Many of us have fallen into a sugar trap over the past year with lockdown, where sweet treats and snacking have become second nature.
Since we naturally enjoy the taste of sweet foods, it is easy for the occasional treat to become part of our daily routine without us realising. As a result, when we stop, we grow cravings.
Sugar is often regarded as a pleasure by our brain, which leads to an insatiable need for more of it. Registered Nutritionist Caroline Sheldon from Midlife Management shares her tips on how to overcome your sugar addiction.
- Include sources of protein, healthy fats and vegetables at every meal. These foods are your friends as they nourish your body, provide the raw materials for energy production and promote a feeling of being full and satisfied at mealtimes. Protein and healthy fats promote balanced blood sugar levels and help reduce the fluctuations in blood sugar levels triggered by the refined carbohydrates in sweet treats. It’s these fluctuations in blood sugar levels which may contribute to cravings, headaches, fatigue, shakiness and excessive appetite.
- Set yourself up for success by choosing healthy fats such as eggs, avocados, oily fish (salmon, mackerel, anchovies, sardines and herring), nuts and seeds. Mix up your choice of nuts and seeds to help support gut health at the same time! I like to add a splash of extra virgin olive oil to my steamed vegetables or over a salad to help me feel fuller for longer.
- When choosing fruit, aim for lower sugar varieties such as berries, apples, pears, citrus fruits and cherries. If you enjoy yoghurt for breakfast, choose a full fat variety as low fat versions tend to be high in sugar.
- Aim for regular mealtimes and ensure that you chew your food thoroughly to leave you feeling satisfied at the end of your meal and therefore less likely to reach for a sweet treat.
- Keep well hydrated. If you don’t enjoy drinking water, make it more appealing by adding ginger, mint, lemon or cucumber. I like to make fancy ice cubes containing berries or rosemary leaves. If my glass looks pretty, I’m less likely to ignore its contents! If you prefer hot drinks, try a herbal blend containing cinnamon or a green tea to support your blood sugar levels in between meals.
- If you experience a mid-afternoon slump in energy levels, it can be really challenging to avoid reaching for chocolate and cake. I find this smoothie can really help to pick up my energy levels and support my gut health. Most importantly, it also tastes delicious:
- 1 green banana (an excellent source of resistant starch. When bananas ripen, their sugar content increases),
- 250ml nut milk (I like hazelnut milk),
- 1 tablespoon of organic cacao powder,
- 1 tablespoon of sprouted flaxseeds,
- 1 handful of walnuts, and
- 5 ice cubes made from filtered water.
Pop all of the ingredients into the blender and drink immediately.
- Finally, remember to be kind to yourself. Change is hard and doesn’t happen all at once. If you are finding it difficult to slay your sugar addiction, look back through these tips and think about which changes might help you to feel well-nourished and energised tomorrow. A poor night’s sleep can lead to intense cravings the following day, so think about the quality of your sleep too.
If you’d like more information around reducing sugar and supporting sleep, follow me on Instagram @midlifemanagement.