19th September 2016 by Jess
Learn how to cut out sugar from your diet. The graze nutritionist Jess shares why you crave sugar and 5 easy ways to reduce your sugar cravings.
Many people make amazing food choices for breakfast and lunch, and then come 3pm (or after dinner, or both!), it is as if someone else has taken over their body and turned them into a total sugarholic!! The sugar cravings and subsequent consumption of sugar kick in, and they’ve lost all control, despite their best intentions.
So, why do we all love sugar so much, even from an early age? We are born with a preference for sweet foods, a natural sweet tooth. To our early ancestors, foods that were sweet indicated that they were a good source of energy, while bitterness was considered to be an indication of toxicity. However, access to sweet foods was limited, now it is everywhere!
This means that when we have our moment of ‘weakness’ (which I like to call being human) and crave something sweet, we have such a spectrum of foods to choose from, available from our office canteen, convenience stores, or in our kitchen cupboards. No foraging required, we can get these foods all year round, irrespective of the season.
Adrenalin leads you to use glucose stores (stored glucose is known as glycogen) and as the glucose fuel tank gets low, you crave it to fill the get out of danger fuel tank.
Top tip: if you haven’t got any deep breathing rituals in your daily routine, attending a regular meditation or yoga practice would be a great addition in your life. It will switch your rest, digest and repair part of your nervous system ON so your body can learn that it’s not in actual danger, and that work deadline or that traffic jam isn’t a life threatening situation!
Taste buds renew every 10-14 days! This means we can train our taste buds to enjoy food with less sweetness in a relatively short space of time.
By making a switch from highly refined sugars to naturally sweet or savoury ingredients, you can actually lower the threshold level of sweet food you prefer.
So an example of this in practical terms, say you’re used to having a fruit smoothie in the morning made up entirely of fruit, week by week if you start introducing some of the fruit with green leafy vegetables which are naturally bitter you will start to get used to the reduced sweetness. Once you have become used to having veggie smoothies with only a touch of fruit, you will find 100% fruit based smoothies overly sweet for your taste buds.
If you amp yourself up on caffeine, it will cause your body to produce adrenaline, which is a negative as previously mentioned. Your body will predominantly burn glucose and you will crave sugar to replenish your stores.
Top tip: switch coffee to herbal tea which is much more restorative for your health, especially if you’re someone that can’t possibly live without your morning coffee.
There are so many different types of chocolate on the market today and they all vary in quality. Some offer great benefits to the body whilst others instead place a nutritional burden on the body. It all comes down to the processing of the cocoa bean and what is added or not added to the finished product.
Raw cacao powder is made by cold-pressing cocoa beans. The process keeps the living enzymes in the cocoa and removes the fat (cacao butter), whilst retaining all of the natural health benefits of cocoa beans such as its rich magnesium, zinc, copper and manganese content.
By keeping cacao in your pantry, you can add it to your baking, smoothies, hot chocolate or other chocolate tasting dishes, and you’ll know your body is soaking up all the natural goodness, whilst enjoying the chocolate fix.
Food can numb emotional pain, although we may not realise we are using it for this reason. You may crave sugar because you are subconsciously looking for more sweetness and joy in life; seeking momentary relief from drudgery or boredom.
Top tip: If this is something you can identify with, then getting to the route cause of the problem and spending some time doing some emotional repairing will serve your body much better in the long run as sugar is only a short term fix. Try keeping a journal and log your thoughts and make self care a priority.
By Jess, graze nutritionist.
Our nutritionist extraordinaire, Jess trained at the Institute for Optimum Nutrition and is a registered practitioner with the British Association for Applied Nutrition & Nutritional Therapy. She's the creator of our health badges, to help you choose the snacks and boxes that are right for you. Check out everything from Jess on our blog, with recipes and tricks to help you keep making better choices, or go to her website at jessntom.com for even more.
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