How many times have you said to yourself, or have heard others say “I need something sweet” after a meal? Quite often I guess. After all, many of us have been brought up with idea of having something sweet to finish with. It happens at home, school, and when we go out for dinner. But do we really need it? I think most of us would say that we don’t, and you’d be right. Following your ‘sweet fix’ can come the guilty feeling for not having the willpower to say no. These guilty feelings are more detrimental to our health than the food!
"A LOT OF THE TIME THESE CRAVINGS ARE DUE TO HABIT, UNSTABLE BLOOD SUGAR, STRESS, EMOTIONAL EATING, UPBRINGING AND NUTRIENT DEFICIENCIES".
There are some simple ways to help reduce sugar cravings, and hopefully to get rid of them full stop!
- Eat every 2-3 hours to balance blood sugars. Blood sugar regulation is the key to reducing sugar cravings. This is because when our blood sugars crash, out body needs something to pick them back up; it doesn’t care what it is, so it makes you crave sugar! Eating meals and snacks 2-3 hours apart, always containing some form of protein (organic meat, eggs, lentils, nuts etc), will help stabilise them to avoid any crashes.
- Start adding more greens to your plates. You can change your taste buds, and eating more greens can help you do this. The bitterness in the greens will make you more sensitive to the sweetness of sugar, therefore reducing the amount of sugar in your diet.
- Add more fat to your meals. These come in the form of avocado, nuts, organic butter, coconut, oily fish, olive oil. These also help with balancing blood sugars (as well as protein) and they keep you fuller for longer, therefore reducing cravings.
- Avoid packaged and processed foods. These contain added sugars, flavour enhancers, preservatives, artificial sweeteners etc. All of these will leave you craving more sugary foods. If you do buy packaged food, check the ingredients list; if it says sugar, or something you don’t understand, put it down!
- Add organic vanilla extract to foods such as smoothies, porridge, yoghurt etc. This can be very good at reducing sugar cravings.
- Be aware that fruit is still a sugar, even though it is natural. This means it will still spike your blood sugars. If you want some fruit, have it with some form of protein, such as nuts or ground flaxseeds.
- Reduce caffeine and alcohol intake. Both of these will spike blood sugar levels, just like sugar does. Enjoy herbal teas such as lemon, ginger, liquorice, fennel, peppermint etc. If you go out for a drink with friends, try sparkling water with fresh lemon/lime, or enjoy a glass of good quality red wine.
There are healthier options though, if you are still craving after these pointers.
- Peppermint or lemon and ginger tea
- 2-3 squares of 85% dark chocolate (or raw chocolate)- good quality dark chocolate is loaded with antioxidants, so you will get some health benefits from it J
- 2 tablespoons of organic greek yoghurt with cinnamon
- Berries/apple with a handful of nuts or seeds
- Ground flaxseeds soaked in coconut milk, sprinkled with cinnamon
- Good quality, natural protein shake (no artificial sweeteners!)
- Healthy brownie (see below for recipe)
- Hot cocoa (JUST cocoa, not sweetened stuff!), you can make this with coconut milk or unsweetened almond milk.
If you are still craving sweet foods, you may be low is some essential nutrients and therefore may benefit from supplementation. However, make sure you talk to a nutritional therapist before self prescribing.
180g whole walnuts
425g Medjool dates, pitted
110g raw cacao/cocoa
80g raw unsalted almonds/brazil nuts, roughly chopped
¼ tsp. sea salt
1. Place walnuts in food processor and blend on high until the nuts are finely ground.
2. Add the cacao and salt. Pulse to combine.
3. Add the dates one at a time through the feed tube of the food processor while it is running. What you should end up with is a mix that appears rather like cake crumbs, but that when pressed, will easily stick together (if the mixture does not hold together well, add more dates).
4. In a large bowl (or the pan you plan on putting the brownies in), combine the walnut-cacao mix with the chopped almonds. Press into a lined cake pan or mold. Place in freezer or fridge until ready to serve (it is also easier to cut these when they are very cold). Store in an airtight container.