CUT THE SUGAR CUT THE CRAVINGS
Sugar is addictive, it is a like a drug to our system and as such the removal of sugar can be done in two ways firstly by reducing your intake or substituting refined sugars or going 'cold turkey'. However, quickly removing sugar from your diet can cause withdrawal symptoms including fatigue, depression, headaches and muscle aches which will make you want to break your resolve. The reasons we have these cravings is because when we consume sugary products which create blood sugar spikes initiating an insulin response which in turn lowers your blood sugar often below what is optimal creating the roller coaster of hunger, fatigue, emotions and cravings.
If you are planning to reduce your sugar intake firstly look at the refined sugar alternatives which hold essential nutrients and don't just carry empty calories. The table above provides information to help you to make a more informed choice, the second thing to consider is using these sweeteners with low glycaemic index foods, for example put maple syrup in your porridge or on your weetabix, by mixing high and low glycaemic content of your meals you will have a more rounded effect on the blood sugar spikes. It is also fact that if you start with less sugar in the mornings the more balanced your blood sugars will be throughout the day. Perhaps forget the cereal altogether and focus on eggs, avocado and whole meal bread for the first meal of the day. There is evidence to show that high protein breakfasts have been proven to reduce the cravings
I have cut out my sweet drinks (namely hot chocolate) and replaced them with water, both hot and cold containing lemon or a infusion of fruits. I use dates, apricots, ginger and garlic on occasion, ha ha don't knock it til you have tried it! Make sure that you are well hydrated another shortcoming of mine is that always confused thirst with hunger often drinking one cup of hot chocolate a day, which meant my body got very adept and drawing the fluids from my food. You body is amazing and it will adapt and function seemingly well on what we give it. Over the past 12 weeks I have made a concerted effort to drink more and you may think this is bizarre but for the first time in what seems a lifetime I am actually feel thirsty during the day.
To combat the sugar cravings I have pretty much gone cold turkey and focused on what I eat in my main meals, sweet potatoes. butternut squash, cauliflower and kale have become a regular part of my diet instead of the occasional experimental recipe. Incorporating ginger and turmeric into your food or smoothies is a great idea as they help to prevent insulin resistance and effectively help to balance your blood sugar levels. I have included coconut in meals and instead of chocolate I have dabbled with cacao and other tasty treats such as cacao and sweet potato mousse.
You are now wondering how long those cravings will last, well for me I would say only a week, since then I have been able to walk past the biscuit barrel or one of Poppy's half eaten chocolate bars and not feel the undeniable urge to dive right in or pinch a chunk when she is not looking. Don't get me wrong I have had the odd chocolate bar usually a single timeout finger but in twelve weeks I would say three bars and one chocolate bunny (small) that I had for easter.
If you are training make sure you are fuelling enough!! Another problem we (Amy Desborough - Eat Well Feel Well Nutrition and I) discovered was that I was seriously underfuelling for the training I was doing so no wonder there were sugar cravings. I have now made those subtle adjustments to my diet to increase the complex carbohydrates and fibre to the diet slowing down the release of the sugars from the foods and enabling my body to absorb the additional nutrients. I seem to be eating loads and the initial fear of weight gain was quashed, over the course of the first 6 weeks my weight remained the same and now 12 weeks later and still working on getting extra food in, my weight is dropping with a 4 - 5 pound reduction in weight and about half an inch lost from my thighs!! Wowzers.
If you want any advice you can talk to me or contact Amy Desborough at Eat Well Feel Well Nutrition