We all know sugar is bad for us. In recent years it’s become public enemy number one, and most people have tried to cut down. Studies have shown sugar is linked to obesity, diabetes and abnormal brain functions. It ages our skin and – perhaps worst of all – is totally addictive.
So cutting down is extremely hard.
The less you eat, the less you crave, but if you’re trying to kick the habit you may find you get very real withdrawal symptoms.
But what can you eat to satisfy your cravings without sabotaging your efforts?
According to I Quit Sugar, the Australian company that encourages people to, well, quit sugar, there are some naturally sweet foods that’ll help you stay on the bandwagon.
Despite the fact that it’s high in saturated fat, coconut oil can be an effective way to curb sugar cravings. “After lunch I still get sweet, ‘I need something more’ cravings,” Sarah Wilson, IQS founder, says.
“So this is my fail-proof trick. I eat two tablespoons of coconut oil. It satisfies my need for something sweet and KILLS appetite for about four to five hours.”
Obviously not one for those of us who hate aniseed, but liquorice tea – or any naturally sweet tea – can give your body the taste of your favourite childhood sweets without any of the sugar or calories.
It’s in the name, really. Everyone knows sweet potatoes are delicious, and the natural sweetness will satisfy your cravings. They count as one of your five-a-day too. Try cutting into wedges, drizzling with coconut oil and sprinkling with cinnamon and smoked paprika before roasting for a savoury sweet treat.
Full of filling fibre and crisp, natural sweetness, carrots aren’t exactly cupcakes but they’re sweeter than most veggies. IQS recommend always having carrot sticks chopped and ready to go in the fridge for when the craving strikes. Dipping in hummus or guacamole is, obviously, a good idea.
If you’ve got a fizzy drink habit, giving them up can be hard. Considering diet drinks are increasingly shown to be bad for you, it’s advisable to give them a miss too. So what can you drink? IQS recommend kombucha, the fermented, lightly effervescent drink du jour. Just make sure it’s a low-sugar brand (preferably around 1g of sugar per 100ml).
The natural nut butter market has exploded in recent years and we’re now completely spoilt for choice when it comes to sugar-free nutty spreads. Nuts have a natural sweetness – especially almonds and cashews – and as they’re full of healthy fats and protein, they’ll keep you full up too.
85% dark chocolate
Dark chocolate has been shown to have various health benefits, and IQS reports there’s nothing wrong with good quality cacao when you’re trying to reduce your sugar intake. There’s just over a teaspoon of sugar in 100g of 85% per cent dark chocolate, and as it’s so rich, you won’t want to eat too much anyway. If you don’t find it too bitter, go one step further and try 90% per cent.