By Niamh Keogh
As previously outlined in my post Fiction or Addiction : Refined Sugar there are many reasons this once kitchen cupboard staple has become the new taboo in people’s diets.
Reassessing your daily intake of refined sugar will open your eyes, and then slightly terrify you.
Reducing your intake will harvest benefits such as increased levels of energy, reduced cravings, clearer complexion, reduced calorie intake leading to possible weight loss, stabilised levels of hunger, so on and so forth. The list is endless really.
Is it hard to reduce your sugar consumption? Dear God, yes.
Is it worth? You betcha!
Here are a few tips that helped me give sugar the boot.
Educate yourself by reading labels
Quite often people only associate refined sugar with the obvious such as chocolate, jellies, and all of the other delicious things we should occasionally enjoy. Once you’ve assessed the ingredients of the food you’re eating, you’ll quickly realise that refined sugar is everywhere, and you may not even have been aware you were consuming it. It could also be disguised under a sneaky name such as ‘brown rice syrup’ or something equally as blindsiding as ‘low fat’, ‘Gluten free’, ‘High protein’ often meaning ‘high sugar’ so the taste isn’t compromised. Illuminati is very real my friends! Such marketing ploys are keeping our subconscious level of sugar addiction threading steadily along, and their profits soaring high as we continue to crave the sugar, buy the sugar, eat the sugar.
Don’t cut it all out at once
How do you eat an elephant? Piece by piece.
Do not attempt to cut all sugar out of your diet all at once, this is the WORST thing you can do. I really wouldn’t advise going cold turkey when it comes to sugar. Someone once told me that it’s easier for a smoker to give up cigarettes than it is for people to completely eradicate sugar in one go. Is this scientifically proven? Haven’t a breeze, but it’s definitely a near impossible thing to do, unless your willpower is second to none. And in that case, tell me your secrets!
It’s human nature to sometimes get a little too ambitious with our plans, and wanting to cut out everything at once, essentially setting ourselves up for failure. But when attempting to take on a big challenge like reducing sugar, assess what you need to do, break it down, start small and take it from there.
Small changes but loads of consistency
One sugar in your tea and coffee instead of two
Halve or share it with someone. Whether it’s a chocolate bar, bag of jellies or dessert.
Swapping for a sugar free alternative.
One scoop of ice-cream instead of two.
Out of sight – Out of mind
You can’t eat something that’s not there. Remove yourself from temptation and keep sugar out of reach. Easier said than done when living and or working in a mutual space but don’t buy something and convince yourself you’ll only eat half or save it for emergencies. We all know how that ends. I’ve taken things out of the bin before thinking that would stop me #NoShame
I’d like to argue that maybe you can physically run away from sugar, it worked for me.
My sweet tooth was always my biggest downfall and personally, for me, I found upping my physical activity and taking up running essentially eradicated sugar cravings for the rest of that day, another reason to squeeze in that 30 minute sweat sesh!
Start your day the right way
Think savory Vs. sweet breakfast.
Stabilise your blood sugar levels from get go and inhibit sugar cravings before they even get a chance to happen! No refined or natural sugars at breakfast, not even fruit, not even root veg, not even milk, don’t give your taste buds a chance to crave it for the rest of the day!! If and when I’m either craving sugar or am in need of a post sugar binge detox, I swear by a high fat high protein breakfast, and the days I stick to this I tend to have minimal cravings. What the body doesn’t know it can’t have seems to work wonders Breakfasts such as eggs, smoked salmon, veg/meat loaded omelettes, lean protein source such as chicken fillets, fish etc. nuts… Essentially, think stereotypical dinner foods , but for breakfast.
Fake it until you make it
Disclaimer: Great for short term relief, terrible for long term health
This is the point where my lack of qualifications shines through like sunbeams! I’m completely unaware of the harmless effects artificial sweeteners have on our overall health, and ignorance is most definitely bliss in my case so I’m going to stick my head in the sand until I’m ready to deal with that downfall! HOWEVER, artificial sweeteners, I find, do satisfy my sweet tooth when it’s getting out of hand and I needs a fix. Protein bars, sugar free jelly, diet drinks, you name it, I’ve eaten it!
Avoid naturally occurring sugars
Although unrefined sources of sugar that occur naturally in foods such as fruit, root vegetables, some dairy products etc are PACKED full of goodness that we really should be consuming, sometimes I step away from it altogether because one I get the taste, the cycle kicks in. Eat not, want not!
Opt for naturally occurring sugar
Contradicting what I just said, if you’re the personality type who can be satisfied by naturally occurring sugars and doesn’t lead to more cravings, then by all means, go right ahead!
All down to the individual!
Alcoholic drinks can be absolute sugar minefields, full of calories and loaded with the sweet stuff. Ever wonder why your cravings sky rocket the morning after the night before? Assess your drink of choice and figure out if your downing the sugar in liquid form on nights out. Drink sugar Crave Sugar (liquid, solid or otherwise).
One or None
I believe there are two types of people on this earth. Those who can indulge slightly and walk away, and those who indulge slightly, absolutely lose their shit and say ‘fuck this’ and eat everything sweet insight for the next 48 hours. Unfortunately, I am the latter!
As I always say, you do you!
If you can have a small bit of what you like and be satisfied, well then do that, if you can’t, then maybe avoid altogether? A possible catch 22 however as complete deprivation can often lead to binges but it’s all about getting to know your habits and reverse engineering them.
Break the habit
Sometimes it’s not even cravings that are making you consume sugar, it’s the nature of habit, and we all know how hard that can be to break!
I always crave sugar after dinner, so I drink peppermint tea and if they’re really bad, a quick walk does the trick.
Sometimes, I lose the plot and eat all the sugar in sight #Balance?
Tea and coffee
Ah, another addiction of mine.
Minus the sugar and stick to water based tea, herbal teas and coffees and it does wonders for keeping cravings at bay. Unless you find you need something sweet alongside your hot drink, in that case, never mind!
Have dessert first
Bear with me on this one.
Often we crave sweet things straight after our finishing main meals like lunch, dinner etc.
Problem is, if you give in to your sweet tooth, you end up wanting more and more, and the willpower to stop at a few squares of chocolate is sometimes easier said than done.
I once heard a suggestion of eating your sweet treats before starting on your main meal, and that may combat the issue of not being able to stop when you’ve started on the sweet stuff.
I’ve tried it, and it works…
Sleep. And last but not least, catch some of those beautiful Zs.
Lack of sufficient sleep results in a magnesium deficiency often leading the body searching for alternative fast and quick energy fixes to, i.e sugar cravings.
Getting enough hours sleep will naturally increase energy levels, helping to subside and reduce sugar cravings as your body doesn’t need a quick and high calorie sugar energy fix.
More sleep? Don’t have to tell me twice!
Granted these suggestions aren’t scientifically proven to help reduce sugar cravings and transform your taste-buds, and some may be of no use to you at all, but most have helped me get over the ever growing sugar hurdle so hope they can be of some use to you too!