So many of us ‘need’ something sweet after every meal. A few years ago, my sugar cravings were very hard to resist. After each meal I would crave something sweet…just something ‘to hit the spot!’ Sound familiar? It is a habit hard to stop. And then of course I would immerse myself in terrible feelings of guilt for not having enough willpower to say NO to my cravings.
Remember… the guilty thoughts surrounding food are the worst for our health. Worse than the actual food!
For many of us, our cravings are due to habit; part of our cultural upbringing, unstable blood sugar levels, stress, emotional comfort or certain nutrient deficiencies.
Whatever the reason may be, there are simple ways to reduce these sugar cravings and perhaps beat them once and for all
- Start adding more greens to your plates. When you start eating more greens, your taste buds begins to change and the bitterness in the greens will make you much more sensitive to the sweetness of sugar in foods. This can help you to gradually decrease the sugar intake in your diet. Greens are also loaded with magnesium, the nutrient that aids in blood sugar regulation. Regulating blood sugar levels is the key to reducing sugar cravings.
- Enjoy bitter foods with and prior to your meals- such as rocket leaves, dandelion leaves, radicchio, kale, lemon, limes and apple cider vinegar. I love to squeeze lemon into my water throughout the day and I also squeeze it on my salads as well. I chew on some rocket leaves prior to my meals to fire up my digestion.
- Add more fat to your meals, particularly at lunch, in the form of avocado, nuts, organic butter, coconut, tahini and oily fish. Good fats are very satiating- meaning they keep you full for long and therefore diminish cravings.
- Flavor your food with spice. I love cinnamon- research has shown that 1 tsp. of cinnamon a day can help to regulate our blood sugar levels. I also love to add nutmeg and cardoman to my cooking to enhance flavour. I love all spices and herbs- they jazz up my meals just as much as those processed sauces.
- Avoid packaged foods- they have hidden sugars, preservatives and trans fats which will leave you cravings more sugary foods. According to Dr Libby Weaver:
“Practically, if you choose to eat processed food, a good guide is to look at the per 100 grams column of the label and ideally choose foods with a sugar content of less than 5g per 100g and less often less than 10g per 100g. Keep in mind that food with fruit in it will always have an “higher” sugar content so once you have checked the food label and seen the amount of sugar in the product, you can then check the ingredient list to determine where the sugar comes from. I encourage you to make your sauces and cereals and follow the above guide if you are purchasing your items at a supermarket.
- Add vanilla extract to your smoothies/oatmeal/yoghurt – vanilla can be useful to reduce sugar cravings.
- Careful with fruit! I often tell people to enjoy a handful of nuts or some Greek yoghurt with fruit to keep the fruit snack LOW GI- meaning slow release of energy rather than a spike in blood sugar. Fruit still contains sugar (yes, a natural sugar) but it can spike the blood sugars.
- Reduce caffeine intake – caffeine produces adrenalin in the body. Adrenalin increases the levels of sugar in your bloodstream. When there is excess sugar in your blood stream that isn’t used it gets stored as fat. Caffeine is linked to irregular blood sugar levels which may increase your cravings!
- Reduce alcohol intake- alcohol is usually high in sugar and will cause the same insulin spike as mentioned above. Enjoy some sparkling water with fresh lemon/lime/cucumber..it seems to hit that spot for some!
- Eat regularly- 5-6 small meals a day to keep your blood sugars stable.
- Talk to your health practitioner about supplementing magnesium or chromium- these 2 minerals are very useful with regulating blood sugar levels– helping to curb sugar cravings. Magnesium really has helped me with this.
- What are you really craving? Consider the emotional factor. Often our craving for sugar has more to do with something in our lives that isn’t feeling good. Sweet treats are associated with joy and so we think it is going to make us feel better where in fact it makes us feel worse. I often advise my clients to enjoy something else just as pleasurable- either a delicious and wholesome sweet treat alternative (you can find many options on my blog and a list of options below) or to do something else that is pleasurable such as: A walk, a magazine with a cuppa tea, a chat to your bestie, a lavender bath and sex.
If you are still craving something after your meals, here are some of my fav healthy options:
- 2-3 squares of 70-80% dark chocolate
- 1 cup Greek yoghurt with stevia and cinnamon (and 1 tbsp. cacao powder)
- Herbal tea with a drop of stevia and cinnamon
- Raw Chocolate Mousse
- 1-2 dates filled with almond butter
- Peppermint tea or lemon and ginger tea
- Bliss ball made with cacao, cinnamon, dates, nuts. Few recipes on my blog or here is a good one