con­stant strug­gle I had with sugar.

Sugar is our silent en­emy. It’s the most ac­cept­able sub­stance to be highly ad­dicted to, and it’s a ubiq­ui­tous ad­dic­tion. It’s in most things we reach for in times of self- pity, when we need in­stant en­ergy or for a cel­e­bra­tion. There’s an ac­cept­able in­no­cence in a Turk­ish De­light ( or three) over a glass of wine be­fore ser­vice, so that I per­sis­tently de­nied sugar de­pen­dency was a prob­lem at all.

I in­vite you all to con­sider, over the du­ra­tion of this week­end, the amount of sugar you in­gest. From the sprin­kle on your por­ridge, to the high starch foods – don’t for­get bread and pasta – that we all de­pend on for com­fort.

I can’t claim to have parted ways with sugar en­tirely, and I’m not sure I ever will. At times of bore­dom, ex­haus­tion or in­dul­gence we fre­quently reach for com­fort food or drink. In an at­tempt to rem­edy our ways we tend to go cold turkey, but this is of­ten far too chal­leng­ing and we give up and go back to our old ways.

In­stead, reach for some­thing that won’t leave you with guilt, nau­sea and a sub­tle crav­ing for even more. This week’s dishes can be made in ad­vance and are re­ward­ing in flavour but don’t re­quire any health com­pen­sa­tion – in fact, you will feel bet­ter af­ter eat­ing them. Try th­ese recipes to sat­isfy your need at those times when you’re tempted by some­thing sweet in the mid­dle of the day or at the end of a long week. The re­ward is worth it.

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