What are the certain times of day you may crave sugar and how to overcome the cravings!

At this time of year it can be tempting to overload on sugar. Especially when you see big tins of chocolates on special at the supermarkets and willpower wanes over the holiday period. However, kicking the sugar habit can help you to stay on track during the holiday season and doesn’t mean you have to feel deprived. In fact having strong tasting, higher fat food will satisfy the craving. Don’t starve yourself as you’ll want to give into the craving even more. Protein is the most satiating macronutrient so having a snack like cheese & olives, Pepperoni stick, chicken leg or similar will give you a good dose of both fat & protein and will fill you up. Similarly, instead of a sugary drink, how about a fruity herbal tea or even a strong tasting tea like Liquorice or Rooibos; or a coffee made with cream.

So what are some of the ‘danger times’ when sugar cravings may hit?

You have a 3pm chocolate break!

OK, so this could be a sugary coffee at breakfast-time, or a late night sugar hit…whenever your sugar habit normally occurs, you can break it. Once you start to reduce sugar intake your blood sugar stabilises and cravings DO go away so even just one week of being sugar-free can make a difference. Replace your normal sugar habit with a healthy – tastier – food which will leave you genuinely satisfied or eat a little more at mealtimes so you’re less likely to feel hungry between meals. Studies have shown that it’s much easier to break a habit if you replace it with a new one. It can even be non-food related, so instead of a few chocolate biscuits in front of the TV in the evening, take a break from the TV and read a healthy living magazine.

You didn’t sleep and need some energy

It’s all too easy to reach for a Coke or a chocolate bar if you want an energy hit but think about the longer term consequences. Once that initial energy rush has subsided, your blood sugar levels crash and this is when you tend to be left feeling even more exhausted than you initially where! Plus you tend to crave even more sugar so it’s a vicious cycle. By all means have a snack if you’re hungry but make it a healthy choice or step outside and get some fresh air, or do some stretches – any of these will be more likely to boost your energy levels.

You need sugar for exercise

This just isn’t true and is actually impacting your performance long-term. You see, when your body’s metabolism switches to burning fat for energy you have thousands of calories worth of stored fat to burn – plus the fat you eat. When you burn carbs for energy, you have a few hundred calories worth. So, in fact, you’re more likely to hit the wall and burn out of energy sooner if you rely on regular sugar-hits to fuel workouts. Instead, reduce sugar, burn more fat and have better workouts!

You just like the taste of sugar!

Fair enough, it can seem impossible to give up when you have favourite foods that are high in sugar. So find some replacements that will help to replace these foods and; as stated above; cravings will go away once you’ve kicked the sugar habit. Check our recipes page for desserts to replace the high sugar foods you’d normally eat. Try making a courgette or cauliflower pizza – it honestly doesn’t taste like it’s made from vegetables! Instead of sugar in your tea or coffee, replace with sweetener and gradually reduce the amount you have. Don’t reach for a sugary chocolate bar but replace with an Atkins bar which has minimal sugar. Tastes DO change and; along with your changing tastes; you’ll get healthier, more energised, clearer skin and better mood! Surely all these benefits way outweigh a few seconds of eating sugary foods?

Posted by Linda O'Byrne
Atkins Nutritionist