How to outsmart your sweet tooth
Overcoming a sweet tooth is something many of us struggle with, especially as sugar can be addictive and we’re constantly surrounded by it. But if you’re looking to cut back on the sweet stuff, we’ve asked David Wiener, training and nutrition specialist at fitness app Freeletics, how to go about it…
1. Eat a Healthy Breakfast
A healthy breakfast can set the tone for nutritious food and meal choices all day long. Sugary breakfasts, like cereals, are high in carbohydrates and sugar and low in fibre, so will cause your blood sugar to spike and then quickly drop, which can lead to mid-morning cravings and snack attacks. You should aim to eat a breakfast that combines good carbs and fibre with some protein, such as poached eggs on wholegrain toast with a side of avocado.
2. Add Sweet Spices
Sweet spices can cure your sweet tooth and trick your body into thinking you’re eating sugar. Research has shown that cinnamon can help to reduce sugar cravings by controlling blood glucose levels. This also helps to minimise insulin spikes that result after an unbalanced meal, which typically lead to increased hunger and sugar consumption. Cinnamon is great in porridge and sprinkled on sliced apple. Cloves, ginseng and fenugreek are other sweet spices that can be used to control blood sugar and sugar cravings effectively.
3. Distract Yourself
A lot of the time cravings can be caused by boredom, anxiety, or other emotions. When you feel a craving for something sweet, find an activity that will distract you and take your mind off food. Sometimes it can be as easy as going for a brisk walk or taking a shower to make you forget completely about the ice-cream hidden at the back of the freezer.
4. Break Bad Habits
Many people don’t feel satisfied unless they finish their meal and have a dessert, even if they don’t feel hungry. In order to prevent sweet cravings in the first place – or to successfully manage them – it’s important to understand what’s causing your craving, and whether your craving is actually a habit. For example, your dinner might be high in salt, which could make you feel like you ‘have to have’ something sweet to create balance. If it’s likely to be a habit rather than a craving, come up with a solution to try and break it; it’s a process of training your mind and learning to navigate the challenges with new choices. For example, if you don’t feel content without having something sweet after dinner, then you could try brushing your teeth.
5. Drink plenty of water
Sometimes we confuse hunger with thirst, so whenever you think you may be peckish try drinking a glass of water and waiting 15 minutes. If this satisfies you, you were just thirsty. If you still feel your stomach grumbling, you’re probably hungry. Aim to drink 6-8 glasses of water every day – you could try mixing it up with a slice of fruit or cucumber, or herbal teas such as peppermint or green tea.
6. Eat little and often
When you skip a meal or refrain from eating, sooner or later you will get so hungry you will end up overeating or reaching for quick high sugar fix such as a chocolate bar. Instead, aim for three meals and two snacks spread out throughout the day. Try to ensure you consume a good quality protein source with each meal or snack to help you feel fuller for longer. A good snack to have on hand for those mid-morning or mid-afternoon blood sugar dips is a handful of almonds.
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