Who doesn’t love Christmas? Parties, dinners, drinks – all in the name of festive fun. Even though you’ve eaten mountains of chocolates and puddings, it still feels like you could have one more with your tea…. Well, there is a reason for that…Sugar! The sweet stuff not only makes you feel better and gives you a quick boost of energy, but it is also very addictive!
Sugar addiction is one of the worst enemies – according to research it is four times more addictive than cocaine! And it is also very harmful. Symptoms of sugar overload can result in energy dips, poor skin, obesity, diabetes, premature aging and many other chronic health conditions. Fat was traditionally blamed for many of these problems, but sugar is now shown to be far more harmful than fat. For this reason, and simply to feel or look healthier, many of us are taking the positive decision to cut out or drastically reduce the amount of sugar in our diets. But overcoming this addiction is next to impossible with willpower alone.
We’ve enlisted the help of Cassandra Barns, Nutritionist at NutriCentre to give us her ultimate Sweet Tooth Free Guide:
Aim for foods that have a low glycaemic load, as their impact on blood sugar level is minimal and you’ll be less likely to experience blood glucose highs and lows that will have you reaching for treats. Make sure each meal includes protein, non-starchy vegetables and unrefined carbohydrates. Limit sweet tasting veg and opt for green veg like broccoli and spinach, ideally making up half your plate. Good protein (eggs, beans) are digested slowly and make you feel fuller for longer.
I must not skip breakfast
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. Try two poached eggs on a slice of wholemeal bread with some rocket leaves or a pot of sugar-free yoghurt with nuts and berries.
Quit sugar, not snacks
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. Two oatcakes topped with a tablespoon of humus or guacamole will help you to avoid irrational eating behaviour. Avoid bananas and opt for berries as they are naturally low in sugar.
Look after your gut
Overgrowth of unhelpful yeasts in the gut, such as candida, can intensify sugar cravings. Ironically, eating sugar makes the candida overgrowth worse, so we become stuck in the vicious circle. To help solve this, try taking a high-strength, good quality probiotic supplement such as ProVen’s ‘Adult Probiotic 25 Billion’ £12.95 loaded with friendly bacteria.
Go easy on the 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 cause 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 better options such as naturally caffeine free rooibos tea or grain based coffee alternatives.
Give in a little. Three squares of good quality dark chocolate (minimum 70% cocoa) will only contain a relatively small amount of sugar, and there is also evidence that dark chocolate has health benefits. Eat a bit of what you’re craving and try to stick to a 150-calorie threshold.
Top 3 sweet tooth busting supplements:
Vegan omega oils are essential for heart, joints and brain but they will keep you fuller for longer as they enhance insulin sensitivity.
CoEnzyme Q10 is needed for energy production. Due to our lifestyle we may become deficient and find ourselves more tired. CoQ10 enhances the metabolism, giving us greater energy and endurance, a greater ability to lose body fat, preventing the energy decline seen in aging cells. CoQ10 also maximizes the burning of foods for fuel, helping to normalize fats in our blood. Try ‘Ubiquinol Qu10’ by Quest Vitamins
Chromium, this trace mineral has a vital role in supporting normal blood glucose levels, and therefore helping to prevent the dips that cause us to crave sugary foods. Try Quest Vitamin’s ‘Chromium Picolinate’ £4.04. Take one tablet a day, preferably with breakfast. This supplement also contains vitamin B3, which works closely together with chromium. Chromium can take a month or longer to have its full effect, so persevere or start taking chromium before attempting to give up sugar.