Sugar cravings are a common complaint I hear, especially when trying to eat healthier and feel more energised! Research has shown refined sugar is addictive and when we consume excess refined sugar it results in the release of endorphins, which make us feel good and send us straight back to the lolly jar! If we continually give in to the pull of sugar, it trains our body to be on the look out for the feel good effects of sugar and makes it all the more difficult to say no!
My top tips for reducing refined sugar intake include:
- Do a stocktake of current refined sugar intake: you may be surprised how much sugar you are actually consuming. This includes keeping a food diary and reading labels looking for added sugar. From here, you can slowly reduce sugar intake and swap refined sugar foods for better choices.
- Eat protein at each meal and snack: protein is important for satiety and preventing an energy slump at 3pm. Some healthy examples of protein include eggs, dairy, legumes/lentils, raw nuts/seeds, lean meat, chicken, fish and tofu.
- Eat Regularly: similar to protein, eating regularly is an effective way of preventing dips in blood sugar. When our blood sugar is low our body looks out for a quick source of energy, which as you can only imagine, is sugar! If you do not have the time nor preference for eating regularly make instead opt for 3 larger meals, make sure such meals contain a good source of complex carbs, lean protein and healthy fats to sustain you for long periods of time.
- Boost fibre intake: women need at least 25g/day and men 30g/day, but so few of us actually reach these targets. Starting your day with a fibre-rich porridge, adding legumes/lentils to meals, snacking on fresh fruit and vegetables and aiming for at least ½ plate vegetables/salad at meals are ways to assist in reaching your target.
- Add healthy fats to meals: healthy fats, similar to protein, help with making us feel more satisfied at meal times. Some healthy options to add to meals include avocado, extra virgin olive oil, nuts/seeds and tahini paste.
- Enjoy more magnesium and manganese containing foods: magnesium and manganese are two minerals supportive of glucose metabolism, food sources include: almonds, avocado, coconut, sunflower seeds, walnuts, leafy greens, legumes.
- Balance snacks: instead of having fruit on its own on as a snack or a fruit-based bar, try adding some natural yoghurt and raw nuts/seeds. Adding protein will help slow the rate at which sugar is released and help to better stabilise blood sugar levels.
- Find healthier alternatives: having alternative options on hand is really important, some ideas include dark chocolate and a cup of peppermint tea instead of a block of milk chocolate, apple with macadamia nut butter and a sprinkle or vanilla powder or a smoothie using banana and cinnamon!
Raw Nut Fruit Crumble
A simple breakfast, snack or dessert! Leftover crumble can be stored in the fridge for a few days.
Time 5 minutes
¼ punnet strawberries, quartered
½ cup papaya, cubed
¼ cup blueberries
½ cup walnuts
1 tbsp. almond meal
1-2 tsp. cacao or cocoa
1 tbsp. coconut oil, melted
1 tbsp. shredded coconut
1 tbsp. sunflower kernels
2-3 fresh dates, pip removed, chopped
Arrange the fruit in a bowl.
In a food processor combine the walnuts, dates and sunflower seeds, pulse until just crumbled, add almond meal, coconut and cacao, mix well, pour in coconut oil with motor running until mixture resembles a crumble mix. Spoon crumble mixture over the fruit.