A few ideas to help you crack the sugar habit

After the sugar rush of Easter eggs and chocolate bunnies, have you had enough, or has last weekend’s binge set you off on a rollercoaster of craving more sweet stuff? This blog looks at ways to help you crack the sugar habit.

For many people of course, Easter marks the end of Lent when we eliminate unhealthy foods in a quest for spiritual health, or at least to prove to ourselves that we can.

Although I don’t think that lockdown is a time for dieting and restrictions, neither is it a time to binge on sugar and junk food. Right now, we need as much good nutrition and nourishing food as we can get into us, to help support our immunity and keep us as healthy we can possibly be.

We know that sugar has a negative impact on our weight, but it also affects how well our immune system functions, with some reports suggesting that our immunity is weakened for up to seven hours after consuming sugary foods and drinks. That’s not to mention the impact it has on our energy levels, mood and hormones.

So if you are craving too much of the white stuff, I have a few ideas to help you crack the habit.

Add some healthier snacks to your shopping list

We are being encouraged to shop just once a week, so being organised is essential. When you are doing your weekly meal plan, or making your shopping list, think about what you could buy that would make a good alternative to your usual sugary snack.

For example, if you can’t get enough of Cadbury’s and Nestle, then take a closer look at the labels and you are likely to find that your favourite chocolate bar contains around 60g sugar per 100g (anything above 22g is high).

Now take a look at a pack of digestive biscuits and you’ll find the chocolate ones contain around 29g sugar per 100g and the plain ones have 16g per 100g, so why not ditch the chocolate bars and buy some digestives instead?

Healthier Snacks

If you want to go one step further and really cut back on your sugar intake, then try some of these healthier alternatives.

  • 70-85 per cent chocolate tends to contain less sugar, so stock up on this. Most people tend to binge less on dark chocolate.
  • Two or three dates with a small handful of brazil nuts.
  • – Two oatcakes with Meridian or Whole Earth cocoa and hazelnut butter (it’s like a healthy alternative to Nutella!)
  • Yoghurt and berries – try it topped with some of that dark chocolate grated over the top.
  • Chopped apple with sugar-free peanut butter.
  • Or try my Carrot Cake Energy Balls – see recipe below – as a healthy wee treat. They are simple to make and taste great.

Supplements to help

Sometimes I recommend to my clients that they take a supplement to help take the edge off sugar cravings. Even taken for a few weeks, this can help crack the habit and make it easier to cut sugar back.

Chromium can be useful as it is an important mineral that contributes to the maintenance of normal blood glucose levels, but I find using it as a combination in supplement with some cinnamon, magnesium and B vitamins can be effective. Higher Nature Metabolic Balance is a good option.

Jane’s Carrot Cake Energy Balls

  • 1 small carrot, finely grated
  • 100g dates (without stones)
  • 150g cashew nuts
  • 40g oats
  • zest of 1 large orange
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp ground ginger
  • grated nutmeg

Method

Place all the ingredients in a food processor until well mixed and the ingredients start to stick together slightly. Roll the mixture into bite-size balls – about a teaspoonful for each ball.

This blog post first appeared as my column in The Irish News on Saturday 18 April 2020.