The 5 Steps we Took from Craving Sugar to Loving Veggies

It’s been 6 years now since we quit eating processed sugar and other sweeteners.


What started our journey?

Quite frankly, we had lots of cavities, even though we considered our diet healthy. Cutting back on our sugar intake did not help. We continued to grow new cavities and it broke my heart to see my little 2 year old being strapped down onto a dentist chair, sedated, mouth numbed, receiving dental treatment (by force). Pictures from those days (we had to go through this with Samuel and Priscilla) are the worst memories I have. I felt like a complete loser. Should I not have provided nourishing foods for my children?

Why did I think we were eating healthy, and yet we kept on having cavities? I myself had several cavities as well.


I have always been someone interested in natural health and approaching health and healing from a holistic aspect. So, I researched the unthinkable: Healing and preventing cavities naturally. The dental treatment seemed so very invasive to me. There was no way I was going to let my children go through this again (and neither did I want another drill put into my mouth).

I found the research of Ramiel Nagel and loved the book. Nevertheless, I thought (at first) in reality it was impossible to live without eating any sugar or sweeteners ever. 

I thought I had to have my chocolate every day, my sweet coffee, a sweet fruit yogurt with cereal in the morning and the occasional cookie, cake or slice of bread with jam or honey (or Nutella, yes, I admit it…). What would we do when invited to somewhere?


It took me a while to let the idea of totally changing our eating habits sink in. It actually helped exploring Paul’s background – as he grew up in a self-sufficient setting without access to processed sugar etc. They did eat something sweet every so often (a sweet snack called Chin Chin and another one called Poff Poff), but that was the exception. They actually did not have a concept of eating regular snacks or treats. From his pocket money, he sometimes bought himself a small bowl of spiced rice.

They did however eat large and regular starch and plant based meals with the occasional meat (often just enough to flavor the food). Yam (a large starchy tuber), potatoes, plantains, cassava, beans, veggies and greens were their daily staples. A full belly does not long for sweets.


So, we decided to take Ramiel Nagel’s concept, backed by Paul’s experience living without processed foods and sugar (they did eat sugar cane, but interestingly it is a whole food and does not cause any cavities), we started on our sugar free journey.


The 5 Steps we took from craving cookies to loving veggies


This was a real journey, and a mind-blowing eye opener! It did not take us long to realize how addicted we had been. 


Step 1

We stopped consuming all processed foods and white and brown sugar. We allowed ourselves to be weaned off of sugar by replacing it with a healthier option – in this case honey. Close to where we lived we were able to buy local raw honey. To our surprise we consumed a staggering 1 gallon during our first month!


Step 2

After replacing sugar with honey, we then increased the nutrient density of our meals. The more satisfied we were from our meals, the less likely we thought of eating snacks or sweets. We made sure we ate until we were well satisfied.


Step 3

We reduced our total sweetener intake and gradually replaced all sweets for foods naturally sweetened only with fruit and some dried fruit, as well as stevia leaf drops. We started making fruit smoothies, homemade banana sweetened ice cream, naturally sweetened oat cookies, dry fruit spread, homemade date sweetened Nutella, whole food power bars and other delicious sugar free foods perfect for when we feel like eating something sweet. (All of these and other recipes are in my book “Sweet Tooth”). 


Step 4

We slowly replaced many of our sweet meals with savory ones. Yup, it does not have to be sweetness for breakfast every day. We started making baked sweet potatoes with avocado, baked potato fries with kale salad, flat bread with hummus and veggies, coleslaw wraps, burritos, veggie flatbreads and carrot apple salad, fresh veggie juices and bread with our favorite avocado pesto spread, greens and tomatoes. (All of these recipes are in my book “Fuel for Life”)


Step 5 

We fasted from sweet foods for certain periods of time. This helped us to re-adjust our taste buds and become more sensitive to sweetness. That way we enjoy naturally sweetened foods and find foods containing sugar and other sweeteners far too sweet to eat. 


All these steps take wisdom and enthusiastic parents to promote and encourage the entire family to join in. We as parents made the decision to nourish our children with the best and healthiest foods out there and express our love to them by teaching them and leading them to make healthier choices. We never forced our kids to eat what they did not want to eat, but we widened the amount of healthy choices we offered, paid attention to incorporate their tastes (for example we chose baby kale and chard instead of spring greens and romaine lettuce – because that’s the greens our kids loved most), and limited the amount of foods containing processed sweeteners (and at times any sweet foods). 


We always walked the extra mile to make our foods inviting, delicious, nicely presented and special sounding J. What kid does not love pizza (our absolute favorite pizza topping is potato carrot … yes, sounds weird, but is so delicious! We have been making this recipe now for 11 years.)?! Or chocolate ice cream for breakfast (bananas, cocoa, dates and a little avocado or coconut milk)?! Or sweet power bars for a snack (made from dates, nuts, seeds and other dried fruit)?!


Samuel vaguely remembers the change in our diet … not as a big thing however. He just remembers that I have always made lots of food homemade and that we did not eat as his friends ate (when we shared a house with our family friends and their kids).

Priscilla, Moses and Miriam have grown up knowing nothing but eating whole food plant based, processed food and sugar free. And if you watch our videos you know that they love what we eat J… especially Moses J.

I am glad we took these steps and overcame sugar addiction. It’s real! And it’s strong, but it’s possible to overcome and be happy. I never thought I could live without all the sweet stuff, but to be honest – I don’t even miss it at all! In fact, I have never eaten this many sweet fruits and healthy sweet foods and I don’t ever want to go back.

Jessica Ajayi