Some people are quite content to nibble on a square of chocolate, grab a handful of crisps or a small measure of wine and put the rest away for another time. Others salivate at the mere sound of a chocolate bar thudding into the hatch of a vending machine.
For these people, experiencing a sugar craving is like being possessed. Guardian health expert Sara Stanner says this is down to the increase in the production of the hormone insulin, which causes a drop in blood-sugar levels and encourages the brain to crave something sweet.
Insulin levels can drop when people are tired, stressed, premenstrual (in the case of women of course), or even dieting.
This is why sugar cravings can feel like a great surge through your body, and explains why cookies and cake can seem extra appealing after a long day at work.
Sara says we can fight those sugary demons by avoiding that blood-sugar level drop entirely.
At breakfast forget those sugary sweet cereals (even the ones branded as ‘healthy’) and opt instead for something wholegrain and filling. Slice half a banana onto porridge, or try a poached egg on granary toast for a protein boost.
At lunch opt for whole-grains. Cook a small portion of brown pasta or rice with steamed chicken, vegetables and garlic. Low-fibre foods are absorbed more slowly, avoiding those dangerous rises in blood-sugar levels (which could be to blame for that biscuit you scoff when no one’s looking).
Eating regularly is another way to stave off cravings. Regular meals separated by one or two healthy snacks such as low-fat yoghurt, or whole grain crackers with cream cheese, should keep your cravings at bay.
When the cake tin starts to call out to you, go for a quick 10 minute jog, or do something active such as housework or gardening. This will distract you and also release feel-good hormones which should satisfy your brain for a while.
If you find yourself still gazing longingly at bakeries and sweetshops, you can always prepare a sugary but slightly healthier snack such as dried fruit, frozen yoghurt, jelly, malt loaf, rice cakes, or a thick fruit smoothie. While these can’t be guzzled willy-nilly, they are miles better than your usual confectionary.
For more information and to find out how a professional nutritionist could help you, please visit our Healthy Eating page.
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