As some of you know, I have given up added sugar for Lent. Its not that I feel I need to lose any weight, but purely for 2 reasons - I hate the way it makes me feel - high for a short time before I feel tired and sluggish, and also I waste valuable calories on chemical c**p, instead of foods that are going to make me stronger, happier, more energetic, recover quicker and healthier. So seeing as I am only on day 2 and all I can think about is sugar (because I can't have it), I thought I'd write about it too .
So one of the reasons we become addicted to sugar is its taste. When our taste buds evolved, there was a limited supply of fruit, which was rare and hard to come across, therefore if our ancestors came across fruit and ate it, they were able to eat as much of it as they liked because it gave them energy and vital calories easily. So our taste buds like sugar. Now days, everywhere we turn, there is sugar - candy, chocolate, cakes, biscuits etc. Meanwhile, our taste buds remain unchanged, making us prone to overeating sugary foods. So what is the best way to beat a sugar addiction, if you have one - Go cold turkey. There is no reducing intake, cold turkey is the only way. Now I am not talking about fruit etc, but more manufactured added sugar. So as the sugar cravings kick in, I am busy thinking and researching ways to beat them and make the process less awful.
The first thing to look at is what feelings are identified with the urgency for sugar, as normally something has stirred those thoughts - stress, sadness, anger, tiredness, boredom, dissatisfaction. So before you reach for the sugary snack, think what emotion, thought or circumstance has recently occurred and try to deal with the emotions themselves first, because the sugary snack is just a delay - after it's worn off, the emotions are still there. Good examples are deep breathing, a good cry if everything has got too much, a run/cycle to release some aggression, etc. My favourites I feel will be pummelling the punch bag and my eldest daughter's favourite - shouting at the toilet, and I might, just might, listen to my iwatch when it tells me to breathe for the millionth time today (seems to sense when I need to )
Next is how to reduce the cravings.
Make sure you are consuming good levels of healthy fats and lean proteins, so a thumb sized amount of fat with every meal, and a fistful of protein. Don't skip your complex carbohydrates, we need them to function, sleep well and think.
Look at adding magnesium, chorium and zinc rich foods, such as dark leafy greens, nuts, brown rice, broccoli, sweet potatoes, apples, whole grains, eggs and oysters
Spice up your meals with cinnamon, nutmeg and cardamom as they will help satisfy the need for a sweet taste, whilst regulating your blood sugar levels and reducing your sugar cravings.
Try and reduce your levels of processed foods as they have hidden sugar. Processed sweeteners have also been shown to have an bad effect on our blood sugar levels (but natural sweeteners are more reliable such as Xylitol and Erthritol as they have no effect on our blood sugar levels and even offer some health benefits)
Get more sleep and exercise. Tiredness will lead to cravings, so prioritise your sleep. Exercise will also help tackle the cravings and makes you less likely to reach for something sweet after a session
So if you are tackling your sugar cravings this Lent - good luck