If you’re constantly munching on sugary snacks and the thought of ditching a chocolate bar for lunch feels like injustice, sorry to break it to you, but you are a sugar addict honey. A diet high in sugar can impact both your physical and mental health so the sooner you ditch it, the better.
Sugar can cause a whole host of health problems ranging from weight gain, arthritis, heart disease, diabetes, osteoporosis and Alzheimer’s, to the development of cancer, depression and a generally weak immune system. Eek!
The sugar shock? Brits are indulging in way more sugar than the recommended daily amount - on average we consume around 60 grams of sugar a day (around 22 teaspoonfuls a day), whereas 13 teaspoonfuls a day is the average recommended amount.
Sugar is a toxic pleasure. If you constantly find yourself drooling over brownies it’s time to take charge of your diet and start making the right lifestyle choices. So with our health (and waistlines) in mind, we enlisted the help of NutriCentre’s Nutritional Therapist, Cassandra Barns for a straightforward approach to help cut down the sugar moments.
Here are 10 easy ways to break your sugar addiction without feeling deprived.
1. Eat breakfast
It's not a myth when they say breakfast is the most important meal of the day. Cassandra says, ‘’If we don’t have breakfast, often by 11 am or midday, we become hungry and crave sugar, as our blood sugar levels drop too low."
For a full-hearty breakfast try two poached eggs on a slice of wholemeal bread with rocket. With sugar in mind, grab a pot of sugar-free yogurt with nuts and berries. It sounds easy already right?
2. Choose wisely
Choosing what you eat has a huge impact on what you could be putting in your mouth come lunch-time. If you want to avoid nibbling on junk food make sure you reprogramme those taste buds.
“Aim for foods that have a low glycaemic load, as their impact on blood sugar levels is minimal and you’ll be less likely to experience blood glucose highs and lows that will have you reaching for that pesky cookie jar.
"Make sure each meal includes protein, non-starchy vegetables and unrefined carbohydrates. Opt for green veg like broccoli and spinach, ideally making up half your plate. Good protein (lean turkey, eggs, fish, beans) are digested slowly and make you feel fuller for longer."
To help control those pesky cravings try Quest's Chromium Picolinate, a supplement that helps support normal blood glucose levels and therefore preventing those midday slumps!
3. Look after your gut
A lack of good bacteria in your food means you could be missing out on vital organisms of a healthy gut. So give your gut a helping hand and eat more probiotics.
‘’Overgrowth of unhelpful yeasts in the gut, such as candida, can contribute to, or exacerbate sugar cravings. Ironically, eating sugar and high-starch foods makes the candida overgrowth worse, so we become stuck in a catch-22 situation," says Cassandra.
If you're not into dairy try a high-strength, good quality probiotic supplement from ProVen which is loaded with friendly bacteria.
4. Go easy on caffeine
We would have never blamed coffee for being responsible for our eating habits, but it's a sad truth ladies, that early morning latte could be causing those uncontrollable sugar cravings.
"Caffeine is a stimulant that causes our body’s stress hormones such as cortisol and adrenaline to be released, which in turn cause a cycle of energy dips and peaks, and makes you more likely to crave sugar later on."
And if you thought decaffeinated coffee will do the job, think again. "Decaffeinated drinks often contain other stimulants.Try better options such as naturally caffeine free rooibos tea or grain based coffee alternatives".
We always knew Green tea was our best friend anyway...
5. Eat snacks
Just because you want to curb your sugar cravings doesn't mean you have to starve!
‘’A healthy snack between meals can help while you’re giving up sugar, as it stops your sugar levels dropping too low, which can cause sweet cravings.”
Not sure where to start? Try two oatcakes topped with a tablespoon of hummus or cottage cheese and half an avocado. Yum.
6. Treat yourself
With chocolate! Three squares of quality chocolate (minimum 70%) is the perfect afternoon pick-me-up.
"Dark chocolate contains only a small amount of sugar, and there is also evidence that dark chocolate has health benefits too."
If you're not a lover of rich treats try a small pot of sugar-free plain yoghurt, with a teaspoon of pure cocoa or raw cacao powder.
7. Natural sugar alternatives
Xylitol is buzzing in health markets right now. Not only is it a naturally derived sweetner, but (ironically) it claims to have antibacterial properties to help fight tooth decay and gum disease too.
"Xylitol is a naturally sweet substance found in many plants. In commercial preparations, it is found in granules and looks and tastes like sugar, although slightly less sweet.
For a sweeter alternative try Stevia, a plant that's been used as a sweetner in South America for many years."Stevia is a substance extracted from the leaf of the stevia plant. It is an intensely sweet substance and very little is needed to give a sweet taste – it has very few calories and minimal impact on blood glucose."
8. Reduce stress
With stress comes a longing for sugar. As soon as we're feeling panicked we're reaching for that sweet treat to make us feel better.
‘’Stress is one of the primary triggers for sugar cravings, as our body is being prepared for physical action.
Tired of pulling your hair out? "Try delegating or reducing your workload, taking some gentle exercise, or practicing yoga or meditation to help you relax."
Exercise is a great stress buster. If you work an exercise routine into your schedule not only will be avoiding those bang-head-on-the-wall moments, you'll be trimming inches off your waistline too. A win-win for us.
Cassandra says, "Moderate exercise helps us to feel energised, less sluggish, and healthier. It can help to control stress levels and also support blood sugar control to avoid dips that will induce cravings.’’
10. Limit your alcohol
If you joined the Dry January campaign this month this should come as a breeze. If not, then here's a little unknown fact you might want to know...
‘’Alcohol contains more calories than sugar with 7 calories per gram versus 4 calories per gram! Alcohol raises blood sugar, but being a liquid, it is even more quickly absorbed into the bloodstream than sugar.
"Binges are a classic way to set up a cycle of cravings for sugary, stodgy foods the day after. Stick to one small to medium glass of wine with a meal once or twice a week.’’
Practice a healthy relationship with alcohol and enjoy the best of both worlds.
Got any more tips for sweet tooths? Tweet us @sofeminineUK