No matter how health conscious you are, you’re bound to crave sweet things from time to time. And it’s no surprise, as sugar is in so much of the food we eat. And I don’t just mean the obvious things, like cakes, chocolate and fizzy drinks. It’s in everything, from bread and yoghurt, to pasta sauces and dried fruit.
The effects of refined sugar on the body are similar to those of Class A drugs. It prompts the body to release serotonin (the happy hormone) into the blood stream. The instant boost we get from this is the reason we keep going back for more. However, the sugar rush triggers an increase in insulin as the body tries to bring blood glucose levels back to normal. This has a knock-on effect, causing a ‘sugar crash’ that makes you crave it even more. It’s a vicious cycle: The more sugar we eat, the more we want.
While sugar addiction may be nowhere near as destructive as alcohol or drug addiction, it can still have an impact on our health. Frequent consumption of not just sweets, but any food high in carbohydrates increases the risk of serious health conditions, like heart disease, diabetes and cancer.
So, how can you kick your sweet habit for good? Here are some top tips to get you started:
Before you throw out everything in your kitchen, take a moment to understand the difference between added sugar and naturally-occurring sugar. Fruits, veggies and plain dairy products have naturally occurring sugar that shouldn’t overly concern you. Because fruits and veggies contain other nutrients like fibre and healthy fats, the liver doesn’t process the sugar in the same way it does a Twix bar.
As a guide, anything that ends in ‘ose’, such as glucose or fructose is a sugar. If several forms of sugars appear on the label, think twice about making it a regular addition to your diet; it’s far less healthy than you think.
Have a savoury breakfast
Having a sweet breakfast will set you up for all day long sugar cravings. Yes, that means saying sayonara to your sugar-sweetened coffee and sugary cereal. Sorry! Though that may sound plain awful, it doesn’t have to be. Sprinkle cinnamon into your coffee or sweeten a low-sugar cereal with slices of fruit. Better yet, opt for a savoury morning meal: Whip up some scrambled egg on wholemeal toast, or top your oats with ground pepper, cheddar, scallions and a fried egg instead of fruit and honey. These filling protein-rich meals will help you stay on the road toward low-sugar success.
Stabilise blood sugar levels with chromium
The mineral chromium helps to stabilise blood sugar levels and control sugar cravings. If you find yourself experiencing regular, intense cravings for sweet treats, it could be a sign that you have low levels of chromium in your diet. To address this, increase your intake of foods rich in chromium, such as apples, broccoli, mushrooms, asparagus, whole grains and grape juice.
Shop on a full stomach
It’s true what they say: Out of house, out of mouth. Seems simple enough, until you’re in the cake aisle at the supermarket. To ensure you’ll have the restraint to keep sweet, sinful treats out of your shopping trolley, have a small snack before you leave the house. Experts say that when we’re hungry, we’re far more likely to lose sight of our dietary goals and load up on unhealthy, sugar-laden treats.
No easy fix
Cutting out refined sugar is no easy feat, but it’ll do wonders for your health in the long-run. You’ll lose weight, have more energy, clearer skin, and you’ll reduce the risk of developing serious long-term health problems.
For further advice, plus a recommended exercise programme that will complement everything else you’re doing, contact Rima on 0794 782 2911 / 0208 579 7879.