YOU know the drill. You’ve been on a diet for a fortnight, but all you’ve lost is 14 days.
It was all going really well until Friday evening when, exhausted, stressed-out and off-guard, you reached out for a bar of chocolate/ glass of wine/ piece of cake.
Then you felt guilty so you had another bar of chocolate/ glass of wine/ piece of cake to take the edge off your feelings.
The problem with food — and sugar cravings, in particular — is that it is not just about addressing the needs of your body; you also have to look at what is going on in the mind.
Nutritionist Elsa Jones realised this when some of her clients were having difficulty maintaining healthy eating programmes.
“I wondered why some people would do so well and others wouldn’t. And then it hit me. Sugar isn’t just physically addictive; it’s emotionally addictive too,” she says.
To help her clients overcome the pitfalls of emotional eating, Jones completed a Cognitive Behavioural Therapy diploma and developed a programme to equip people with the psychological tools to overcome their cravings.
“We don’t pay enough attention to our thoughts,” she told Feelgood.
“Thoughts and feelings really influence our eating behaviour. We reach for food when we’re tired, stressed, angry or happy.”
In her new book, Goodbye Sugar, Hello Weight Loss, Great Skin, More Energy and Improved Mood, Elsa Jones has put together a long-term plan to help people get back on track — and to stay there.
“We have lost sight of what healthy eating is. [The book] describes a low GI-style of eating. That is the style of eating I go by and it is a very healthy way of eating that is practical and sustainable.
“I am not into eliminating food groups or deprivation. You don’t have to have kale juice for breakfast and deprive yourself. You don’t have to cut anything out; you can still be healthy,” she says.
The one thing that has to go, however, is sugar.
In her work as a nutritionist specialising in weight management, Jones has found that sugar and sweet cravings are the biggest challenge for most people.
Her book includes a 10-day sugar challenge designed to reduce cravings, stabilise blood sugar levels and reset your taste buds.
Last year, the World Health Organisation said we needed to halve our sugar intake but, says Jones, a lot of people don’t know how to address that.
To begin, she advises, people should recognise the problem and create an awareness of their eating patterns.
Keep a food diary to track what you’re eating, identify triggers (time of day, place, feelings) and then put a plan in place to find alternatives.
“We give too much power to cravings,” the nutritionist says.
“You can press pause, label the feeling and remember that it is just a craving. It’s uncomfortable now but it’s not an emergency and it will pass.”
She advises people to ask themselves: “‘Do I really want this? Is there something else I can do to help me relax – a walk, watch TV, take some deep breaths, have a bath.”
“Believe me when I say that the more you practise resisting your cravings, the better you’ll get at doing it,” she says.
And cutting down on sugar is not just about improving the waistline.
Too much sugar accelerates ageing, heightens the risk of diabetes and heart disease, increases inflammation in the body, suppresses immunity and it can lead to an increase in cancer-causing hormones.
To help you get started, here are Elsa’s five golden rules of sugar-free living:
1. Eat every two to three hours
2. Stick to the foods on your sugar-free plan (a wide range of meat, fish, fruit, veg, nuts, seeds, slow-release carbs and dairy)
3. Limit stimulants and alcohol
4. Include protein with every meal and snack
5. Get the balance right at each meal (a quarter protein, a quarter slow-release carbohydrate and half vegetables).
Goodbye Sugar, Hello Weight Loss, Great Skin, More Energy and Improved Mood by Elsa Jones is published by Gill & MacMillan, €16.99
A nutritious meal that’s ready in 30 seconds? Bring it on. The new Quinola Mothergrain Kids range is gluten-free, 100% organic and microwaves in less than a minute.
Company founder James Livingston-Wallace said: “Our new kids’ range is a nourishing and guilt-free alternative for parents when they don’t have time to whip up a homemade dish.”
There are three flavours to try: Mediterranean quinoa with tomato, courgette and carrot; Tex Mex
Quinoa with kidney beans, sweetcorn and tomato, and Thai quinoa with peas, carrots and coconut
Suitable for three to 11 year olds, each pack costs €2.49.
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