19/11/2013 07:49 GMT | Updated 25/01/2014 16:01 GMT

When Did We Choose Sugar Over Joy?

Remember doing cartwheels when you were little?

I remember being about five years old and my best friend and I would do cartwheels in our back garden in the sunshine. We would do as many as we could without falling over in a dizzy heap. After about ten or so, we would be lying on our back, giggling and puffing, our heads spinning. After a few minutes, it would subside and we would lie there, feeling our bodies, looking up into the deep blue sky. It was so much fun! Just the simple memory of lying there with Juliet brings a big smile to my face. We all know that feeling right?

About the same age, I discovered sugar. My mother was pretty strict with sugar, there wasn't any in the house when I was growing up - sugar was an apple or a carrot! But after another child's birthday party, I was wired and bouncing off the walls with the onslaught of sugary sweets and cake. I feel for my mother seeing a manic child running around the house! It took hours and sometimes a day to recover from a sugar hangover. I could feel the spinning in my body continuing long after the candy had gone. Amazing huh?

We can get such simple joy from fun things with a dear friend - when did we choose sugar over joy?

My weekly shop can be a head spinning experience. There are so many new products out to lure me with "high fibre" and "low fat" and "no added sugar". Aisles and aisles of cereals and snacks and chocolates and flavoured crisps ... we are bombarded with self-proclaimed "healthy" options that are loaded with sugar and make us feel those dizzy moments of wonderfulness that keep us coming back for more, and more.

One of the regular cashiers at my little local supermarket once noticed that I didn't buy chocolate. I was surprised that it was noticed - until she mentioned that chocolate was their biggest selling item. That blew me away. If chocolate is the most purchased item in the supermarket, what does that say about the level of true joy we have in our lives?

According to Livestrong,"Chocolate contains phenylamine, associated with raising mood and libido." Could it be that we are inducing a false love because we don't want to feel our loneliness? I know this was how it was for me.

So it makes sense that researchers at the University of California School of Medicine in San Diego have looked into the impact of chocolate consumption and depression. The study found that people who were more affected by depression tended to consume more chocolate. I know for myself that when I "came down" from the chocolate high, I just felt lonelier and wanted more - a vicious cycle.

Something to ponder I guess. I know I definitely used chocolate and sugar as a replacement for joy. The cartwheels inside me are more from my heart now and not an action on the outside. It was a steady journey away from sugar and chocolate, but I know for sure that the false-high and big come down are no longer part of my life. And that simply leaves me - in all my imperfect, glorious deliciousness.

Here's a sweet little dessert that will warm your cockles with joy!

Put some frozen cherries (or berries) into a small saucepan and simmer gently on the stovetop.

While that is bubbling away, put into a blender:

1 cup of macadamia nuts (or almonds)

1 sliced, peeled, cored apple

1 teaspoon of vanilla powder or essence

½ cup of coconut milk

½ cup of water

Blend till a thick, smooth paste

(If the cream is too runny, add more nuts - too thin, add more water/coconut milk)

Serve the cherries or berries in a small bowl with a dollop or two of the nut cream on top and sprinkle with chopped toasted almonds and some finely sliced fresh mint.