Confessions of an Ex-Sugar Addict + Healthy Nutella Recipe

Confessions of a sugar addictI used to be a sugar addict. I needed something sweet after almost every meal and often in the middle of the afternoon.When I was eating alone in the evening, I would have what I called a dessert meal: a big bowl of ice-cream, a pack of M&M’s or Nutella straight out of the jar instead of a real meal.

M&M’s were my favourites- as shown in this photomontage taken at the advertising agency I was working at back then. We had to pose with our favorite brand and sadly, this was mine!

The worst part is, I thought this was OK because I was ‘saving’ the calories from a normal dinner and replacing them with the sweet food of choice that evening.

When I discovered I had a genetic kidney disease and decided to change my diet, I went through phases where I completely banned sugar.

And I realised by doing this how addicted I was and how addictive sugar is.

But I couldn’t keep it up for more than a few weeks.

I realized that radically banning any form of sugar from my life wasn’t the answer for me.

It was about understanding and accepting my relationship to sugar in order to change it instead of trying to fight against it.

I realized how complex our relationship to sugar is because:

♥ Sugar is addictive – 8 times more addictive than cocaine according to Dr Mark Hyman…yet the sweet taste is an integral part of our diet and trying to deny this is like banging your head against a wall.

♥ Sugar cravings are often a sign that something is out of balance with what and how we are eating the rest of the day…yet they also have nothing to do with food and have a very strong emotional component as well.


Healthy Nutella

Healthy Nutella

This recipe is for anyone who loves Nutella and is looking to replace the store-bought kind with a much healthier version that uses only whole foods like hazelnuts and cacao powder and sweetened with a little maple syrup – an unrefined sweetener.

Hazelnuts are supposedly the main ingredient in the real Nutella but they actually account for only about 13% of the ingredients – the number 1 ingredient being sugar, followed by palm oil. I won’t go into how unhealthy store-bought Nutella is – suffice it to say that they have been sued for falsely advertising health claims when in fact, Nutella is more like a candy bar than a nutritious spread.

Meet Healthtella!

The main ingredient in Healthtella is hazelnuts. Hazelnuts are a good source of Vitamin E as well as iron, zinc, calcium and potassium. And because they are made up of 60 – 70% oil, when you whizz them in a food processor for just a minute or two, they quickly turn into a beautiful, creamy spread. To this, we add the cacao powder, melted cacao butter or coconut oil plus a little maple syrup – and voilà – you have Healthtella!


Heat your oven to 135 degrees Celsius.

Measure 1 cup or 200g hazelnuts and place on a tray in the oven for about 20 minutes or until they are evenly roasted.
Remove from the oven and rub the hazelnuts between your hands to remove any loose skin.

Once they are completely cool, place them in food processor and grind them until they are liquid. This should take about 1-2 minutes and you may need to stop and scrape down the sides a few times.

Once your hazelnut spread is ready, add the following:

25g melted cacao butter read more about cacao butter and where to buy it here OR melted extra virgin coconut oil

2-3 tbsp maple syrup + 3-4 tbsp water


4 tbsp coconut sugar

2-3 tbsp cacao

Mix everything until it is well combined and you have achieved the right taste and consistency. Store in the fridge but take it out a little before you eat it so it becomes less solid.

Healthy Nutella - collga

I would love to hear from you – what’s your relationship to sugar like? Are you a fan of Nutella?

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  • Jonnie on Aug 08, 2016 Reply

    Loving those cossies Shazza! Bit slow here to check things out… on Greece time you know, but always enjoy your blog.How do I nominate it for best travel blog or something? You write so be&uLifullya#8230;tove you all (even though you are NOT coming to Australia this Christmas!!!) and enjoy your Summer xxx

  • Lotte on Jan 12, 2015 Reply

    Sounds like want I have been looking for for my 14-year old daughter. She is an elite gymnast and need some pick-me-up after a long day of school and training. I’m off shopping

    • Hiba on Jan 12, 2015 Reply

      Hope she likes it Lotte!

  • Katia on Oct 20, 2014 Reply

    i was never a fun of Nutella, but now am a fan of Healthtella! :-) I will try to make it with Nutribullet.

    • Hiba on Oct 20, 2014 Reply

      That’s great Katia, let me know how it turns out :)

  • Nesrin on Sep 03, 2014 Reply

    I loved your article Hiba. I totally agree that sugar cravings mean something is out of balance. That’s a great reminder for me if I notice I am leaning too heavily in the sugar. Means I need to lighten the laid somewhere else. Thank you for this powerful insight!

    • Hiba on Sep 03, 2014 Reply

      Yes, I like how you express that!

  • mariska on Sep 02, 2014 Reply

    great post! despite the unhealthyness, very lovely picture
    of u and the m&m’s;)
    it s a joy reading ur ‘confessional’ as it is heartwarmingly honest and relatable.
    keep on posting!;)

    • Hiba on Sep 02, 2014 Reply

      Thank you Mariska! I am sure you remember those days well :)

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