I am a sugar addict. I know it, my family knows it, everyone knows it. I know I should have a proper Fear of Sugar; we know, as far as health is concerned, that we eat too much of it. Some studies suggest sugar is eight times more addictive than cocaine — the brain undergoes a greater neurological reward after having something sweet than it does after cocaine and you get similar withdrawals when you cut it out — only this white substance is everywhere you look and (presumably like cocaine) near impossible to give up. Going completely cold turkey this time of year just will not work. You're better taking it in stages to make the transition easier. Here are some simple tips to try to kick the sweet habit.
Timing is important
In order to successfully reduce your sugar intake, it's so important to be realistic; don't attempt to rid yourself of sugar just before a major celebration or just before you go away on holiday, get married or move house — it won't work, there's too much temptation at these events. Start afresh when your calendar goes back to normal where you can give yourself the best chance of succeeding.
Remember to keep eating
Eat within one hour of waking up — this will help to stabilise your blood sugar for the day ahead. Don't make up for overeating the sweet stuff by not eating whatsoever — I guarantee you'll only last the morning eating nothing and the late-day binge will soon follow. Always have a healthy snack on hand whether you're at home or on the go; nuts are an ideal option for snacking — they are sugar-free, unlike fruit which can be loaded with it. Also, as we know, not all fats are bad. Healthy, unsaturated fats such as those found in salmon or avocado, balance your sugar levels and help keep you fuller for longer.
Cutting out sweets, chocolate, cake, added sugars in teas and coffees and super sugary cocktails will make a huge difference on their own and your body and skin will thank you for it. But baby steps are key; don't be too hard on yourself for falling off the wagon in the early days — a glass of red wine on a Friday has health benefits all on its own, after all — and having a little will make it easier to ditch it altogether, as the weeks go on. Also, dark chocolate — a piece or two at least 70% cacao — will curb your sugar craving and it's full of antioxidants.
H20 is your new best friend
Drink plenty of water. Research says that our minds and bodies can often confuse a yearning for water with a yearning for something sweet, so keep yourself hydrated to ensure these confusing signals are kept to a minimum.
Artificial sweeteners are not a good idea
Artificial sweeteners may be calorie-free but did you know they create a surge in insulin that leads to more hunger and sugar cravings? Substitute with stevia or avoid altogether and opt for a serving of low-sugar fruit such as kiwis or green grapes. A tip: Cinnamon makes a great substitute for sugar in coffee and gives it a kick. Always read labels if you're unsure; sugar is everywhere and has many aliases in the form of corn syrup, dextrin, dextrose, fructose, glucose, lactose and many more.
The sugar cravings should get easier after the first seven days so if you can keep them reduced up until then, you're on the right track.
Main photograph: Pexels