Cutting out sugar is no easy task. Yes, sugar is bad, nay, terrible for us- we get it. Yet, hunger pangs, the onset of stress or a bad night’s sleep can have even the best of us digging to the back of the cupboard in search of a sweet fix. Enough is enough. If deciphering every nutrition label isn’t challenging enough, battling against cravings with the consolation that ‘going cold turkey is the only way to break the cycle’ is, for many of us, far too great an ask. We wind up, spoon in Nutella jar, feeling like a failure. If your relationship with this modern day drug is somewhat similar, it’s time to form an action plan and put an end to all this negativity. Having a few tricks up your sleeve, a so called battle plan, will keep you on the straight and narrow in times of temptation. So, stop staring at the biscuit tin, act! It’s when your mind and body are working in unison, rather than fighting against each other, that amazing things happen. Let us tell you how you can finally conquer your addiction to the sweet stuff.
Knowledge is power. Did you know that a slice of fresh lemon in hot water has been known to decrease blood sugar levels by up to 10%? What’s more, cinnamon is great for stabilising insulin levels; incorporate it in some way or other into your breakfast to prepare your body for the day ahead. Always pair fruit with a form of protein to minimise that nasty spike, shortly followed by a dramatic drop, in blood sugar levels. Top tip: adding tofu to smoothies is a great way to achieve this. Similarly, a spoonful of unsweetened peanut butter or a handful of nuts and seeds will also do the trick!
It goes without saying that we’re most susceptible to cravings when hunger strikes. Prepare healthy snacks the night before and the likelihood of you nipping into the supermarket and succumbing to those cravings is significantly reduced. Top tip: chai seeds boast a slow carbohydrate to blood sugar conversion rate so they’re a fantastic way to stay fuller for longer. Sweet or savoury; use them wherever you can.
Learn to love nutrition labels as they will tell you everything you need to know. As a simple guide, anything containing more than 22.5g of total sugars per 100g is high in sugar and should be approached with caution. Do not, and I repeat, do not fall into the ‘low fat’ trap as these products are often loaded with sugar in some form. Top tip: keeping a diary of your dietary intake, noting the times of day when cravings strike, will bring to light just how much sugar you’re consuming. The results may be alarming! Your morning coffee and your breakfast cereal can both be crammed with sugar that consequently leaves you longing for the rest of the day.
We all have a tendency to snack on the bad stuff when we’re bored. If you’re about to indulge, stop, drink a large glass of water and say to yourself “If I’m still hungry in 20 minutes, I will eat” and then find something… anything, to do. Some advocate using scented oils such as grapefruit, lemon or peppermint oil to distract the senses, others prefer chewing gum or talking a brisk walk. It’s a simple yet surprisingly effective solution to retraining your brain to form new, healthy habits.
Continuing along the theme of mind over matter, the website Pinterest is full of motivational quotes and positive mantras that can steer you back onto the right path in times of need. It’s nice to know that there are millions of like minded individuals out there who value their health as much as you do. “Create healthy habits, not restrictions” see, that helps, doesn’t it?
Cheat – a bit.
Almost every health bunny out there advocates an 80/20 balance. That is, be good 80% of the time and allow yourself the occasional treat. Most importantly, opt for something satisfying and nutritious such as Baobab Bars or Mini Raw Carrot Cakes and there’s no need to feel even the least bit guilty! Last but not least, enjoy your food. Make the right decisions and your body will thank you for it.
words by Alexandra Salisbury