In 2014 sugar is a diet enemy, especially as it is becoming increasingly linked to life threatening conditions such as obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular disease and even cancer.
The fact of the matter is, as a nation we are consuming far too much of the sweet stuff. Many of us are unaware of the sugar content found in certain foods – particularly pre-packaged goods – and worse still, how badly we are becoming addicted to it.
Research suggests sugar has similar addictive qualities to that of opiate drugs, which means willpower might never be enough to give it up completely. Therefore in order to better manage how much sugar you consume, you should take simple steps to tackle your cravings gradually.
Here are five recommended ways to do so:
Eat a breakfast high in protein
Eating a breakfast of eggs or a smoothie with protein powder can help to maintain a steady blood sugar level throughout the day. Eating this much protein (15-20g) first thing will stave off sugar cravings which can result from blood sugar levels dropping too low.
Snack on healthy fats
Choosing good fats to snack on can help you feel fuller for longer and thus will help to further reduce sugar cravings. Coconut oil is a type of fat that the body uses straight away rather than storing, so try having a spoonful when you feel low. It will pick your energy levels up in an instant and will help to prevent you from reaching for something sugary.
Cut out artificial sweeteners
A study conducted by Yale University found that although calorie-free, artificial sweeteners such as aspartame – found in sugar-free drinks – can increase sugar cravings. This is because their consumption reduces the brain’s dopamine levels, which leaves the body feeling an intense craving for sugar (to replace the lost dopamine). To avoid this cycle, it is recommended that you eliminate artificial sweeteners from your diet.
Get eight hours sleep
Sleep deprivation can increase hunger levels and thus the likelihood that you will reach for sugary foods during the day. This is because the hormones leptin and ghrelin that are linked to hunger become unbalanced. Aim to get eight hours sleep or more a night to prevent this.
Add cinnamon to your food
Cinnamon is a natural, healthy ingredient that provides the same sweetness as sugar. Add a couple of teaspoons to coffee, baking recipes and breakfast smoothies to provide additional flavour and spice, but to also help lower your blood sugar levels and cholesterol.