With chocolate glaring at you every which way you turn, the temptation to overindulge in naughty, sugar-laden treats this Easter is probably at its highest.
To keep your healthy eating regime on track, it’s important to understand that a craving is not the same as hunger.
A craving is not your body calling for energy, it is the brain calling for something that releases high quantities of dopamine in the body.
Dopamine is in charge of our pleasure-reward system and allows us to have feelings of enjoyment, bliss and euphoria. Some of the most common cravings are linked to snacks like chocolate and cakes which contain a lot of sugar, and result in a massive amount of dopamine being released.
If you feel you’re at your wits end and desperate for sugar all the time, give these tricks a go to see if they stop those sugar cravings in their tracks:
1. Eat a little and often
When you skip a meal or refrain from eating, sooner or later you will get so hungry you will end up overeating or reaching for quick high sugar fix - usually something sweet.
Instead, aim for three meals and two snacks spread out throughout the day. Try to ensure you eat a good quality protein source with each meal or snack to help you feel fuller for longer. A good snack to have on hand for those mid-morning or mid-afternoon blood sugar dips is a handful of almonds.
2. Drink plenty of water
Sometimes we confuse hunger with thirst, so whenever you think you may be hungry, try drinking a glass of water and waiting 15 minutes.
If this satisfies you, you were just thirsty. If you still feel your stomach grumbling, you're probably hungry. Try to drink 6-8 glasses of water every day, and if you’re feeling bored of water, try mixing it up with a slice of fruit or cucumber, or herbal teas.
3. Skip processed foods
These include convenience foods such as ready meals, meat products such as bacon and sausages and snacks such as crisps and biscuits. These foods often contain added salt, sugar and fat and are high in calories. Instead, consume plenty of fibrous colourful vegetables, which will provide you with more energising nutrients and less of a sugar dip later.
4. Distract yourself
Rather than sitting slumped in front of the TV, do something to distract yourself from the cravings.
Easter crafts are a fun way to while away the time or get out into the great outdoors and exercise, which will release those happy-chemicals endorphins and make you forget all about the six-pack of Cadbury’s Crème Eggs you’ve got in the cupboard.
5. Reach for the wholegrains
Complex carbohydrates like wholegrain breads, pasta, brown rice, whole oats and quinoa are rich in fibre, helping to slow the absorption of sugar into the bloodstream and preventing the sharp spike in blood sugar levels.
Avoid refined 'white' carbohydrates such as white bread, cakes, biscuits and sugary breakfast cereals as these foods will only give you a short pick-me-up, before the sugar crash sets in.
6. Try supplements
Some natural food supplements, like Lepicol Lighter, can help to reduce sugar cravings and suppress your appetite.
How do you beat sugar cravings? Tell us in the Comments box below.