My local village has a fantastic whole foods shop called Garlands Organic. Over the years, I’ve been there thousands of times as a customer. I have also spent many Saturdays there as an in-store health coach, to answer their customer’s health and wellbeing questions.
On one occasion, the chosen monthly topic was sugar and among many other free resources (including delicious sugar-free cakes!), I provided a list of ten ideas to help people quit sugar.
Rather than keeping these confined to a small corner of Berkshire, I thought I should share them more widely.
So, if you struggle to walk past sugary treats without taking one, have routines based around sugar consumption, have times when you feel you need a sugar hit to keep going, or develop a headache or have mood swings or cravings if you have to go without sugar for a day, then try introducing one or more of these top tips:
1. Reduce or eliminate caffeine.
The ups and downs of caffeine include dehydration and blood sugar swings, and may cause sugar cravings to become more frequent.
2. Drink water.
Sometimes sweet cravings are a sign of dehydration. Before you go for the sugar, have a glass of water and wait a few minutes to see what happens.
3. Eat sweet vegetables and fresh fruit.
They are naturally sweet, delicious and healthy (in moderation). The more you eat, the less you’ll crave sugar.
4. Use gentle sweeteners.
Avoid chemicalised, artificial sweeteners and foods with added sugar. Use gentler natural sweeteners like maple syrup, brown rice syrup, dried fruit, stevia and barley malt.
5. Get physically active.
Introduce simple activities like walking or yoga. Start with 10 minutes a day and gradually increase. Being active helps balance blood sugar levels, boosts energy and reduces tension, which will eliminate the need to self-medicate with sugar!
6. Get more sleep, rest and relaxation.
Simple carbohydrates, such as sugar, are the most readily usable forms of energy for an exhausted body and mind. If you are in a chronic state of stress and/or sleep deprivation, your body will crave the quickest form of energy there is: sugar.
7. Evaluate the amount of animal food you eat.
According to yin/yang principles of eating, eating too much animal food (yang) can lead to cravings for sweets (yin).
8. Eliminate fat-free or low-fat packaged foods.
These foods contain high quantities of sugar to compensate for lack of flavour and fat, which will send you on the roller-coaster ride of sugar highs and lows.
9. Experiment with spices.
Coriander, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves and cardamom will naturally sweeten your foods and reduce cravings.
10. Slow down and find sweetness in non-food ways!
Every craving is not a signal that your body requires sugar. Cravings often have a psychological component. By identifying the root causes of food cravings and making lifestyle and relationship adjustments, you can begin to find balance and take charge of your health.
I’d love to hear if you’ve got any tried-and-tested methods for stopping a sugar craving in its tracks. If so, let me know in the comments below.