By GMB Advisor, Nutritionist Melissa Fine
1. Have a cuppa
There’s something about the ritual of having a cup of tea; Not something you can down in a second, it encourages us to sit down and slow down. Sipping on a sweet herbal tea infusion is also a great way to curb a sweet tooth, because it feels like you’re having ‘something’ after dinner, but it’s kilojoule and sugar free.
Look for blends like Higher Living’s organic Licorice tea – You’d be surprised at how sweet licorice root tastes; Even the super sweet-toothed wouldn’t feel the need to add sugar. Or, if chocolate’s more your thing, try a cocoa tea – It’s like a bottomless cup of drinkable dark chocolate…Lasts longer than a piece of chocolate too!
2. Cut down on packaged foods
Things like tomato sauce, bottled salad dressings, marinades and commercial yoghurts often have more sugar than you’d realise, encouraging us to develop more and more of a taste for sweet things, even in savoury dishes. Small changes like making your own salad dressing (My favourite is a TBS of 100% tahini with a big squeeze of lemon juice) and choosing unsweetened Greek yoghurt (top with cinnamon for sweetness) can make a big difference.
3. Sip on something savoury
I love a cup of instant miso soup with a meal or as a snack – Umami in flavour, it’s super savoury, salty and satisfying, so you may no longer feel the need for something sweet. I find green tea has a similar effect. If you’re not a fan of green tea’s astringency, try it in a chai infusion – It’s spicy and smooth and also gives you a bit of a pick-me-up thanks to its caffeine content, but in a gentler dose than coffee.
4. Brush your teeth
That cake that’s calling your name from your fridge suddenly loses appeal when you have a toothpaste aftertaste. Brushing your teeth after dinner also makes you register that you’re done eating for the day.
5. Eat some dark chocolate
I’m talking about chocolate with a cacao or cocoa content of at least 85%. Rich and bittersweet, I find it really satisfies a sweet craving – A couple of squares does the trick and also marks the end of a meal…The same doesn’t go for commercial milk chocolate, which is so sugar-laden that once you start with it it’s hard to stop.
Sometimes thirst can be mistaken for hunger. Being thirsty can make you irritable too, and more likely to go for that cake that’s going round the office. Next time you’re craving something sweet, drink a glass of water and wait 20 minutes – You may just find that your craving has subsided.
7. Look at your protein intake
Because protein helps stabilise our blood sugar, a lack of protein with your main meals and snacks may leave you feeling dissatisfied and reaching for sugar-filled pick-me-up. Try a couple of eggs or a good quality protein shake at brekkie, and with lunch and dinner, a serve of protein (like salmon, chicken or tofu) that’s the size and thickness of your palm.
8. Get some shut-eye
Ever find your sugar cravings are through the roof after a bad night’s sleep? Lack of sleep can increase the amount of the hunger hormone, ghrelin. The quality of your sleep is just as important as getting seven-eight hours of shut-eye a night; Going to bed and waking at a similar time each day, and dimming the lights and setting your iPhone to flight-mode an hour before bed can set you up for a better night’s sleep. Practices like these can help you to wake feeling rested, and not like you need a syrupy coffee and a muffin to get you going.
9. Don’t keep it in the house
Skip the confectionery aisle when you do the groceries – You’re more likely to want to dig into that family size chocolate block if it’s actually in your pantry. Keep some fresh fruit on the counter instead for a wholesome sweet fix. Treat yourself to a biscuit or slice of cake when you’re out and about at special occasions instead…Plus, dessert tastes better when you don’t eat it everyday!
Whether its yoga, meditation, breathing exercises or pilates, a routine that brings you back to your breath can help calm your nervous system, decreasing stress and the sugar cravings that tend to come with it.