Since being back these past two days and helping my clients in clinic, sugar has been a topic of much debate so I thought I would give you some helpful pointers as when the cool weather comes in, sugar cravings tend to go up, so let me arm you with some helpful suggestions.
A lot of people make great food choices for breakfast and lunch and then in the afternoon or after dinner, it’s as if someone else has taken over their body. Sugar cravings kick in and the temptation to eat whatever sweet food is in sight surpasses any willpower one might have. If you recognise these feelings and these habits, then this post is for you!
We know that sweet food doesn’t serve our health, in fact often it contains substances that actually take away from our health, yet without a plan of action, we go round in circles, knowing sugar isn’t good for us, but not knowing how to get out of the sugar trap.
There are a number of ways you can reduce cravings for sugar, both dietary tweaks and lifestyle switches but in this post, we’ll focus on the dietary changes.
Here are 9 foods that help manage sugar cravings to help reduce the amount of refined sugar in your world and nourish the body out of cravings.
#1. LEAFY GREEN VEGETABLES
A regular intake of ‘bitter’ greens can help curb sugar cravings and reset your taste buds so for those with a sweet tooth, increase your greens and notice your sweet cravings begin to decrease. The cells that make up our taste buds on your tongue are renewed approximately every 2 weeks so if you up the greens in your life, it can help with re-adjusting your taste buds so they preferentially prefer more bitter foods. Typically we eat sugar when we’re feeling stressed and depressed, if this is you, try adding more leafy greens like kale, spinach and mustard greens to your meals everyday. I like to add them to my morning smoothie as it’s such a delicious way to creep them in first thing.
Sugar is fuel for the bad bacteria in your gut so the more sugar you eat, the more fuel you provide the bad bacteria to thrive and multiply which leads to further cravings since they constantly demand sugar to survive. On the flip side, fermented vegetables, like sauerkraut and kimchi, help the gut microbiome because they introduce more good bacteria into your gut to help crowd out the bad bacteria. Sauerkraut and kimchi are available in health food stores, or better still you can make your own.
#3. COCONUT OIL
A lack of fats in the diet can cause sugar cravings to go up, I see this a lot with my clients who believe that fats lead to weight gain. The right kind of fats, in the right quantities are absolutely essential to everything in our body, including metabolism, so they shouldn’t be feared like they often are. Once we up the fats and reduce processed sugars, after a few days the cravings settle. Out of all the fats, coconut oil is one of my favourites as it has naturally got a slight sweet taste and it is composed predominantly of medium-chain triglycerides (MCT’s) which is a fat that’s preferentially used by the brain and used as fuel rather than stored as fat in the body. Coconut oil slows the release of glucose into the blood meaning you stay fuller for longer and it also contains lauric acid, caprylic acid and capric acid, which have antifungal, antibacterial, antiviral properties to support the immune system and healthy gut bacteria.
#4. HERBAL TEA
This is such a winning tip. You can get some delicious flavoured herbal teas, one of my favourite brands if Pukka or Yogi. My favourites are ginger, peppermint, cinnamon and vanilla chai. Keep a couple of sachets in your handbag and a box in your work drawer so if you are experiencing an energy low or sugar dip, you’ve got something comforting to pick you right up. My ultimate favourite tea is liquorice, especially when it’s coupled with peppermint as it’s naturally sweet. Having one of these teas after dinner is a great idea also if you tend to get cravings around this time. Listen to your body and have a back up plan to fall back onto.
#5. DARK CHOCOLATE
70 per cent cacao content and upwards chocolate means you’re getting a lof of goodness and antioxidants, without the added sugar and processing that goes on in a lot of chocolate bars on the market! The more bitter varieties of dark chocolate mean you just need one or two squares and you’ll feel satisfied, a little goes a long way.
Frozen bananas in smoothies is one of my favourite ways to begin my days because it turns the smoothie into a milkshake-like creation which is packed full of goodness. Add half a frozen banana with a handful of frozen berries to reduce the fructose hit as bananas are higher on the fructose front, especially ripe bananas and throw in some spinach in there to get in some greens. You can also make icecream using bananas which is known as ‘nice cream’ by blending frozen berries and frozen bananas in a food processor.
#7. SWEET POTATO
Sweet potatoes are naturally sweet but you also benefit from the fibre and key nutrients in there. Dice up sweet potato into 2cm cubes, roast them in the oven with a small amount of coconut or olive oil plus a pinch of cinnamon to enhance its natural sweetness and enjoy it with a piece of fish or chicken or within a quinoa salad. You’ll get the natural sweetness, but without the sugar slump afterwards.
These are one of my favourite fruits. They are packed full of good for you fats and they’re so versatile. Add them to a smoothie for a creamy consistency and you’ll find the fats in them will keep you full for much longer than if your smoothie had just fruits and veggies in. I also like to add avocado into my desserts, like this chocolate mousse – you would never knw avocado was an ingredient in there but your body will know it’s in there. As an afternoon snack, half an avocado with a squeeze of lemon juice, olive oil and a pinch of salt is just the best, enjoy it straight out of the skin with a spoon.
Dates can be a quick snack, the sweet gooey richness of the date coupled with a handful of almonds or walnts for a crunching contrast is perfect for a quick pick-me-up without any refined sugar going on. You can blend dates to make a date paste and it works amazingly in sweet desserts, in place of sugar.
Hope these help you!
I’m working on releasing my online nutrition programmes at the moment, and just getting all the behind the scenes sorted and the last of my videos filmed. Will let you know AS SOON as it’s up and running so you too can get your learn on from the comfort of your own own and get to work on making positive additions to your mindset, your nutrition and your health this side of the year, so you arrive into 2017 in healthy style!