Question: I have been cursed with a sweet tooth and I would appreciate any tips you might have on cutting down on sugary treats.
17 September, 2008 – 19:30
Answer: Having been as you say ‘cursed’ with a sweet tooth, you’ll know only too well the drawbacks of eating too much sugar. It may contribute to mood swings, fatigue and a host of diseases. Not to mention the effects it will have on your waistline: any sugar calories not used by the body are stored as fat!
It’s not easy to kick a sugar habit. When you eat something sweet your blood sugar levels rise quickly, which triggers a release of insulin to help bring your blood sugar back to normal. The problem is insulin does the job too well and you are left with a blood sugar that’s lower than normal. This produces symptoms of hypoglycaemia, producing feelings of weakness, fatigue, headaches and cravings for sweet foods.
The usual reaction is to reach for another sugary snack, and then another, leading to sugar grazing all day long.
If you tried eating more fibre foods, such as a banana, a wholemeal muffin or a small bowl of fibre rich cereal, the fibre in these foods would slow down the absorption of sugar into the bloodstream. Your sugar levels wouldn’t jump around so much, your energy would stabilise, and you would feel satisfied for longer. Fibre also helps reduce sugar cravings, gives long lasting energy and raises serotonin levels, which improve your mood!
If you do give in to cravings, fruit sugars such as those in fruits and honey are very easily digested and are much healthier and a less fattening alternative to sweets or chocolate.
Another great new alternative to sugar is to find a food containing a natural sweetener such as Xylitol (pronounced zy-lit-ol). They normally tastes just like sugar but have far fewer calories and a lower glycaemic index. This makes it ideal for those watching their weight. They can be used for sweetening drinks and can be used in baking. They also help avoid the peaks and dips in blood sugar levels, thus stopping those sugar cravings.
For more information, contact your local health store.