Why you should cut out refined sugars, and some wonderful ways to beat those sugar cravings

Why do we always love the ones that hurt us the most? No, I’m not talking about that gorgeous lothario you dated in high school, but a bad boy that you flirted with a little more recently; sugar.

You’ll be happy to know that sugar is a lot easier to cut from your life than your high school Romeo, and that doing so will be far less heart breaking. Literally.

What is refined sugar?

There are a number of different forms of sugar. Refined sugar comes from sugar cane and is found in food as glucose. Refined sugar is high in calories, has little nutritional value and does not fill you up, meaning not long after having it you are hungry again. Also not good for you are processed sweeteners such as high fructose corn syrup.

Your better alternative is natural sugar such as the fructose which is in whole fresh fruit and lactose which is in dairy. Natural sugars contain nutrients such as protein and fiber and fill you up.

Refined sugars frighteningly are hidden everywhere. You are probably very aware that soft drink, chocolate, cookies, donuts, cakes and even fruit juice are high in sugar, but you may not know that many of the products you thought were healthy or had little effect on you also contain lots of the sweet stuff. This includes:

Bread, especially white bread and hamburger buns

Condiments like mayonnaise, tomato sauce and salad dressings

Muesli and protein bars

Breakfast drinks

Muffins

Low fat yoghurt

Premade pressed juices or smoothies

Iced tea, energy drinks and flavoured water

Why is refined or processed sugar bad for you?

Unfortunately for so many reasons.

Diets that are high in sugar greatly increase our likelihood of obesity, which increases heart disease, high blood pressure and stroke, as well as a large number of cancers. The more refined your sugar sources, the quicker your body metabolizes it, which increases your blood sugar and your risk of diabetes. Additionally sugar has been shown to be highly addictive.

Psychologically, if you are used to a diet high in refined sugar, then you will have tricked your brain into thinking it needs it to be happy. When we have sugar, we feel a ‘high’, followed by a low that makes us want sugar again. We are tricked into thinking that we are sad, anxious, tired or worse, and that a little sugar will fix that. Then we have more sugar and feel better. The best thing we can do is ride out the craving and teach the brain to not need the high in the first place.

So do you have to cut out all sugar?

No, you can have a little bit, but make sure it’s in the right form.

Your body needs sugar, but only a certain amount. Your body uses sugar to make the energy you use each day. If you are not moving much then you don’t need very much sugar at all. Excess sugar converts then into insulin which raises your blood sugar levels or is converted into fat.

As much as you possibly can, it is better if you give yourself whole foods naturally occurring sugars which also contain vital vitamins, minerals and nutrients and keep you full for longer. Basically this will give you some sugar, but a lot less than if you were eating foods high in empty refined sugars.

With less sugar when your body runs out of energy it will start using body fat for fuel sooner, which can greatly increase weight loss. This is why it is basically better to eat less refined sugars and move more to shift any sugars you are consuming.

Natural sugars include:

Fresh fruit

Carbohydrate high vegetables such as potato, sweet potato and corn

Unsweetened dairy

Honey

Maple syrup

You don’t have to cut out all sugar, and a diet that completely denies you something that you really enjoy is harder to stick to than one that allows you the odd treat. So if you love sugar, choose your treats a bit more carefully, and you can fill those sugar cravings and still stay healthy.

How can you beat sugar cravings?

If you are craving sugar, then your body is lacking something. You can curb cravings in a number of ways, the best of these is to not diet to the point where you are hungry or missing nutritious food. Eat as much whole, natural and nourishing food as you can, including heaps of fresh fruit and vegetables, whole grains and healthy proteins and fats.

You can also beat sugar cravings by eating foods that are high in magnesium, chromium and zinc such as leafy greens, apples, sweet potatoes, avocadoes, nuts, seeds and again wholegrains.

Sugar cravings can also come from an emotional place inside you, rather than from your stomach. If you feel like you are craving sugar it may be more about your mood, in which case this ‘craving’ can be met by some other kind of soothing reward, such as reading a new magazine, having a bath or pedicure, chatting to a friend or watching some trashy TV.

Some great treats if you are having sugar cravings include:

A handful of dried fruit, nuts and dark chocolate chips

A teaspoon of coconut oil

Wholegrain crispbread with natural peanut butter and sliced apple or pear

Bliss balls made from chopped dates, cacao powder, dessicated coconut and rolled oats (for this and other recipes see link below)

Rice cakes with honey and sliced banana and chia seeds

Cinnamon and nutmeg sprinkled on anything. This really makes you think you are eating apple pies or donuts; try it on oatmeal or plain yoghurt

Sweet potato toast (again for awesome recipes see below)

Fruit or fruit-flavoured green tea

Talk to the team at Eric’s

At Eric’s we stock a big variety of healthy alternatives to sugar, that will fill those cravings and are good for you at the same time. Check out our range of organic fruit and vegetables, and our super ingredients such as cacao powder, natural nut butters, chia seeds and coconut oil.

Talk to the expert team today about how they beat their sugar cravings and still have tons of energy to run our store. You may even get some awesome healthy recipe tips to try!

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