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  • Food
  • How To Overcome Sugar Addiction

    16th February 2021

    16th February 2021

    By Shivraj Bassi

    Do you have a sweet tooth? Do you crave a little something-something sugary after you finish your evening meal? When you’re at a restaurant and are stuffed to bursting after your starter and main course, do you ask the waitstaff for the dessert menu before they’ve even cleared the plates? If so, you might be addicted to sugar. 

    We all love the sweet stuff. Whether your preferred poison is cookies, a fat slice of red velvet cake, chocolate gelato or an ice-cold can of Coke, sometimes you just have to indulge your sweet tooth. And that’s totally fine - just as long as it’s not every single day. 

    Eating a high level of sugar is associated with many kinds of chronic health conditions and decreased immunity. Autoimmune diseases, diabetes, heart disease, irritable bowel syndrome, pain syndromes and chronic fatigue all have links to sugar. The more sugar you eat, the less productive your white blood cells are and the better able your body is to fight off infection. 

    Sugar addiction is like any other addiction - it occurs when your mind and body get used to having too much of something, and you feel the effects when you stop consuming it. However, unlike addiction to alcohol or hard drugs, it’s not always necessary to completely give up sugar to feel better. 

    The amount of sugar that we as a society eat has been dictated to us by the food industry. The amount of sugar added to products such as bread, yogurts, sauces and prepared foods is shocking, and has risen rapidly over the last few decades. Even if your diet is the same as it was 20 years ago, it’s likely that you’re eating more sugar than you realise. 

    However, just as we have been trained to crave sugar, we can teach ourselves to crave it less. The more you eat something, the bigger affinity you have for it - so to reverse this process, you have to do the opposite. Here are just a few ways to condition your tastebuds and mind into craving something a bit less sweet.

    Photo by Rod Long on Unsplash

    Swap out your snacks

    It’s unlikely that you’re eating that much sugar for the more substantial parts of your dinner and lunch, so instead let’s look at solving what’s likely to be more of a pressing problem - getting rid of excess sugar in your snacks. 

    Common snacks such as yogurt, granola bars, biscuits and cookies, dried fruit and chocolate are all high in sugar. While there’s nothing wrong with eating and enjoying these foods, they’re no ideal if your aim is to cut down on your consumption of sugar 

    A solution is swapping high-sugar versions of the above for lower sugar ones, or replacing them altogether with non sweet snacks. For example, a fruit-flavoured yogurt is likely to contain added sugar, whereas plain Greek yogurt will not. Top it with some nuts or use it as a dip for crudite to keep things interesting. 

    Savoury snacks such as a nourishing Innermost protein shake, hummus, vegetable sticks, hard boiled eggs, cheese and handfuls of nuts and seeds are all great (and tasty!) alternatives to sugary ones. The key is to make sure you don’t feel deprived, food-wise, otherwise you’ll head straight back into the arms of the sweet stuff. If you’d genuinely rather eat the red pepper hummus with crispy radishes than a chocolate bar, you’re winning the battle. 

    Work to a calendar 

    This is a good tactic if you often have pudding after dinner. You don’t have to quit the habit completely, but try cutting down on the numbers of days you do, or again replacing your dessert with something less sweet (cheese plate, anyone?). Beautifully cut fresh fruit is a great option for making your evening still feel special. 

    This reducing tactic will help your brain to stop associating the time after dinner with eating something sweet, so will help to reduce your cravings. If you eat out a lot, or order takeout a lot, it would also be worth getting out of the habit of ordering a sweet course every time you don’t cook yourself dinner. Desserts at restaurants are often jam-packed with sugary goodness, which is what makes them so craveable, of course. 

    Cut your number of sugar packets

    Are you partial to a sweetened cup of coffee in the morning, or an afternoon brew loaded with two or three teaspoons of sugar? An easy way to reduce your sugar addiction and stop sugar cravings is to gradually reduce the number of sugars you add to your hot drinks. By cut the amount of sugar you add, but only every two to three weeks, your palate will get used to the taste of drinking things that are less sweet. Who knows, eventually you could try the tall americano with four pumps of caramel syrup you used to order every weekday and grimace at how sweet you used to like your coffee

    Drink differently

    If you love a good cocktail, and you drink them often, this could be contributing to your high level of sugar consumption. As cocktails are made with spirits, they often contain a lot of sugar to offset the harsh taste of the liquor. 

    Instead, try making your own cocktails at home with fresh fruit and herbs instead of sugar syrups and other flavourings. Not only will this be vastly healthier, it’s likely that they’ll taste more of what they’re made of as opposed to just sugar, so you’ll drink them more slowly and will probably consume less alcohol. We have some great low-calorie beverage ideas here for you to check out.

    Other Insights

    Coffee with milk
    There are plenty of reasons that people choose to switch to a vegan milk, ranging from the milk alternatives health benefits, their reduced environmental impact, and even their taste. But when it comes to choosing the best non-dairy milk for you, the healthiest milk alternative, or even the best non-dairy milk for coffee, it can become a bit challenging to choose between the many, many milk alternatives on the market. We’re here to break it down. We’re talking taste, sustainability and more. It’s the battle of the non-dairy milk alternatives, if you will. But first, as always, let’s get the basics out the way. What are non-dairy milks? Non-dairy milks are a group of plant-based milks such as oat, cashew and coconut milk, that are made without the need for dairy milk from cows. This means that not only are their environmental impact much lower, but that they are great for those that want to follow a vegan lifestyle and remove animal by-products from their diet. They’ve also got some pretty sweet health benefits, too. What are the benefits of non-dairy milks? Of course, the health benefits of non-dairy milks vary from milk to milk, but broadly, some of the great benefits of dairy milk alternatives include: Great sources of calcium Cholesterol free Easier to digest A delicious taste Fewer calories Due to the increasing popularity of dairy milk alternatives, too, you’re spoilt for choice when it comes to brands, milk types and even flavours. For this reason, here at Innermost we recommend that if you try one dairy milk alternative and don’t like it – maybe you don’t like the taste or texture, just try another one! You’re sure to find one that you love. It can be pretty overwhelming when selecting the best milk alternative, though. So let’s take a look together… What is the most sustainable milk alternative? It’s a fact that in general, plant-based milks are more sustainable. Their production uses less land, less water and their production leads to far fewer levels of greenhouse gases than dairy milk counterparts. The two most sustainable milk alternatives are soy milk, who’s production requires the least amount of water, and almost milk, who’s production leads to the least carbon dioxide. So, if you’re looking to make the swap to a dairy-free milk in the hope of making a sustainable dietary choice, soy or almond are the milks for you. What is the best non-dairy milk for protein shakes? When it comes to choosing the best non-dairy milk for protein shakes, you’re looking for a delicious taste and a creamy texture. Both of which are provided by almond milk. Almond milk has a similar, creamy consistency to cows milk which is ideal for creating thick and satisfying protein shakes, and the vitamin content of this milk packs a punch, too. Almond milk contains Vitamin A, Vitamin D and Vitamin E, which is a great addition to your protein shake, for sure. For those that love a caffeine boost, almond milk is often considered the best non-dairy milk for coffee, too! If you’re looking for a great tasting dairy milk alternative to add to your shakes, though, we really recommend coconut milk. Sweet and delicious, coconut milk is a firm cult favourite for protein shakes, especially with our pineapple flavoured product The Energy Booster… did someone say Pina Colada? What is the healthiest milk alternative? If you’re thinking of making the switch from dairy milk to plant milk, it’s probably fair to say that one of the biggest motivators behind this choice is the health benefits. Maybe you’re lactose intolerant and fed up of the milk-induced bloating, or perhaps you’re just conscious of the high fat content that dairy milk can bring… Whilst these are worthy concerns, when deciding on the healthiest milk alternative, it’s important to consider the sugar content of your brand of choice. That’s what you should be looking for. Soy milk is one of the most popular dairy milk alternatives, and it’s not hard to see why. As one of the healthiest on the market, soy milk contains just as much protein as cows’ milk, and as long as the milks don’t contain any added sugars and are unsweetened, soy milk is definitely the healthiest pick. Summary There are a few really key points to consider when making the switch to a dairy milk alternative. Firstly, non-dairy doesn’t mean non-delicious. Many people opt for a dairy milk alternative for the taste and difference that these milks can bring to smoothies and protein shakes as a result, for example. Secondly, switching to non-dairy milks is a great choice for the environment. The dairy industry has a hugely detrimental affect on the environment, and so switching to one of these delicious alternatives is a great way to reduce your environmental impact. By the way… why not make the change this World Vegan Day? Whether you opt for oat milk, soy milk, almond milk, or any other of the worthy plant-based milk alternatives, let us know what you think! Head on over to @liveinnermost. We’d love to hear from you. Read more
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