If you’ve already joined me in my ‘kicking sugar for Lent 2014 challenge’, then you’ll know that sugar has long been my nemesis! Today I wanted to share SEVEN food-related tips that I have recently found invaluable.
SWEET BEGINNINGS – In common most of my clients, my rocky relationship with sugar dates back to early childhood. I was a picky eater and my parents bribed me with promises of pudding to cajole me into eating sensible stuff. Reluctantly I would swallow down the minimum required mouthfuls to earn me my prized reward of chocolate Angel Delight (it was the 1970s!).
Sweet things were regarded as ‘treats’ in our household and were strictly controlled. During the week, my brother and I were allowed one small sweet after lunch – a fruit pastille, a wine gum, or my favourite – one sherbet lemon. At weekends, mum would carefully divide up the ‘weekend treat’ – usually a Mars bar (shared between 5 of us) or some other sweet, milky chocolate delight while we sat around the lunch table watching with hawk-eyes, making sure we thought the divisions fair.
SUGAR WAS ‘NAUGHTY’ – Mum was pretty savvy about food and knew that too much sugar was not a good thing. She had been plagued by hypoglycaemia (low blood sugar) since her 20s and had had to learn how to manage her blood sugar well in order to avoid fainting unexpectedly. She was anxious to teach me to do the same as I showed signs of similar tendencies. But her restrictions on sugar just seemed to make me want more and more.
Such was my love affair with sugar, it was not unusual for me to wake up in the middle of the night and creep downstairs to raid the biscuit tin. If I went to a friend’s party, I learned to “make the most of it” and gobbled up so much that I returned home with an aching belly and feeling positively sick. At Easter, my chocolate eggs didn’t last the morning. I learned to binge. Quickly and quietly as I knew I was being ’naughty’.
LEARNING MY LESSONS – Developing a mature, responsible, grown up relationship with food has been a slow process. I was so busy kicking against the strict rules we’d had about sugar, that it took me years to realise that actually mum was right! Too much sugar made me feel horrible and yes, I too was liable to get sudden, unanticipated blood sugar lows that made me shaky, irrational and often grumpy and tearful.
So once the penny dropped that sugar was not good for me, it should have been simple – right?
“Knowing” and “Doing” are totally different games. Yes there would be periods when I was being “good” but they were inevitably followed by periods of falling off the wagon and bingeing. I would, of course, feel terribly guilty and would fervently promise myself that I would hop right back onto that wagon …. but maybe tomorrow…. or after the weekend …. or after this deadline. There was always an excuse at the ready.
DOING SOMETHING DIFFERENT – I now realise that the problem was that I was relying on willpower, which can only tide you through for a limited period of time.
You will ALWAYS slip up eventually and often these slips provide a great excuse for giving up and bingeing.
It took me a long time to work out alternative strategies that don’t rely on iron resolve. Along the way I have gathered quite a stock of helpful tips and practices. I plan to share these as widely as I can, starting with these blogs. Next month I will be opening the doors to an exciting new group coaching programme that will focus purely on cravings. More to follow – so keep an eye out for updates if you’re interested.
So back to the main purpose of this post. Not everyone is prone to sugar cravings (and this can be for a variety of reasons but thats a whole other blog post – understanding your cravings), but if you are, here are SEVEN easy, practical steps you can take to help you to control them.
TIP #1: Reduce or eliminate caffeine. The ups and downs of caffeine include dehydration and blood sugar swings, causing sugar cravings to be more frequent.
TIP #2 Drink water. Sometimes sweet cravings are a sign of dehydration. Before you go for the sugar, have a glass of water and then wait a few minutes to see what happens.
TIP #3 Eat sweet vegetables and fruit. They are sweet, healthy and delicious. The more you eat, the less you’ll crave sugar.
TIP #4 Use gentle sweeteners. Avoid chemical, artificial sweeteners and foods with added sugar. Use gentle sweeteners like maple syrup, honey, dried fruit or stevia,
TIP #5 Evaluate the amount of animal food you eat. Eating too much meat can lead to cravings for sweets. So can eating too little! A good health coach will help you sort this out. Experiment. Respect your body’s individuality.
TIP #6 Eliminate fat-free or low-fat packaged snack-foods. These foods often contain high quantities of sugar, to compensate for lack of flavour and fat, which will send you on the roller-coaster ride of blood sugar highs and lows.
TIP #7 Experiment with spices. Coriander, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves and cardamom will naturally sweeten your foods and reduce cravings.
There is still time to join in with the ‘Kicking Sugar for Lent challenge’ if you are interested in significantly reducing sugar or cutting it out of your diet completely for a while, You can sign up for 10 daily emails (its all FREE!) – to help to inspire and motivate you. Click here to join the Facebook group.
If you feel you need more support around your relationship with food and cravings then you might like to book a one-to-one health strategy session with me. You can email me or call me on 023 92 631012.
Do you have any other tips about Cravings to share? Please comment below.