Whether it’s chocolate at Easter, sweets at Halloween or cake because it’s Friday and hey, it’s been a long week, sugar is hard to resist. It’s in your hot drinks, your breakfast cereal and your cooking sauces. It’s in your salad dressings, it’s in your low-fat desserts and it’s certainly in your fruit juice. No matter how good your intentions, there’s no getting away from it – sugar is hard to avoid.
The dangers of consuming excess sugar are well documented, and they aren’t just limited to weight gain and diabetes. Sugar consumption has also been linked with anxiety, depression and a whole range of psychological issues. Cutting back on the sweet stuff will not only do your waistline a favour – it’ll also work wonders for your mood, energy levels and mental health. But before you can kick your sugar habit, first you have to learn where it lurks…
Know your enemy
While some sources of sugar are obvious – fizzy drinks, chocolate and alcohol – others contain ‘secret sugar’. This includes foods masquerading as healthy options that on closer inspection are anything but. Breakfast cereals, granola, salad dressings and pasta sauces are among the culprits whose sugar content may render them unsuitable as dietary staples. To avoid loading your larder with secret sugar, check the label before you buy; if a savoury food contains more than 5% sugar, it’s generally best left on the supermarket shelf.
Make breakfast count
Your first meal of the day is also your most important. Take the time to eat a healthy breakfast before setting off for work. In doing so, you’ll stabilise your blood sugar levels, reducing those mid-morning cravings that are usually settled by reaching for a chocolate bar. A breakfast that is low in sugar and rich in good carbohydrates should sustain you right through till lunchtime.
Cut it, don’t kill it
Cutting back on sugar doesn’t mean eliminating it altogether. If your favourite cereal turns out to be packing saccharine, switch to a different brand with lower sugar content. Swap fruit juice for flavoured water and replace sweetened porridge with unsweetened oatmeal. If you’re craving a little extra flavour, try sprinkling cinnamon on top or adding a dash of whey protein. Half a scoop of Healthy Whey will liven up your breakfast without piling on the calories.
Wage war on cravings
When we’re stressed, we tend to eat more – and it’s rarely healthy options we reach for. One of the best ways to combat excess stress – and the sweet cravings it prompts – is by exercising. In addition to burning calories, exercise has been shown to lower cortisol levels, improve sleep and ward off cravings. For an energising routine you can perform without equipment, try Adrian James High Intensity Interval Training. Everything seems sweeter after a good workout.
When it comes to cutting sugar, small changes can quickly add up. Eliminate sources of secret sugar, make sweets treats rather than daily indulgences – and not only will you improve your physical health, but you’ll also boost your mood. After dialing in the sweet stuff, fresh foods will start to taste better and unhealthy cravings will become less frequent. Don’t let sugar boss you around – conquer it and take control of your health and happiness.