Kicking the sugar habit

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This is the time of year that can be particularly difficult if you’re on a diet or a recovering sugar-holic. With Halloween around the corner and the festive season not too far away, it’s virtually impossible to avoid sweet treats so I thought I’d look at ways to fend off sugar cravings. But before I begin talking about ways to stop you from giving into your sweet tooth, I must admit that sugar is my weakness when it comes to food so I understand firsthand how hard it can be to give up this sweet addiction. I say addiction because scientists have acknowledged that sugar has addictive properties which can make it extremely difficult to give up.

While there’s nothing wrong with having something sweet on the odd occasion, making it a regular habit isn’t great for your waistline or your health. There’s no sugar-coating it, over indulging in sugary treats can contribute to obesity and tooth decay and as you may be aware, refined sugar is high in calories and has absolutely NO nutritional value (yep, none whatsoever!). So next time you reach for that chocolate bar, remember there’s no real benefit in getting that sugar-fix other than a temporary ‘high’ which will soon fade, leaving you feeling pretty crappy. So as someone who is trying to wean themselves off sugar, I have found some ways to help you kick sugar-cravings to the curb:

Eat regularly: Eat three meals and two snacks or five small meals a day. For many people, if they don’t eat regularly, their blood sugar levels drop, they feel hungry and are more likely to crave sweet sugary snacks.

Prepare for withdrawal symptoms: I know this sounds crazy but sugar addictions are real and if you have become sugar dependent, you may possibly experience withdrawal symptoms (no, I’m not joking). Research has shown that sugar affects the brain the same way that morphine and other opioids do, and quitting cold turkey may lead to symptoms such as anxiety.

Understand your cravings: When you have a sugar craving your body might be trying to tell you something. You might just be hungry, tired or lacking an important nutrient (just to name a few) so listen to your body.

Know your emotional triggers: I don’t know about you but when I’m stressed, I’m more likely to chew on a Mars bar than when I’m not. Knowing your emotional triggers is important so you can address the reasons behind your cravings and find alternative ways to cope.  Tip:  Instead of reaching into the cookie jar, grab a handful of raw nuts or fresh berries to munch on to see if this satisfies your sweet tooth.

Go for a walk: If eating a sweet treat has become part of your daily routine, then try going for a 10 minute walk when you feel the urge to indulge. I can almost guarantee that you won’t feel like that cupcake/cookie/chocolate bar when you get back.

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How to eat healthy without breaking the bank

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There is a common misconception that eating healthy is expensive. Take away is considered cheap and fast food outlets are literally around every street corner so it’s no surprise that Australia is fast becoming one of the fattest nations in the world. Research shows that the average Australian eats out four times a month with 55.1 million visits to fast food restaurants recorded every month. Common sense tells you that a greasy burger with a side of chips is no substitute for a healthy home-cooked meal yet we still give in to the temptation and convenience of fast food. While eating fast-food may seem affordable in the short-term, a poor diet can have serious implications for your health in the long run.  Eating healthy doesn’t have to be a chore and it definitely doesn’t have to be expensive so here are some ways you can save money at the check-out and reap the rewards of healthy eating:

1. Make a shopping list and stick to it

Planning ahead is the number one rule. Make sure you have a meal plan set out for the week ahead and buy ingredients accordingly. Jotting down what you need on a piece of paper is a good way to ensure that you don’t deviate from your meal plan and saves you from making unhealthy food choices in a rush. However, if you still think temptation will get the better of you while shopping for your groceries then steer clear of the junk food aisles altogether!

2. Never shop on an empty stomach

Okay, so we’re all guilty of this: you’re strolling through the supermarket and shoving everything in sight into the trolley because you haven’t eaten all day. At this point your judgment is impaired by this overwhelming urge to satisfy your hunger and everything seems like a necessity (especially anything that is deep-fried or drenched in sugar). Remember that shopping on an empty stomach is never a good idea. Ever.

3. Buy in bulk

No, I don’t mean junk food. Have you ever wondered why junk food is always on sale? Well, because it’s mass produced, lacking nutrients and full of nasty stuff (preservatives, additives and colourings) that your body just doesn’t need. When I say ‘buy in bulk’- I mean seasonal fruit and veggies that are on sale. Seasonal produce is usually plentiful and less expensive than produce that isn’t in season. Try to stay away from pre-sliced, pre-prepared fruits and veggies because while they may offer convenience, they are usually more expensive.

4. Prepare your meals in advance

If you’re really short on time then cooking your meals in advance is a great option. Consider setting aside one day on the weekend to cook your meals for the week ahead. That way you can store individual portions in the fridge or freezer for later use. This will ensure that you’ll have plenty of healthy meals waiting in the fridge and help you save time on cooking during the weekdays.

While buying fresh produce and preparing nutritious meals can seem time consuming and costly, there are countless benefits of eating healthy that your body will thank you for later.

Do you have any tips on how you eat healthy without hurting the hip pocket? If so, please share!