Beat your sugar cravings with these 5 healthy tips
Sugar cravings can strike when you least expect them - like hankering after a Krispy Kreme at 3am or dreaming about a bar of Galaxy whilst you're on the treadmill - but there are strategies you can use to minimise your sugar cravings and stay on track with your healthy eating. We're sure you already know that getting at least eight hours' sleep a night, taking plenty of exercise and consuming the right nutrients can help to reduce cravings, but what else can you do?
It's all too easy to have a momentary lapse and reach for a cake or biscuit, even when it's not cheat day! The occasional sugary treat is fine, but long-term consumption of too much sugar is seriously bad news for not only your waistline but your health in general. Want raised blood sugar levels and an increased risk of obesity and diabetes? Nope, us neither. Not to mention your dentist isn't going to be best pleased if you suddenly start consuming more sugary snacks - did somebody say tooth decay?
Next time you're craving something sweet, try one of these 5 tips to curb that craving before it takes hold!
#1. Have something sour
Huh? It might sound crazy, but hear us out. You can retrain your taste buds to become more sensitive to sugar (which is why some sugary snacks can seem too sweet after sticking to healthy treats such as dates), but you can also train them to appreciate different flavours, like sour foods. Sour food has actually been shown to reduce your cravings, and it also contains probiotics which can boost your digestive health. Winning all round! How about some gherkins or pickled onions?
#2. Focus on savoury
Nip those pesky sugar cravings in the bud before they have a chance to wreck your clean-eating by going for something savoury instead! But keep it healthy; we're not suggesting a tub of Pringles is in any way a better choice than a cupcake! Spicy or salty foods are a great choice - how about some pistachios, Sriracha popcorn or slow-roasted almonds with sea salt and rosemary (drool)! A delicious savoury snack means you're still enjoying a treat, without giving into the urge for something loaded with sugar.
#3. Load up on fibre
Dietary fibre helps to keep you regular, steadies blood sugar levels and is also responsible for that fuller-for-longer feeling that we all desire. It can also help to curb cravings! We should all aim to get around 50g of fibre into our meals a day. The best option is to consume fibre-rich fruits, vegetables and whole-grains, but on busy days you could try mixing a teaspoon or two of ground flaxseed (or another natural fibre supplement) into a tall glass of water and drinking it an hour before mealtimes.
#4. Get more protein
Our brain's reward centre releases feel-good chemicals that encourage us to eat more of foods we enjoy, even when we're not hungry. That explains why it's almost impossible to stop at just one slice of pizza from Dominos then! But eating more protein can slow down the reward system and prevent you from over-indulging, and consuming too many calories which could lead to weight gain. Aim for low-fat, healthy sources of protein such as organic free-range chicken, grass-fed beef, free-range eggs, wild fish (we love salmon) or non-dairy, non-soy protein powders which you can add to shakes and smoothies. Or why not try one of our high-protein snack ideas for munching on-the-go?
#5. Get some glutamine
Not to be confused with monosodium glutamate (which is bad news for your health), glutamine is an amino acid which can help to reduce sugar cravings by balancing your blood sugar levels. Head for your local health food store and try to pick it up in powder form - it's also available as capsules - which you can easily mix with water or blend into protein shakes. Oh, it's also great for gut health too!
Bear in mind that a lot of pre-packaged convenience foods contain hidden sugars - like that tomato soup you had for lunch or the pasta sauce you cooked with last night - so most of us are actually consuming far more sugar than we need. Next time the craving for something to satisfy your sweet tooth strikes, you'll know what to do!