Do you think that the news items on TV and press about “sugar” have been overhyped?

Has it been a “New Year” shock for you? It makes good sense that people are waking up and demanding better quality food, not laced with sugar so that it tastes nicer. People no longer want to pay for food which makes them and their children sick.

Certainly in my line of work, the dangers of the “pure white and deadly” description of sugar has been realized for many years. As have been its links with heart disease, diabetes and contribution to most diseases you could mention.

Sugar is massively addictive. The role of “sweetness” in our society is real; the ‘sweet tooth’ syndrome, the ‘sweet treat’, the ‘icing on the cake’ the ‘if you are good you will get a sweet treat’. To give up sugar is not an easy thing: some people ‘go cold turkey’ and this is probably the best way of all. A few days and its over! Taste buds do change, you no longer crave the stuff. You walk by those supermarket shelves with chocolate and do not want it.

If you are finding it difficult to deal with cravings, I have gathered together a few tips.

1. Collect some fresh veggies for your fridge like carrots and celery. Buy ready made, or make up some hummous. Get an avocado and make a guacamole dip with a little garlic and olive oil, some tapenade made from black olives and a dash of olive oil and blend. Have some nuts available to nibble. An oatcake or any sugar-free biscuit to eat with dips, or celery and carrot sticks stave hunger and cravings. Try small, frequent meals for a while to see if this helps.

2. Notice how quickly you detect the natural sweetness in many vegetables, fruits, nuts and seeds.  Saute and roast veggies to bring out their natural sweetness.

3. Try adding savoury flavours to soups, sauces and when you stir-fry. Try tamari (wheat-free soy sauce), balsamic vinegar, tomato paste, sea vegetables like dulse, kelp, etc. and dried mushrooms like porcini.

4.Don’t forget about spices! Cinnamon, nutmeg, clove, ginger, a pinch of cayenne, vanilla pod. Experiment with chillies and garlic.

5. A lemon can add magic to your meals. Use lemon zest (also orange and lime zest and juice) to salads and many dishes; a dash of lemon juice can change the flavour of a soup or a stew.

6. Remember that chewing well can make all the difference to your digestion, as well as to how you experience flavour and taste. Stop gobbling your food. Also remember to drink plenty of water between meals. If you are dehydrated you will not produce sufficient saliva to really enjoy your food.

7. As you are serving up a meal, add herbs like coriander, parsley, dill, or basil to hugely improve flavour and appearance.

8. The healthy fats found in avocado, coconut and tahini (ground sesame seeds) give flavour and a creamy texture to foods. Try tahini in a soup you have made with chickpeas (could be a tin) and spinach. A good tablespoon of tahini will give a nice creamy texture as well as extra nourishment.

Soon you will not want commercialized foods that are made in a lab, full of additives and may never have seen a field, that are basically without real flavour or substance and you will realize that you have ditched, not only sugar but fake foods in general! Now there’s a good New Year gift to yourself.


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