Banish your sweet tooth with these six simple steps…
Sugar makes our food tastier and gives us a quick boost of energy – at least temporarily. But it’s also highly addictive and, when consumed frequently, can cause energy dips, a ‘sluggish’ feeling and poor skin – not to mention obesity, diabetes and premature ageing. If you can’t imagine your tea without a biscuit, read on…
1 Reduce stress
Stress is one of the primary triggers for sugar cravings, as our body is being prepared for physical action (the ‘fight or flight’ response). So try in any way you can to reduce stress, whether it is by delegating or reducing your workload, taking some gentle exercise, or meditating to help you relax. Reduced stress will often mean better sleep too, which leads to higher energy levels the next day.
2 Limit alcohol
Alcohol raises blood sugar and, being a liquid, is even more quickly absorbed into the bloodstream than sugar. Alcohol also contains more calories than sugar: seven calories per gram versus four calories per gram! Alcohol binges are a classic way to set up a cycle of cravings for sugary, stodgy foods the day after, so give yourself a couple of days off after a few drinks.
3 Look after your gut
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. To help solve this, try taking a high-strength, good quality probiotic supplement.
4 Go easy on tea and coffee
Caffeine is a stimulant that causes our body’s stress hormones such as cortisol and adrenaline to be released, which in turn trigger a cycle of energy dips and peaks, and make you more likely to crave sugar later on. Decaffeinated coffee and tea contains other stimulants, so try naturally caffeine-free rooibos tea or grain-based coffee alternatives.
5 Consider natural sugar alternatives
Xylitol is a naturally sweet substance found in many plants. It is packaged in granules and looks and tastes like sugar, although slightly less sweet. 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.
6 Treat yourself
Reducing your sugar intake doesn’t mean you have to eat like a rabbit. When you fancy a treat, choose three squares of good-quality dark chocolate (minimum 70 per cent cocoa). This amount contains a relatively small amount of sugar, and will stop cupcake cravings in their tracks.
Information courtesy of nutritional therapist, Cassandra Barns, at nutricentre.com