Sugar got quite the bad rep this year, with many people turning their backs on it in a bid for a healthier lifestyle.
But could you curb your cravings?
Robert Hobson, Healthspan Head of Nutrition looks at ways of reducing sugar cravings and invites some key experts for advice.
1. Denial is not the answer
Denying yourself sweet foods completely is likely to result in sugar cravings and encourage binging. A little of the sweet stuff is fine in moderation and a small serving of your favourite pudding will help satisfy a sweet tooth. Have with a meal to reduce the effect on blood sugar levels.
2.Get enough sleep
Martin Budd, naturopath and author of ‘Why Am I So Exhausted’, explains:
When we are tired we often use sugar so make sure you actually do build in proper sleep.
3. Get Spicy
You could also try flavouring food and drinks with vanilla or spices such as nutmeg or cinnamon and cardamom.
Celebrity Personal Trainer www.bodybychristina.com recommends:
Mind over matter, often our little sugar treats especially after a meal are often more a habit or a way of dealing with emotional issues. Before you take a bite stop and think about why you are doing this and work through that emotion. I love Tea Pig’s liquorish tea after meals, as it tastes sweet and satisfy a craving.
5. Try a Detox
Max Tuck, aka Raw Food Doctor and author of new book ‘Whole Body Solutions’:
Introducing lots of greens into the diet, raw and preferably juiced with vegetables such as celery and cucumber, are not only detoxing but help to regulate blood sugar by providing protein, and also minerals that are responsible for maintenance of blood sugar levels, such as chromium and vanadium. Likewise, the green leaves provide an excellent source of magnesium, the "stress mineral" that many people are deficient in. Juicing greens provides whole-body benefits.
6. Dr Nyjon Eccles, www.thenaturaldoctor.org
We are not designed to eat large quantities of sugar. The body does not need extra glucose since it occurs naturally in many of the foods we eat so we simply don't need to add sugar to our food. While refined sugar is arguably the most detrimental to our health, we should still be prudent in use of healthy alternative such as honey, thinking we can then eat as much as we like since the sugar load can still stimulate too rapid a rise in insulin.
7. Nutrient Deficiencies
Nutrient deficiencies can make cravings worse and the fewer nutrient deficiencies, the fewer cravings. Certain nutrients seem to improve blood sugar control including chromium, vitamin B3 and magnesium. For nutrition advice visit www.nutritionexpert.healthspan.co.uk
8.Dr Sarah Brewer, GP, Registered Nutritionist
Research carried out by scientists in South Korea at Ewha Women’s University and Seoul National University of Science and Technology, and published in the Journal of Functional Foods, found that 50 healthy people given mulberry leaf extract before drinking a maltose (sugar) solution had lower blood glucose levels, compared to those given a placebo drink. Previous research conducted in rats had showed that mulberry leaf extract can suppress the blood sugar spike that follows eating a meal. Another study published in the American Diabetes Association’s journal Diabetes Care found ingesting mulberry leaf extract with sucrose significantly reduced the increase in blood glucose in the following 120 minutes in both healthy people and people with diabetes.
Try www.minvita.co.uk made form Mulberry leaves and available at Boots & Holland & Barrett.
Often the urge to eat refined sugar comes when blood sugars have dipped so avoiding that dip can help. Studies show that eating a combination of protein and fibre in a meal will increase satiety making it less likely you’ll reach for the biscuit tin. Another tip to manage the craving for refined sugars is to create delicious “treats” with ingredients that aren’t high in sugar but that have intense flavour hits that actually deliver nutritional benefits - raw cacao is excellent for this and can form the basis of a multitude of healthy treats without the need to be high in refined sugar.
10. Eve Gilmore, Naturopath and author of two new Paelo books including her Urban Caveman Cookbook www.hammersmithbooks.co.uk
The ancestral diet was low in carbs and did not contain sugar. The fact that less than 1% pancreatic cells produce insulin shows what a strain eating carbs and sugar puts on the body. The blood should contain about one teaspoon of sugar. A bar of chocolate could contain around 16, causing a spike in sugar stimulating the release of stress hormones and insulin. Regular sugar consumption results in sea-sawing blood sugar, fatigue, anxiety and even panic attacks. Over time, resistance to insulin can set in. Insulin is known as the fat storage hormone and can encourage weight gain, acne, hormonal imbalances, non-alcoholic-fatty-liver disease and polycystic ovaries.
Pure, white and deadly, it is said that if sugar were introduced today it would require a prescription.
Finally, simply try and eat foods that are in their natural form so the less processed foods the better.