10 tips to satisfy your sugar cravings without the guilt
If you’re anything like me, there will be a certain time of the day where you just want something sweet. For whatever reason, we all have our danger times and for me it can happen either mid - morning or straight after dinner.
We all know that regular/excess processed sugar consumption is not good for our health or our waistlines, but that desire to eat something sweet is so strong that it’s easy to succumb to sugar's sweet call.
So why is it so hard to resist sugar? Apart from tasting great, eating sugar activates the brain’s reward system and the feel-good chemical dopamine is released. When the reward system is activated it signals an event as positive and results in repeated feel good behaviour, making it hard to kick the sugar craving habit.
There is a plethora of information available on why we crave sugar, it can be from undereating, eating the wrong types of food, lack of sleep (yes that’s right – this is a real thing), dehydration, stress or a blood sugar imbalance.
Whilst it’s important to understand the root cause of your sugar cravings, this article is designed to give you some tips that may help you to reduce sugar consumption.
When the sugar monster calls, check that you’re not dehydrated. Have a glass of water with a squeeze of lemon or flavour it with some fresh berries or have a cup of herbal tea. This will not only contribute to the much-needed water intake our bodies require to function, but it can also curb that sweet craving, even if it's for half an hour to an hour. If you really feel like something sweet after that, try out some of the following options.
- Go for a piece of nature’s candy, have a piece of your favourite fruit. I find that a banana or an apple spread with some sugar free peanut butter really takes the edge of that sugar craving and I feel truly satisfied.
- Have a date! Packed with minerals, fresh Medjool dates are a good source of selenium, magnesium, calcium, potassium & copper. They have a sweet caramel taste and chewy texture and are absolutely delicious. They are so sweet that you’ll only need one or two. Try it stuffed with sugar free peanut butter – YUM!
- Make yourself a cup of tea, whether you like your tea with or without milk or sugar, a cup of tea is a great low-calorie sweet alternative that will put that cookie monster back in its box. A great sugar free sweeter is monk fruit or xylitol that tastes great (no aftertaste) and can help with cutting back on sugar consumption. Spice things up a bit with your teas – go for dessert tea blends that are made without sugar and use natural ingredients to flavour their teas. My favourite dessert tea blend at the moment is Tea-Cherie’s Caramel Kiss.
- Have a piece or two of good quality chocolate. The darker the better! The higher the cocoa content in chocolate the less refined sugar, chocolate that is 70% cocoa will have 30% sugar. Another great option for when you have time, is to melt your dark chocolate and dip them into fresh strawberries or dried apricots – this is a match made in heaven and a much healthier sweet option than devouring a chocolate bar.
- Have a handful of raw almonds with some sultanas. Packed with calcium, magnesium, manganese, copper, vitamin K, protein and zinc, almonds are not only a tasty but healthy sweet snack. Combine the almonds with the natural sweetness of sultanas and you get a fruit and nut hit without the refined sugar.
- Make yourself a yoghurt & fruit bowl. Make sure you choose a yogurt that’s low on the sugar, some flavoured yoghurts have so much sugar that it’s like having a decadent dessert. Sarah Wilson the author of, ‘I quit sugar’ recommends choosing foods with less than 5g of sugar per 100g. Note, with dairy products the first 4.7g of sugar is in fact lactose, so when calculating your total sugar subtract 4.7g from the total sugar per 100g on the nutritional panel. For example, the total sugar is 15.1g per 100g, subtract 4.7 from the 15.1 and your total sugar per 100g in this instance is 10.4g per 100g. In Australia, the Chobani Greek style vanilla yoghurt works out to be 5.1g of sugar per 100g, it’s creamy and delicious. Add some sliced mango and strawberries and you’ve got yourself a guilt free tasty treat.
- Have a lo carb bar handy. For days where you’ve not had time to prepare, make sure you have a low cab bar in your handbag or lunch box. I like the Aussie Bodies Cookies & Cream Lo Carb bars which are tasty and only contain 1.3g of sugar & 106 calories per serve. A great low calorie, low sugar snack to have on hand.
- Make yourself a smoothie. Smoothies are a filling, easy to digest and nutritious way to satisfy a sweet tooth. I make my smoothie with a cup of almond milk (sugar free), ½ cup of frozen blueberries, 2 Medjool dates, ½ teaspoon of cinnamon,1 teaspoon glutamine and slippery elm bark for gut health. These flavours not for you? Make it how you like it using ingredients you love.
- Substitute sugar with pure maple syrup, rice malt syrup, xylitol, monk fruit or dates in cake and biscuit recipes. Is there a dessert that you absolutely love? Try swapping the sugar with some of these options and see how they taste; I have done this successfully with most of the recipes I’ve tried out.
- Make yourself a sugar free hot chocolate. This three-ingredient recipe is easy to make and will hit that sugar spot. All you need is 1 cup of your milk of choice (I like full cream milk) 1 teaspoon good quality unsweetened cocoa (I use Van Houten Cacao) 1 teaspoon monk fruit or xylitol as your sweetener. Place all the ingredients in a small pot and stir over a med-high heat on your stove. Take off the stove just before it starts to boil (you don’t want the milk to burn), pour into your favourite mug, sit back relax and enjoy.
These are just some tips that I adopt to help with my sugar cravings, I hope these tips have given you some inspiration. This post is for informational purposes only and is not intended as medical advice. Please consult your healthcare professional for recommendations related to your personal circumstances.