Cutting back on sugar is a big part of the Tweak Diet so if you’re having problems we asked Dr John Briffa a leading nutritionist and medical doctor for help to stop sweet cravings…It’s our second last tweak of the series *sad face*
Briffa says: ‘Your lunch could be to blame for that 4pm drive to inhale that strawberry sponge, cupcake or Yorkie bar. Low blood sugar is a likely cause of sweet cravings,’ he says. ‘When someone eats, their body releases sugar into the blood stream and the pancreas secretes the hormone insulin whose function it is to take the sugar out of the blood stream and into the body’s cells where it can be used for fuel. But refined starches such as breads, pasta, wraps, bagels, baguettes and cereals, typical lunch foods, along with crisps or sweet drinks like smoothies and juices make insulin levels soar quickly and then drop again fast to levels even lower than before you ate.
‘That means strong cravings for fast glucose to refuel the blood a couple of hours later. This reactive hypoglycaemia is common and can come with fatigue, fogginess, mood swings and anxiety. Some people think they’re having a panic attack when it’s low blood sugar. In some sensitive people, this crash can even happen before the end of a meal containing grains and refined carbohydrates which is why people often crave sugar after eating’.
Here are 6 easy things that can help stop sugar cravings fast
Chromium Helps stabilise blood sugar levels to prevent cravings. ‘Take 200 milligrams of a form called Chromium GTF – stands for Glucose Tolerance Factor – each day,’ says Dr John Briffa. Higher Nature Chromium £6.95
L-glutamine Appears to fuel the brain to help prevent 4pm fogginess. Opt for the powder form, advises Briffa and add 1-2 teaspoons to your litre bottle of water and sip through the day. Solgar L-Glutamine £8.89
Cinnamon Keeps blood sugar even and great added to yoghurt or smoothies at breakfast.
Don’t skip meals Protein such as eggs, full fat yoghurt, poultry, fish, pulses, beans, tofu or lean meats eaten with fats such as nuts, olives, seeds, olive, flaxseed and nut oils and avocados along with vegetables provide a steadier fuel to the brain than sugar and refined carbohydrates.
A mid-afternoon snack with protein and healthy fats such as a handful of Brazil nuts or almonds (avoid cashews as they’re high in sugar) keeps sugar cravings at bay.
Run up the stairs Just five minutes brisk walking or stairclimbing raises blood sugar naturally by encouraging the liver to release its glycogen (glucose) stores into the bloodstream.
‘Take it from us former sugar junkies the less sugar and grainy foods such as rice, pasta and bread you eat the less you crave. Your tastes quickly adapt and prioritizing protein, good fats, vegetables and low sugar fruits such as berries, apples and pears in your diet will quickly re-train your tastebuds. Cut out sugars, flour and carbohydrates from your diet in favour of these lean proteins, vegetables, beans and pulses, fruits and add moderate exercise such as 15-60 minutes 5-7 days a week to keep your mood up (especially if like us, you self-medicate the first hint of a low mood with a Galaxy bar comfort hit). Withdrawals from sugar and grainy products like breads, rice and pasta, which behave just like sugar in the body, could include cravings, headaches, low energy, irritability and even jitters and night sweats. The worst of them subside after about a week but they could come and go for about six weeks before the lights come on, your energy increases and sweet things start to feel ‘too sweet’. That’s when you’ll feel better and is usually what makes people want to continue. Once you’ve broken the sugar habit, see sweet stuff as an occasional indulgence and opt for a little bit of the best stuff you can get. Remember too, the crash that will come if you do indulge – is it worth it? Well, that crash will be worse if you have your sugar hit on an empty stomach so if you really want that hit, eat something protein-based before then enjoy.
Got a favourite diet tweak you wouldn’t be without? Tell us in the comments
More posts in Healthista’s January Daily Tweak Diet
Dr John Briffa is the author of
Escape the Diet Trap (Fourth Estate £14.99)
Like this article? Sign up to our newsletter to get more articles like this delivered straight to your inbox.