How To End Your Toxic Relationship With Sugar, According To Nutritionists

If it sounds confusing, try the food product bar code scanning app, YUKA, which Ross rates as a really useful way to quickly understand the sugar content of a product and whether it’s classed as healthy or unhealthy. “As a general gauge, look for products which have less than 5 grams per 100 grams,” she says.

As with any addictive substance, it can be difficult to eat sugar in moderation, so while some are able to cut down their intake, others may find it easier to give it up entirely. Wherever you land on this subject, the trick to reducing it is to replace it with “natural, vitamin and mineral-rich foods that can help satisfy the sweet taste,” says Stephenson. “Keep eating fruit and root vegetables, which are naturally sweet, and can also help increase your fibre and protein intake. Fiber and protein can help improve satiety and reduce hunger, which is important as you try to reduce sugar.”

Ross also suggests eating enough B vitamins “from foods like dark leafy greens, whole grains, eggs or nutritional yeast,” and adding in a B complex supplement to help support energy production. She also cites chromium and berberine as two minerals that can have positive effects on blood sugar regulation.

Be aware that withdrawal symptoms—such as headaches, anxiety and irritability—may affect you, so ensure you’re well hydrated and incorporating gentle movement into your days to boost your endorphins. Once you start reducing refined sugars from your daily diet, your blood sugar will become more balanced and you’ll find the energy dips—which often cause cravings and the need to refuel—start to disappear. Cravings will quickly start to diminish, so avoiding sugar will get easier and easier.

The moral of the tale

It doesn’t have to be the end of cake and sweet treats as you know them, it’s just time that we all question the way we currently eat and cook our food. Stephenson’s advice is clear: “We all need to pay extra attention to bread, cereals, bars and ‘snack’ foods,” she adds. “But generally, the more we cook at home, the more control we have over what we’re eating, so taking a step towards more freshly prepared meals using single ingredient foods is another great place to start.”

Healthy (and genuinely delicious) desserts can be easily made at home—check out Stephenson’s recipe for a mouthwatering mousse cake for proof. “You can make incredible desserts with raw cacao, avocado, dates or other natural ingredients, plus you can also make more traditional cakes, adding more fibre, protein and less sugar than normal by modifying the recipe,” she says. Other tasty sweet treats include homemade or low-sugar fruit sorbets, cinnamon-poached pears with unsweetened vanilla coconut yoghurt and nut-based slices, says Ross.

“If you do eat pudding out, try to minimize the impact it will have on your blood sugar by starting your meal with vegetables and a decent amount of protein,” advises Stephenson. Studies have also shown that going for a brisk walk afterwards can help blunt postprandial glucose spikes.

Even the most passionate sweet tooth can reduce their sugar intake—and trust me, it will make you feel better. As excess sugar exits your system, you’ll experience newfound joy in eating a tomato or some melon (both of which are naturally sweet), and begin to rediscover the beauty of flavour.

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