Fight the sugary food cravings by Oliver McCabe

Many of us would like to cut down our sugar intake at this time of the year, but it can be difficult to resist the craving for sugary, sweet foods.

Try the tips below to reduce your sugar intake.

  • Eat plenty of fibre. Fibre makes your body feel fuller quicker during meals, and keeps you feeling full for longer. Replace refined sugars with fruit and white bread with whole wheat choices. Add extra vegetables to your meals every day.
  • Sleep at least eight hours each night. Sleeping less may make you crave sugary foods and drain your energy during the day, making you burn fewer calories.
  • Eat several small meals a day – breakfast, lunch, dinner and two snacks rather than three big meals. Don’t skip any meals during the day. Skipping meals may cause you to overeat at your next meal. Your body compensates for the skipped meal earlier in the day.
  • Snack on finger foods between meals and avoid foods that are high in carbohydrates. Sugar causes mood swings and quick changes to your energy level. Your energy level peaks after eating a high carbohydrate meal, but dips shortly afterwards, leaving you hungry before your next mealtime. Try carrot and celery sticks.
  • Avoid eating when you are angry or emotional. Go for a walk or attend a yoga class.
  • Participate in regular exercise or play a sport that you love and look forward to. This will get you over that ‘couldn’t be bothered’ attitude. Your body produces endorphins when you exercise, releasing serotonin, the feel-good hormone, into your bloodstream. These hormones also inhibit food cravings and burn extra calories throughout the day, making it easier to compensate for a mistake when you slip into a food craving.

Sugar alternatives

Sugar raises your blood sugar quickly, leading to the inevitable ‘sugar highs’ followed by a crash. So what are the alternatives?

  • Xylitol is an unrefined plant sweetener with a very low glycaemic load and can be used in cooking and baking.
  • Coconut palm sugar is as sweet as sugar with the same amount of calories, but raises blood sugar more gently. It also contains B vitamins and minerals.
  • Stevia is a herb that is much sweeter than sugar, with insignificant calories.
  • Maple syrup is delicious and sweet, with just over half the calories of sugar. It is made from the sap of maple trees and contains small amounts of vitamins and minerals.
  • Honey has fewer calories than sugar, but is almost as sweet. It is often antibiotic, especially raw local honey.
  • Blackstrap molasses is a by-product of sugar refining. It’s very high in iron and has fewer calories than sugar. However, its sweetness is due to the same molecules as sugar.
  • Fruit concentrates are lower in calories than sugar and raise the blood sugar more gently. You can get fruit concentrates as liquids or spreads, often organically grown.
  • Fructose is marketed as a natural alternative to sugar, but it’s actually manufactured from industrial glucose. It has the same amount of calories as sugar, but does raise blood sugar very slowly.