Processed sugar pretty much has 99% of the population in its white devil grips. Weight gain, foggy heads, Candida, depression… just a few of the by products it leaves in its trail of excess consumption. Yes it is dam hard to break the bond but it can be done will a little (or a lot!) of will power and some handy tips to cope with cravings.
Don’t skip meals. You have heard it once but I am going to tell you again. Eat three meals and two snacks or break it up to five small meals a day if that works for you. For most, not eating regularly means heir blood sugar levels drop. The result? Leaving them feeling hungry and are more likely to crave sugary snacks, aka that chocolate bar from the vending machine calling your name at 3pm.
Have a breakfast full of protein, fat and phytonutrients to start your day off right. Sure they may be on trend but breakfast smoothies are a great way to get everything in, especially if you normally can’t stomach food first thing in the morning. If you reach for ‘typical breakfast’ choices such as cereals full of carbs and sugary or starchy food like jam on white bread it will only give you cravings all day. Don’t be scared of eating proteins in the morning either like fish, lamb steaks with a little nuts or avo and greens – trust me your body will thank you for it and a good breakfast is 100% essential to prevent sugar cravings further in the day.
Add spices. Try the likes of coriander, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves and cardamom to naturally sweeten your foods and reduce cravings.
Take a good quality multivitamin and mineral supplement, Vitamin D3 and omega 3 fatty acids. Nutrient deficiencies can make cravings worse and the fewer nutrient deficiencies, the fewer cravings. Certain nutrients seem to improve blood sugar control including chromium, Vitamin B3 and magnesium. It’s always a good idea to see a Herbalist or Naturopath before buying out the health food shop though!
Move your body. Exercise, dance , do some yoga – just get the blood pumping and work up a sweat to help boost energy, reduce stress and decrease your need for a sugar lift.
Sleep, and then some. It’s no surprise that when we are tired we often use sugar of some form for energy to counteract the exhaustion. So go to bed a little bit earlier tonight and see how you fee.
Do a detox. A little spring cleanse of the diet will not only help reset your appetites but it often decreases sugar cravings in the process. After the initial sugar cravings (yes it can be overwhelming initially), our bodies adjust (as do our tastebuds) and over time, the want for sugar will decrease. There are a bunch of great online programs you can do like IQS by Sarah Wilson or even Fitness In The City’s own Nourish & Move challenge which runs towards the end of the year (yes shameless plug but join our newsletter so you know when it is running next!).
BUT if sugar (and food or fitness in general) is a real issue and you want a real helping hand (or a holiday) then there are also amazing retreats around the world where you can stay and you have round the clock care with amazing experts in their field. A little closer to our Australian soils is the likes of Chi Of Life retreat www.chiofliferetreat.com.au which is located on the Sunshine Coast, QLD. This hidden gem combines exercise, herbal medicine, detox food and therapy to help you reach your goals, I really like this combo as you cant just isolate one without addressing the other.
Investigate the emotional issues around sugar addiction. Think about what emotional need isn’t being met. A lot of the time the craving can be just that and we use it as a clutch.
Banish sugary treats from of your house and office. Ben & Jerry’s is hard enough to say no to at the best of times, so do yourself a favour and just not have it in sight. It’s difficult to snack on things that aren’t there!
Learn to read labels. I always encourage everyone to eat foods as close to their natural state as possible and with limited human interference. You don’t need to read what is in an apple for a good reason! If it comes in a shiny packet… well this is called a product with major human interference. So less labels the better and for the ones that do, educate yourself about what you’re putting into your body. The longer the list of ingredients, the more likely sugar is going to be included on that list. So check the grams of sugar, and choose products with the least sugar per serving. Remember, the closer a food is to its original form, the less processed sugar it will contain. Food in its natural form, including fruits and vegetables, usually presents no metabolic problems for a normal body, especially when consumed in variety.
Sugar in disguise. Remember that most of the “complex” carbohydrates we consume like bread, bagels and pasta aren’t really complex at all. They are usually highly refined and act just like sugars in the body and are to be avoided.
Still got sugar cravings?
- Take L-Glutamine, 1000-2000mg. It often relieves sugar cravings as the brain uses it for fuel.
- Take a “breathing break”. Find a quiet spot, get comfortable and sit for a few minutes and focus on your breath. After a few minutes of this, the craving will pass.
- Distract yourself. Go for a walk, if possible, in nature. Cravings usually last for 10-20 minutes maximum. If you can distract yourself with something else, it often passes. The more you do this, the easier it gets and the cravings get easier to deal with.
- Drink lots of water. Sometimes drinking water or seltzer water can help with the sugar cravings. Also sometimes what we perceive as a food craving is really thirst.
- Have a piece of fruit. If you give in to your cravings, have a piece of fruit, it should satisfy a sweet craving and is much healthier.
If you follow these guidelines, perhaps you’ll be able to have an occasional “treat.” Be realistic with yourself and remember that a slip is not a failure. Don’t get down on yourself if you slip, just dust yourself off and get back in the saddle. However, if even just a little causes you to lose control, then it’s best to stay away from it completely. And my ultimate tip for sugar-free bliss is to remind ourselves to find and pursue “sweet satisfaction” in nourishing experiences other than food.