WHAT I LEARNED FROM BEING A SUGAR JUNKIE

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I think everyone can all relate to sugar cravings at some point in their lives. I have had my fair share of sugar cravings when I was younger. My diet was really bad and I was eating way too much sugar and cakes and biscuits. I would eat my breakfast cereal and wonder why I was hungry again an hour later!

I thought that if I ate low fat products that it would be better for me and help with weight loss. I found out later that that was not the case at all and it wasn’t doing my health any good by reducing my fat intake too much. I realised that having too much refined sugar in my diet was making me more hungry.

Sugar gives us a high and then it can come crashing down low. It can lead to serious diseases. Sugar goes to the brain, blood cells and muscles to be used for energy. If you don’t use what you consume then this is stored away as fat. If you consume too much sugar, this can cause moods and anxious feelings.

Sugar can be classed as a “bliss food” and is associated as a pleasure. The more you eat it, the more you want it. This is because sugar is addictive and it gives you a high and makes you feel good, it triggers the neurotransmitters in your brain that make you feel good.

The problem with sugar is that it does not contain protein, fibre or fat. Fibre will help to create a healthy digestion and enables you to have regular bowel movements. Fat is needed for mental alertness, cushioning of our cells and organs and helps to process fat soluble vitamins A, D, E and K. Protein is needed for growth and repair, to produce enzymes, neurotransmitters and hormones.

Sugar has no nutritional value at all.

Sugar cravings can be created if your body is not balanced out and your diet is lacking nutrients to keep sugar cravings away. If you eat a diet with less processed foods, if you eat protein and some healthy fat with every meal, you can keep your sugar cravings under control because your body will be more in balance and will feel more satisfied.

Sugar is in so many foods, not just in cakes and biscuits, it is also found in bottled sauces, dried fruit, fruit juices, bottled condiments and even in shop bought meals.

I started to get into the habit of reading the ingredients list of products I was buying. It soon became apparent that the foods I was eating contained too much sugar. When I added it all up I was shocked.

Did you know that there are up to 61 names for sugar! Yes I was surprised too.

Here are some names for sugar that you might recognise — glucose syrup, sucrose, fructose, maple sugar, brown sugar, cane sugar, Demerara sugar, barley malt, agave nectar, date syrup, golden syrup

Women’s health magazine compiled a list of 56 names for sugar.

Life is a system of opposites and the body is always balancing itself out. It will crave sweet or salty foods. Your body is constantly balancing other things such as body fluids, potassium and sodium levels, blood sugar and blood pressure all day long.

There are things that you are doing that can cause an imbalance in the body such as working out too much, partying, stress and working too hard. These can all create a need for more sugar to counteract the stress. This can lead to binge eating and other disorders around food and the way you look at food. When your body is out of balance, it is asking you to take a break.

Let’s look at some ways you can reduce these stressors. Why not go for a walk, do some yoga, meditate, sit quietly and do some deep breathing or take a magnesium salt bath.

Just by paying more attention to how you breathe can make a huge difference to stress levels. You can sometimes be breathing too shallow and not getting the full benefits of a deep breath. These can all help to balance out the body and mind.

Take a look at your lifestyle, the food you eat and your feelings around food. A journal can help with your feelings around food and your lifestyle. Life is busy and sometimes you are not paying enough attention to what you are eating and how you are managing your stress levels. Write down what you eat and how you are feeling on a day to day basis for one week. At the end of the week take a look at how this has gone and identify how you can change those habits and change those feelings around. Be more mindful before you put something into your mouth. Ask yourself a few questions such as “will this food nourish my body”, “will this food make me feel happy”, or will this food satisfy my hunger”.

There are two types of eating — mindful eating and mindless eating. Mindless eating is when you eat without paying attention. You are distracting yourself with either an activity such as watching TV, writing, reading, using your mobile phone, using your computer etc. If this is happening, stop what you are doing, take in a few deep breaths and look at what you are eating, chew your food slowly and really pay attention to how the food tastes. This is mindful eating and it will make you more aware of what you are eating, when you are feeling satisfied and want to stop eating. You can so easily overeat when you are not mindful of what you are eating. How many times have you opened up a packet of biscuits or a large packet of crisps and ate them while being distracted only to find that the packet of biscuits is empty or the crisp packet is empty. I bet you have done this on more than one occasion. I know that I have!

No-one wants to give up sugar completely. I think you will relate to feeling a bit miserable at the thought of not being able to eat chocolate ever again or a slice of chocolate cake. There are ways that you can still enjoy chocolate or chocolate cake that is healthy and will not cause an imbalance but keep you feeling satisfied, not deprived and feeling happy.

I love to make these chocolate balls when I want a sweet treat. Have a go at making them yourself and tell me what you think.

CHOCOLATE NUT BUTTER BALLS

INGREDIENTS

6 tbsp Nut Butter of your choice such as Almond

4 tbsp Raw Cacao Powder

2 tbsp Coconut Oil

1 tbsp ground Flaxseeds, Chia Seeds or Almond Meal

1 tbsp Raw Honey or Maple Syrup

Pinch of sea salt

Optional Add ins — raisins, chopped dark chocolate, goji berries or other chopped dried fruit, orange peel

INSTRUCTIONS

Combine all ingredients in a large bowl. Mix together well. Add 1 tbsp of cold water (or more) if needed so you get a good sticky dough consistency but not too wet. Take some dough and roll into little balls. You could roll each ball in more cacao powder or grated coconut. Place them onto a baking sheet lined with baking paper. Put into the fridge or freezer to harden. Store in a suitable container and keep in the fridge.

Thank you for reading.

Andrea Howard

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