It's now widely accepted that sugar is responsible for more than just cavities! Diabetes, obesity, cardiovascular disease and cancer have all been attributed in some way to sugar intake.
This is definitely reason for alarm. Not only do many of the packaged foods we eat contain large amounts of sugar, but studies have shown sugar to have similar addictive qualities to that of opiate drugs. Regardless of your intentions to quit sugar, willpower might not be enough.
As a certified nutritional practitioner, these are the top five tips I give my clients, and use myself, to manage cravings and get off of sugar:
1. Eat a high protein breakfast.
Starting the day off with a large dose of protein (15-20g) helps you maintain a steady blood sugar level throughout the day. Sugar cravings are much easier to avoid if you do not let your blood sugar spike too high and then dip too low. Eggs or a smoothie with protein powder are great options.
2. Snack on healthy fats.
Fats help you feel full, reducing the likelihood you will reach for the sweets. Not all fats, however, are created equal. A good fat source that I recommend is coconut oil, as it’s a medium chain triglyceride that the body uses right away for energy, rather than storing it as fat. A simple tablespoon or two of coconut oil will leave you feeling full and energized. If the thought of it on its own doesn’t make you salivate, use it in your baking!
3. Eliminate artificial sweeteners.
Although artificial sweeteners are calorie-free, a Yale study has shown that certain sweeteners like aspartame and sucralose can actually increase your sugar cravings. Consuming these zero calorie sweeteners reduces the brain’s dopamine levels, leaving the body feeling an intense craving for sugar, which will increase brain dopamine. Avoid this vicious cycle altogether and stay away from artificial sweeteners.
4. Sleep a minimum of 8 hours a night.
Two hormones, leptin and ghrelin, are closely linked to hunger. Ghrelin triggers the hunger sensation, while leptin causes feelings of satiation. With prolonged sleep deprivation, leptin production decreases, and ghrelin production increases, causing the body to feel hungry and therefore increasing the likelihood of reaching for the sweets.
5. Sweeten with cinnamon.
There’s no denying that we’re programmed to like the sweet taste of food but there are natural ingredients that can be added to recipes to provide a hint of sweetness, without the sugar. A great one for coffee, baking or breakfast smoothies is cinnamon. Not only does cinnamon add flavour to your food, but just 1/2 teaspoon daily helps lower your blood sugar levels, triglycerides and LDL cholesterol.
Now, onto quitting time!