24 Jun How To Stop Sugar Cravings
Sugar cravings can hit anytime – that unstoppable urge to reach for something sweet, high calorie, junk food. You may curse yourself for your ‘lack of willpower’ but here’s the thing: We are actually genetically programmed to like sugar from the time of our hunter-gatherer ancestors, where calories = survival.
Add to this the fact that today’s highly processed junk foods are full of a substance that has been scientifically demonstrated to be more addictive than heroin or cocaine: SUGAR.
Eating high calorie, junk food regularly triggers a cascade of physiological changes in the brain and the body that over time will lead to ill health and disease – insulin resistance, PCOS, type 2 diabetes, toxic belly fat, reduced fertility, inflammation, raised blood pressure, increased risk of heart disease, cancer, dementia, other psychological disorders such as depression and a host of other health conditions.
Like any addiction, it can be hard to break the habit but it’s completely within our power and the benefits to our health are immediate (more energy throughout the day, trimmer waist, better concentration, fewer mood swings, better skin, more pleasure from food, less stress) and long term – reduced risk of serious ill health both physical and psychological.
Here are some tips to help you wean off sugar and stop cravings: Give your body what it needs to function optimally and remove empty calories that just deplete it of essential nutrients. The key is to follow a diet that balances blood sugar and prevents excess sugar spikes and here’s how:
- Choose slow releasing over fast releasing carbohydrates. Slow releasing carbs, which include whole grains, brown rice, oats, quinoa break down into glucose at a slower rate which helps to maintain stable blood sugar and energy levels. Start off by having half white rice/pasta/bread, half whole grain variety and gradually switch to completely wholegrain (your family might not even notice!)
- Start your day with a healthy, decent sized, protein rich breakfast – eggs, shakes, porridge with seeds, nuts, nut butter, yoghurts. Your metabolic power is high first thing in the morning and programmed to convert the calories to energy, fueling you up for the day.
- Eat 3 balanced meals a day and 2 healthy snacks. At every meal ensure you have some slow releasing carbs, some healthy protein, fibre and healthy fats (fats are essential to overall health and key to keep us satiated and our blood sugar levels stable) like avocado, olive oil, oily fish. Healthy snacks follow this rule too – think handful raw nuts plus whole fruit, oatcakes +nut butter, vegetable sticks + hummus, full-fat plain yoghurt + berries.
- Sweeten your food with cinnamon. Cinnamon (Ceylon is best) has been proven to stabilise blood sugar levels and control sugar cravings. Add at least ½ teaspoon to meals – porridge, yoghurt with berries.
- Use Coconut oil to help with sugar cravings (choose raw, cold pressed organic). While high in saturated fat, it’s also high in medium chain fats which are converted quickly to energy in your liver and its sweet taste can effectively curb sugar cravings. Add to a snack of plain yoghurt with berries, porridge, hot drinks, smoothies, soups.
- Remember – the odd treat is absolutely fine, it’s regular, daily consumption that’s the problem.
Sharon O’Dwyer, Nutritional Therapist in Carrigaline offers support to clients who want to improve their health through diet and lifestyle. She offers personalised plans that can help resolve and eliminate symptoms relating to digestive dysfunction including irritable bowel syndrome, constipation, diarrhoea, excessive gas, as well as conditions relating to hormonal imbalance, low energy, low immunity, poor bone health, high blood pressure, food sensitivities, stress and other conditions.