Health and fitness tips to make the most of your sober month!
Managing Sugar Cravings This Sober October
By Peter Rule on
We all seek the taste of sweet foods naturally in our diet, however it can be easy to crave excess high sugar foods for many varied reasons.
We have 5 basic recognised tastes – sweet, sour, bitter, salty and umami (savoury) however we can become imbalanced in our food choices due to stress, low energy, eating on the run, looking for psychological reward or treat or nutritional deficiencies, just to name a few.
Refined sugar is addictive due to the release of dopamine from the brain. Dopamine is one of the principal neurotransmitters involved in creating substance dependence on things like alcohol. The excess dopamine that is produced gives rise to powerful feelings of pleasure; however these excess levels also take a long-term toll on brain chemistry and promote substance dependency (like sugar cravings) which can contribute to obesity, type two diabetes and nutritional deficiencies.
The following habits can cause imbalances and sugar cravings to occur:
- Missing breakfast
- Added sugar in breakfast cereals
- Lack of protein and/or excessive complex carbohydrates during meals
- Dependence on alcohol, consuming 1-3 units per night
- Coffee and tea with sugar or chocolate (45-50% refined sugar) mid-afternoon or after dinner
If some (or all!) of these eating practices sound like yours, keep reading for 10 tips to help regain your balance.
Top 10 healthy tips to manage sugar cravings
- Eat breakfast, lunch and dinner more slowly, with small healthy snacks in between if hungry
- For breakfast, enjoy protein rich foods such as eggs, yogurt, chia seeds or muesli with nuts
- For lunch and dinner, fill your plate with healthy foods, low in carbohydrates (vegetables and salads) along with a palm sized portion of lean protein (fish, chicken, lean meat, eggs, tempeh or legumes)
- Before reaching for chocolate when you need a pick me up snack, try a small handful of raw nuts and seeds with a few raisins for sweetness, hummus with vegie sticks or a small tub of yogurt
- Eat a variety of whole real foods with good fibre to increase consumption of nutrients, the feeling of fullness and to improve metabolism
- Cravings can sometimes be caused by slight dehydration so make sure to drink plenty of water throughout your day
- Add some cinnamon to your cooking or tea. Cinnamon is excellent for insulin efficiency and used for treatment of Diabetes, metabolic syndrome X and insulin resistance
- Try Licorice tea, as it has a sweet taste and is an adrenal tonic which is helpful for low energy levels
- Eat fermented foods such as sauerkraut, kimchi, kombucha, kefir or probiotic foods which provide beneficial bacteria to the gut and can assist in reducing sugar cravings
- If stressed – practice deep abdominal breathing, become mindful of stress related eating habits and distract self with a walk, get out into fresh air, drink water or talk to someone