As a dietitian I’m always telling people that they shouldn’t avoid any foods (unless they have allergies or intolerances, obviously). Generally, avoiding foods tends to backfire. If you tell yourself that you’re not allowed to have something you’ll want it even more and you’ll end up cracking and indulging in far more than you would have had you just allowed yourself to have a small amount of it in the first place. That being said, I frequently hear people saying that they’re addicted to sugar and having small amounts just doesn’t work for them. In some cases, going cold-turkey may be the best option. If you’re going cold-turkey what’s the best way to curb those cravings?
Here are a few tips that may help in your quest to avoid added sugar:
- Make sure that you’re eating regularly, and consuming protein at all meals and snacks. We tend to crave things, and be most susceptible to our cravings when we’re overly hungry. Protein will help to increase satiety.
- When a craving hits, try distracting yourself by doing something that makes eating difficult: e.g. go for a walk, take a bath, knit, read a book, write a blog post ;)
- Make yourself a healthy sweet treat. Try mixing unsweetened cocoa powder with plain yoghurt and berries (if you use thawed frozen berries the juice from them combines really well). Or have oatmeal with mashed banana or fresh blueberries, add some cinnamon or unsweetened cocoa powder and shredded coconut or nuts. Snack on frozen grapes. David’s Tea also has a lot of delicious dessert flavours that work as pinch hitters for dessert.
- Meditation can work for some people.
- Eat mindfully: take the time to look at your food, smell it, savour every bite, devote all of your attention to what you’re eating. Sounds a little hokey but may people benefit from mindful eating.
- Non-nutritive sweeteners like stevia and splenda may help you wean yourself off the sweet stuff. Although personally, I’d rather have no sugar than the intensity of “fake” sugar.
- Try to get 7-9 hours of sleep each night. Our sleep habits can affect our eating habits and vice versa. Not getting enough sleep can increase the number and intensity of food cravings.
- Have roasted root vegetables at supper. Roasting foods like carrots, parsnips, and sweet potatoes brings out their sugars. The caramelized vegetables may be sweet enough to stop your cravings for dessert.
- If there’s a time of day when you would normally have a sugary treat, try to replace that habit with another one.
- Don’t go it alone. It’s easier to develop new habits if you’re doing it with a partner.
- Above all, don’t be too hard on yourself. Change takes time. If you do have a sugary treat, don’t let it get you down. Don’t use one cookie as an excuse to binge on sweets for the rest of the day. No matter how badly you fell you’ve slipped-up don’t try to restrict yourself even more the following day. Just carry on with your original efforts.