Easter sparks the season of sweet festivities that seem to precede the actual holiday by months. Delicious pastries and hot cross buns sit front and centre in the supermarkets and an amazing assortment of chocolate eggs and bunnies begin to pop up almost everywhere you go, oftentimes prompting an early celebratory, sugary indulgence every now and then.
However, this kind of temptation can quickly slide from the occasional treat to a full-blown habit, making it difficult to cut back and regain balance once the holiday passes. If you want to stay on track with your health and nutrition over Easter this year – or any time of the year – here are some of our top tips to keep your sweet tooth in check.
This may seem like a contradictory first piece of advice but if you’re craving something sweet, then sometimes it’s best to give in a little. The key here is moderation. Going cold turkey may work for some people, but it’s just as likely to make your cravings stronger and more difficult to ignore. Eventually, you will cave and binge on more sugary snacks than if you had satisfied your sweet tooth earlier with a smaller portion.
If you really want some chocolate, stick to a couple of squares of dark chocolate or one small Easter egg. Balance and enjoyment are equally important for your health, so there’s no need to completely deny yourself of the foods that bring you joy.
Eat a full, healthy meal first
We’re aware that the previous tip is easier said than done, so if you know that one or two squares of chocolate quickly becomes a whole block, wait until you have a hearty meal first. This may mean holding off a few hours until you can eat a filling and nutritionally balanced lunch or dinner but you’ll find that you won’t need to eat as much of your sweet treat to feel satisfied.
When we don’t eat enough calories, our body looks to fast fuel to keep functioning throughout the day. Ironically, this may be one of the reasons why your sugar cravings are occurring in the first place – you’re not eating enough of the right foods for what your body needs. Eating whole foods (which include a good balance of proteins, carbohydrates and fats) regularly throughout the day gives your body the energy it needs to keep up with the demands you place on it. Ensure you’re eating breakfast, lunch and dinner, with some healthy snacks in between (such as a handful of nuts, or some coconut yoghurt with fresh fruit and granola).
Incorporate fats and protein into your diet
Adding good fats and protein to your meals is not only highly nutritious but also helps keep you full and satisfied for longer. Avocados, extra virgin olive oil, nuts, eggs, fatty fish (such as salmon and sardines) and chia seeds are some foods that are rich in healthy fats and can easily be added to your regular meals. Lean meats, fish, eggs, lentils, tofu and chickpeas are some great sources of protein that will leave you feeling satisfied and can also help stabilise your blood sugar levels.
If savoury foods are your weakness, this same principle applies. Filling up on good food that nourishes you from within will help cure your appetite for something loaded with salt and preservatives.
Find sweet substitutes
If habit is the cause of your cravings, one way you can help break this is to find healthier alternatives. When you reach the middle of the afternoon and you start to feel an appetite for something sweet, choose a herbal tea or muesli bar instead. Be careful of reaching for too much fruit – although the sugar content is natural, it’s still sugar nonetheless.
Below are our Apricot and Tahini Muesli bars. Sign up to our newsletter to receive a free copy of our ebook, A Taste of Eden, for the recipe.
Reduce your caffeine and alcohol intake
Many people rely on coffee to feel energised and ready to face the day. Yet this boost of adrenaline increases the levels of sugar in your bloodstream, leading to irregular peaks and dips that may further increase your cravings. Alcohol behaves in a similar manner. As it’s so high in sugar, it will cause the same spike in insulin. Sparkling water infused with fresh fruits and herbs such as lemon, raspberries, strawberries, mint and parsley provides a refreshing alternative that may help fill the void.
At Eden Health Retreat, we have a caffeine- and alcohol-free policy to aid in the detoxification of your system. Your stay at Eden is the perfect opportunity to give your body a break and to discover other ways that you can become energised or relax, rather than relying on stimulants
The source of your cravings may simply come down to boredom. If you’ve been seated or stationary for a while, take a break from the task at hand and go for a walk to distract yourself. This will help let the desire pass and you will likely come back feeling refreshed and rejuvenated.
Overloading your body with sugar can cause significant negative effects on your health, both physically and mentally. Balance is important, yet it can be difficult to resist the urge to indulge your sweet tooth, especially once you’ve formed the habit. These tips can help curb those cravings and keep them under control so that you can enjoy a healthy diet that includes the treats you love.