"Cutting out sugar" seems easy in theory: you just stop eating biscuits and cake, and switch to...
12 Ways to Stop Sugar Cravings
Sugar cravings are a bitch.
Once they hit, it usually doesn't matter how much you force yourself to think of other things, your mind very quickly wanders back to how quickly you can make a beeline for the nearest block of chocolate.
But there are ways to tame your sugar monster – here are my top 12 tips.
1. Have a piece of fruit.
Yes fruit still has sugar in it, but it's bound up with water, fibre, nutrients and minerals. Apples, oranges, grapes (frozen grapes are the bomb), melon and kiwi fruit are sweet and satisfying. Bonus tip: dip apple wedges into 1-2 tablespoons of peanut butter for a more filling snack. Yum.
2. Make a cup of herbal tea.
Choose herbal teas flavoured with fruits and herbs that give a sweet taste. My favourite is the Pukka brand (the Lemon & Mandarin flavour is to die for.)
3. Eat a few squares of high quality dark chocolate.
Choose ones 80% and above, which aren't more-ish like milk chocolate (so you won't want to eat half the block at a time).
4. Make your own sweet treats.
Like Choc Peppermint Bliss Balls, Lime, Coconut & Pistachio Bliss Balls, 3-Ingredient Vegan Chocolate Mousse, Chia Puddings or my raw Choc Peanut Butter Slice. Then if you do indulge, at least it'll be with quality homemade food with nourishing ingredients.
5. Put it off.
Make a deal with yourself that you can eat whatever you want tomorrow, but just today you're going to skip the sugar. If you say that every day, tomorrow will never come and you'll avoid the sugary food!
6. Set up a positive mindset.
If you constantly think "oh I really want chocolate but I shouldn't, it's so hard not to eat", guess what – it'll be hard! But if you tell yourself positive affirmations, your brain will start to believe you. For example: "It's easy for me to go without sugar." "I choose to nourish myself with healthy food instead of sugary treats." "I love choosing healthy options." Say these or make up your own, and repeat as often as needed.
7. Look at your cravings more deeply.
Your sugary cravings could be a sign of something else. When a craving next hits, get a journal or piece of paper and write down your thoughts instead. What are you feeling? Is there something you're anxious about? Is there something you've been putting off that you're trying to forget about? What top 3 emotions are you going through right now? How do you really feel?
8. Distract yourself.
Do something fun or productive instead. Take a bath, clean out a messy drawer, call or text someone, or browse your favourite website. Sometimes cravings are just boredom.
9. Drink two glasses of water.
We often get cravings when we're hungry or thirsty. Drink a couple of glasses of water and see how you feel then. (Tip: If regular water seems boring, flavour it with slices of cucumber, mint leaves, a small handful of berries or fresh lemon wedges.)
10. Eat less sweet things.
The more we eat sweet foods, the more we crave them. Try to 'crowd out' your sweet cravings by reducing how much sugar you eat as much as possible. (See my best tips for that here.)
11. Eat more bitter things.
Adding more bitter foods to your diet helps blunt our palate to the sweeter tasting foods. The best way to do this is by eating more vegetables (see my tips here), particularly greens (like spinach, broccoli, kale and cabbage) instead of sweeter starchy veg (like carrots, beetroot, sweet potato and pumpkin).
12. Snack on fat.
Good fats, that is – put away the biscuits! Fat keeps us fuller for longer, meaning our blood sugar levels are more stable and it takes longer for your hormones that say "feed me, feed me!" to kick into overdrive. To do this, snack on raw nuts (my faves are macadamias and Brazil nuts), boiled eggs, coconut yoghurt and berries, homemade chia puddings or bliss balls, cheese (fried haloumi is life), half an avocado with sea salt sprinkled on top, or even just a tablespoon of coconut oil straight from the jar.
Action tip: Pick 2 or 3 of these that resonate with you most, and give them a go next time your sugar monster is lurking. Good luck!