Sugar addiction is one of the worst enemies – according to the latest research it is 4 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 asked Nutritionists to put together their 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 (lean turkey, eggs, fish, beans) are digested slowly and make you feel fuller for longer.’ says Shona Wilkinson, Head Nutritionist at www.nutricentre.com.
I must not skip breakfast
According to Dr Marilyn Glenville, the UK’s leading Nutritionist (www.marilynglenville.com) and author of Fat Around The Middle ‘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. ‘Fruit contain a lot of sugar so avoid bananas (1 banana has 12 grams of sugar– that’s 3 teaspoons!) and opt for berries as they are naturally low in sugar.’ adds Glenville
Look after your gut
Cassandra Barns, Nutritionist explains ‘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 thevicious circle. To help solve this, try taking a high-strength, good quality probiotic supplement such as Pro-Ven 25 Billion (Boots, £13.95) 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.’ says Glenville
Say no to alternatives
When trying to give up or significantly reduce your sugar intake, it is actually not advisable to directly substitute all your sugar with sugar replacements, even if they are natural and safe. Barns explains ‘This is because we want to get away from reliance on the sweet taste of sugar and learn to appreciate other tastes – a strategy that is more likely to give you success at cutting down in the long term, and will reduce the likelihood that you will fall back on sugar and sugary foods later, or when the substitutes are not available. However, finding a natural sugar alternative can be useful for treats, and especially when you are first trying to give up.’
There is one mineral…
’Chromium 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 from www.revital.co.uk.) Take one tablet a day, preferably with breakfast. This supplement also contains vitamin B3, which works closely together with chromium. It can take a month or longer to have its full effect, so persevere or start taking chromium before attempting to give up sugar.’ Cassandra suggests
Protein can help to fill you up and keep you fuller for longer, hence it will stop you from craving sugary treats. ‘Protein-rich foods are broken down more slowly and therefore stay in the stomach longer, making us feel fuller. Ensuring we have a serving of protein-rich food (meat, fish, eggs, beans and lentils, nuts and seeds) with every meal can therefore be helpful for controlling appetite and for weight management.’ explains Shona
Give in a little. Shona suggests ‘Three squares of good quality dark chocolate (minimum 70% cocoa): this amount will only contain a relatively small amount of sugar, and there is also evidence that dark chocolate has health benefit’. Eat a bit of what you’re craving and try to stick to a 150-calorie threshold
‘It is not only essential supplement good for heart, joints and brain but it will keep you fuller for longer as it enhances insulin sensitivity. Go for Nature’s Plus blend, Ultra Omega 3/6/9 (www.revital.co.uk, £17.75).’ Barns recommends