6 WAYS TO MANAGE YOUR SUGAR CRAVINGS

 

Eath produces the food your body needs! (1)

The last post I did on why sugar is not good for your body  elicited a lot of interest and questions from people on whether there are ways to manage sugar cravings in a healthy manner.

Before I explore ways of how to manage sugar cravings I thought I should mention a hard and cold truth about sugar .

Sugar has no nutritional value whatsoever,yes it does sweeten some foods and drinks  the craving for sugar is derived from the pleasure it triggers through the release of dopamine into our brain.

Sugar has no proteins,vitamins or minerals that the human being would need in order to  be healthy .

The danger with the added sugar we take in  is that it plays havoc with our metabolism and it also contributes to a lot of the lifestyle diseases we see on the rise.Everything from obesity,heart disease,tooth decay are related to consuming more sugar than our body needs.

Sugar gives you nothing but empty calories and consuming foods high in sugar and fats leads to nutritional deficiencies  as well as it affects the consumption of other healthy foods.This deficiency on certain nutrients then leads to deficiencies that compromise our health and leave our immunity exposed.

The way to stave your sugar craving is to look for healthy alternatives to sugar that give you more than the sugar high and are high in nutritional value.

1.Take a fruit and leave out the sugar in your hot beverages.

Instead of having your tea with sugar,leave it out and instead have a fruit with your breakfast.Not a fruit smoothie because fruits have sugar in them in the form of fructose and over consumption of sugar in the form of fructose is unhealthy as all excess fructose will get turned by your body into fat.

2.Make your snack choices healthy ones.

To stave off the hunger pangs when you are feeling low on sugar at 3 pm Monday afternoon,take a fruit instead of the afternoon mug of tea.

Note:Intake of fruits should be limited to about 2-3 in a day.

Nuts and seeds also make very healthy snack choices nuts  provide essential vitamins from the B group,Vitamin E and minerals like potassium,calcium and magnesium and they will leave you fuller for longer as they slowly get broken down and sugar gets released into your body in amounts your body can use.

3.Take note of your calories

Take your calories from whole grains,starchy root vegetables like sweet potatoes,grains,cereals and not from baked foods .When you make healthier choices about where you will get your calories from,these sources of carbohydrates as highlighted are also sources of other micro nutrients  that your body needs.

As you grow older your body needs less calories and what your body needed when you were 20 will change as you head towards your 30’s and 40’s when you become less active and your body’s metabolism slows down.

4.Take water

Sometimes the hunger pangs we think we have that force us to reach out for something sweet may actually be a sign from our body  that we a dehydrated.Pick up that glass of water instead of a doughnut ,a cookie or a fruit drink.

5.Make your  food choices healthy choices.

Instead of eating three large meals during the day,stagger your meals through out the day in small portions and make sure they are made up of foods from all  the major food groups,cereals/grains,milk and dairy,fruits and vegetables,nuts and seeds.By taking your foods from the natural sources you are ensuring your body is able to metabolize the food in such a manner that stabilizes your blood sugars through out the day rather than experiencing the highs and the dramatic falls that come with consumption of processed foods which are high in sugar and fat.

6.Get to exercise

If you are struggling with your sugar craving,getting physically active will help you mange those cravings as it forces you make more healthier food choices,take in more water and you will definitely have to take in more than sugar for  your muscles to get working and to be physically fit.

Exercising will force you to be more conscious of your food choices and it will lead you to healthier ones.

 

Managing your sugar cravings is not easy but it can be done if you know how sugar affects your body and brain you will make healthier food choices.To find out how your body and brain are affected you may want to read the previous post.

If you find this information useful or you would like me to address something you are interested in knowing more of,please let us know in the comments section.

 

 

 

WHAT SUGAR DOES TO THE HUMAN BODY

The truth is that sugar is a drug and you can addicted to it.

By now you know  that sugar is not good for you,yet every time you seem to try to go cold turkey and stay off it you keep coming back unable to let go off what can only be described as an addiction.You cannot have tea or coffee without it and you prefer calling your addiction a sweet tooth.

But do you have a sweet tooth or what exactly is it about sugar that makes life so much sweeter (pun intended) ?

Yet everywhere we look there is something sugary and sweet calling out to us and tea,coffee does not really taste the same without a teaspoon or two or maybe three of sugar.

We cannot tell exactly why tea in our sugar or tea hits such a sweet spot and many people swear that they cannot take tea without sugar .If you have a cup in the morning another at 10 am and another at 4 pm and with each cup you take about 2 teaspoons of sugar that equals to about 6-9 teaspoons of sugar,depending on how much you put in per cup/mug.

If you are a woman a total of 6 teaspoons of sugar daily  is recommended.

Now imagine you take a soda during the day,it is hot ,then you decide to take with you a fruit smoothie of about 4 different fruits as you drive to work,meet a friend for coffee after work and you each order for a slice of the moist carrot cake you were  told  is fresh from the oven,how many teaspoons of sugar do you think that will total to

It will equal to a  lot of teaspoons of sugar.

Sugar occurring naturally in food are  an energy source for the body’s cells .When we consume carbohydrates they get broken down by the enzyme carbohydrase which breaks down the starch in foods into sugars.

It is not just carbohydrates that contain sugar ,fruits  also contain sugar made up of two simple sugars sucrose and fructose.It is why making a habit of drinking fruit smoothies made up of 3-4 fruits daily is not a good idea while trying to mange your wait is not a good idea as in the final end it will get converted to sugar and any extra sugar you do not use your body stores it in the form of fat.

“It is better to eat your fruit rather than drink it.”

When sugars are added to food it is because they play an important role ,they add texture taste and color to baked food products .Sugar is added to yoghurt,to tomato paste and sauce for added as well to  balance flavor, and to o dried fruits as a preservative,to bread  act as an energy source for yeast as well as in tea coffee to add taste to these drinks.

Naturally occurring sugars are beneficial to your body,it is the added sugars that pose are not good.The American Heart Association recommends that you get your sugars from complex carbohydrates starchy  vegetables,whole grain breads, and other cereals because these foods take longer to digest and the release of sugar into your blood gives steadier sugar levels as they take longer to digest.

The American Heart Association (AHA) recommends not more than 6 teaspoons of sugar for women and not more than 9 teaspoons for men daily.That is about 100 calories and 150 calories respectively for women and men respectively.

Sugar does play a role  in a healthy diet ,it is the the source of sugar and the over consumption of sugars from other sources that pose a problem to your health.When you over  consume a lot of sugary foods and drinks  your body experiences rapid spikes and falls in blood sugar levels.The rapid rises and falls of your blood sugars drives your pancreas crazy!

Blood sugar levels are regulated by insulin which is released from your pancreas.Insulin is a hormone that prompts your body cells to absorb sugar that the cells need to use  for their cell functions and the excess then gets stored as fat.When your blood sugar falls the pancreas prompts the release of the hormone glucagon that has the liver releasing the stored sugar for use by the body cells.

We live at a time when there has been an increase in the number of people living with Type 2 Diabetes and the onset of diabetes in Type 2 keeps going lower.A major cause of these could be the foods we are taking in,especially  foods high in  added sugars.Type 2 develops over a period of time  when the body is unable to use the  insulin it producees in the correct way.The body then becomes unable to respond to the insulin it produces and this prompts the pancreas to release more  insulin.This over production of insulin wears the insulin producing cells out and eventually the body stops responding to the insulin it produces and that is when Type 2 Diabetes is diagonised.

Type 2 diabetes at the outset can be managed with a healthy diet and physical activity but with time one will need to take tablets and maybe have insulin injections as well.

The reason why the over  consumption of sugary foods is discouraged is mainly because sugar plays havoc with your body’s metabolism. Occasional indulgence in a cookie or a slice of cake is okay but it should not become a daily habit.Management of your weight is  important as excess weight makes your body unresponsive to insulin which will lead to over production of insulin and eventually your pancreas will lose  its insulin producing cells which will lead to pre diabetes,then diabetes type 2 as your body loses the capacity to be able to produce and respond to insulin which is needed to regulate your blood sugar levels.

While it is very easy to avoid soda,cake,cookies,ice cream and other foods where it is obvious sugar has been added,there are other places where we have hidden sugars.

A good habit to start practicing is reading food labels ,as sugar gets hidden in commercially produced foods and the names used may confuse most people .Sugar in the food you buy from the store will be hiding with names like corn syrup,fructose,dextrose,maple syrup,fruit concentrate,caramel,molasses and many other titles.

Having struggled with kicking off sugar in my teens,I finally did so in my early twenties and I know how hard it can be to keep off sugar . Sugar is actually a “drug” and its consumption from other sources other than the naturally occurring ones releases the feel good hormone dopamine into your brain making you cry out more,more ,more.It is why it is so hard to give up sugar because we have already created neural pathways for this  pleasure habit and the reason why it becomes hard to give up. Just like learning a new skill is hard,we have to  create new neural pathways in place of the old ones by replacing our cravings for sugar with healthy ones like eating more fruits,nuts,drinking more water and taking pleasure from these healthier habits.

It can be done,and you can take your tea without sugar and enjoy it,have your coffee without sugar and thoroughly enjoy it and yes even your cereals do not need the sugar as well and the plain yoghurt actually tastes better when you add  fruits real fruits to it.

If you found this  article useful or  helpful,please let us know in the comments section .

HOW TO PREPARE HEALTHY SNACKS FOR YOUR CHILDREN

Snacking for children

A woman wields the  greatest  power over her household as she determines what gets eaten in her house ,she determines how healthy her family will be and most of us forget the power we have.You solely can  set the course over what kind of eating habits your children will carry with them through out their lives and well into adulthood.

As a woman many times I have found myself  asking this very simple question- ” why am I  here?” .

I don’t know if many others struggle with the same question ?This   feeling  that even though I may be doing very well in my career,business,relationships….I am not yet quite there.

It feels like we are in some kind of waiting room,you know like the one at the docotrs where you have to wait out your turn?

Hospital waiting rooms and waiting rooms of any kind are interesting places to get to see what people do when they have nothing to do but wait their turn.

Some are busy on their phones,reading newspapers ,magazine or a book or just people watching.

When you have children and have to take your children to the paedetrician,it is a great time to meet other mother,fathers as well though they are pretty rare.As a nutritionist it is also a time to see the kind of snacks children carry with them.Snacks are a great way to keep children  busy,their  very short attentions spans (15 minutes with my kids)means that they get bored pretty fast.They have very creative ways of keeping you busy as a parent with their trips to the dispenser pouring out cup after cup of water or making repeated trips to the bathroom to wash their hands.

Snack time is an opportunity parents can use to teach children to pick the healthy option rather than the one that looks tempting.Whether it is a hospital visit or packing snacks for school ,whatever snacks we put into their hands should more often than not be a choice that feeds their bodies and their taste buds as well.

Snack time is an opportunity to meet our nutritional requirements and growing children require more micro nutrients which are the vitamins and minerals than adults do.Giving them  a choice of fruits,nuts as well as vegetables is a healthy way of meeting their nutritional needs.

The trick to getting children eat more vegetables and fruits is to present it in a very attractive manner.

After the last post on the building blocks of your child’s nutrition some readers asked if I could give some ideas on healthy snacks they could give to their children .

Just before I share the suggestions I have  prepared I thought I should say some things to every woman who is doing her best to raise her children to eat better and have healthier habits.

A woman yields the  greatest  power over her household as she determine what get eaten and most do not  know it.You are the one that sets the course over what kind of eating habits your children will carry with them through out their lives.

A woman has the power to determine the kind of lifestyle her children,grand children and future great grand children will live.

A woman determines what ends up on the plates of her children,by the choice of the kind of foods she chooses to wean her child on, she is developing her child’s taste buds for healthy food .

The reason why we are told to wean children on a variety of natural foods is to develop their taste for nature’s goodness and not food from little  jars or boxes that is filled with a lot of sugar,salt and other additives and preservatives.

As much as possible try and develop healthy eating habits in your children as early as you can.

And even when you may have missed the opportunity earlier on,as long as they live under your roof you still have the power to change the course of their eating habits.

Children who develop healthy eating habits from an early age have fewer incidences of disease and hospital visits.They are more likely to perform better in school as well as socially.

You may want to read a post I did on why you should be reading food labels as well.

The foods that are great and healthy alternatives are foods you can pick from your local kiosk or grocery shop and when it comes to fruits,the best choices are the fruits in season,these offer you a fresh as well as cheaper alternative than those that are out of season.

1.Fruits

Fruits are best eaten  whole not blended.

Blending a few fruits for juice may seem healthy on the surface but fruits contain fructose a sugar and drinking too much fruit juice means  children while enjoying nature’s goodness in a glass of juice are also taking in too much sugar.

2-3 fruits daily are enough to meet a child’s dietary requirements .

Instead of blending 2-3 fruits to make fruit juice have your children eat the fruit whole,if it is an orange,slice it and let them have the orange.If an apple let them crunch their teeth  through the skin of the apple or let them peel the banana .Peeling bananas is a good way to develop your child’s fine motor skills as well.

As we live in the tropics,Kenya is never out of fruits,we enjoy a wide variety of fruits all year round,be sure to have your child eat at least 2 in a day by packing them as a snack for school and having another as an after school snack.

3.Salads

Salads are a great way for getting your children to meet their dietary requirements for  vitamins and minerals .

Making salads is a fun and easy way to get children to eat more of their vegetables.

Better still is if you use your own dressing,forget the one you buy from the supermarket that is loaded with preservatives,sugar and salt.Home made salad dressing are easy and tasty.

Try making them with some olive oil,freshly squeezed lemon juice ,black pepper,pinch of salt ,honey and use that dressing to toss your grated cabbage and carrot,or lettuce tomatoes and carrots.

Salads can be served for dinner or over the weekend and are a great way to get kids involved in preparing healthy meals ,lessons that they will definitely carry with them through adult hood and when they bring up their own children as well.

4.Nuts and seeds

Before you start giving your children nuts and seeds,ensure they do not have any nut allergies.

Cashew nuts,macadamia nuts are   favorites with most children , we also have peanuts(some children have peanut allergies)  we also have almonds,hazel nuts that are not produced locally and cost more but are also healthy choices and are stocked in a variety of stores.

Before packing nuts and seeds as a snack for children ensure they are past the age of 4 years and can comfortably eat them in your presence as they are a choking hazard for younger children.

There are also nut butters available and these nut butters can be used on bread,on sandwiches as well and are healthier than margarine as well as most commercially produced fruit jams.

5.Dried fruits

Dried fruits like sultanas,dates  and raisins are also good but not too much though as sugar is used as a preservative to lengthen their shelf life.These you can mix in with your favourite nuts to create some variety or added to breads you make at home and to cakes as well.

Salads can be jazzed up with some nuts,dried fruits and seeds like sesame seeds as well.

6.Sandwiches

Everybody loves bread(at least I thought so until we started thinking gluten was evil)

You may want to read :WHY YOU MAY NOT REALLY BE ALLERGIC TO GLUTEN.

You can make sandwiches from left over chicken and add tomatoes and with a simple simple dressing of olive oil and lemon you will have  a really delicious sandwich.You can add some crunch to it by first grilling the bread,rubbing some garlic clove on it and what you will end up with your children will keep asking for every time you have left over chicken.

One of my favorites as well as my kids is placing a slice of bread on a plate and layering it with thinly sliced avocado pieces  ,slices of  tomatoes  and topping it with a slice of bread then slicing the bread  diagonally into 4 cute triangular pieces.

You can come up with as many sandwich varieties as you like depending on what your family likes and as long as it is a healthy.Make your sandwiches  irresistible  by cutting them into fancy shapes using cookie cutters,your children will love them.

The secret to  getting it right with  sandwiches is to buy sandwich bread which is denser in order to hold the filling(s )and pick a healthy filling as well.

Fillings for sandwiches can be anything from fruits like avocado,tomato  to salads like guacamole or left over roast beef,chicken,turkey or tuna.

6.Making your own fruit yoghurts

A lot of the fruit yoghurts available in the market have a lot of sugar in them,a great idea is to buy  plain yoghurt and it with a fruit of your choice and pack it for your child  which they can have  as a mid morning or after school snack when they come back home.

Fruits that will give you a really great flavor when blended with yoghurt are strawberries,bananas,avocado,blueberries and just  one fruit per serving of yoghurt at a time .

A few years back I bought a popsicle maker and would often make popsicles with fruit yoghurt. The kids loved it especially when the weather was hot.

You may want to read :BENEFITS OF YOGHURT

A great way to ensure you do not have to push your children to choose healthy snack options is to always have a fruit bowl in the house,make sure its filled with fruits like bananas,oranges,apples ,grapes and by keeping a jar of nuts and seeds as well so that when the hunger pangs strike then they know where they can refill from.

If this post helpful,we would love to hear from you.It is readers like Wambui and everyone else who sends in their questions that keep us writing.

We may not always get it right all the time but when we can get it right 75% of the time when we pick a fruit over a packet of crisps then we are doing the right thing.

See you in the comments section and thank you Wambui!

YOUR CHILD’S NUTRITION:THE BUILDING BLOCKS

 

monday inspiration (1)

If you were to ask my children what would make a perfect way of spending the weekend if left to themselves,it would be to sit in front of the TV for most of the day .

Do you know other children that are like mine ?

Being a parent,I get my greatest joy by telling them what is good for them in  very few words and more action like switching off the TV and asking them,ordering them outside to go and play.

It would be easier to let them watch TV all day but what fun would there be in that  and what childhood memories am I creating when I am letting them spend the whole day in front of the TV.

I was thinking about the fights we have over the TV over the weekend when I  read in the Saturday Nation that among the top 2 ailments that children over the age of 5 years in Nairobi have is malnutrition.

It took me aback because Nairobi being the capital city should be doing better than that,we seem to live in apparent affluence and food seems to be readily available for most residents of the capital city ,that should result in an above average nutrition status for most children but it does not.

What should we do to stem the rise in the incidences of malnutrition,be it over-nutrition or under nutrition ?

What can we do to stop the increasing number of children weighing in at more than they should?

I hope that this is the start of a conversation of how many more mothers and father can ensure that their children are having more of the right foods and less of the foods that come in cartons and tins.

1.Making healthy eating a lifestyle choice

Over some weekends I accompany the medics team at my church for medical missions around our neighborhood and as a nutritionist  I spend time listening as well as  talking to mothers about nutrition.

Apart from the normal complaint about how fast children get bored with certain foods,it is apparent that most mothers in the capital city no matter their economic status know what is good for their children.They know what their children should be eating and what their bodies need.

The challenge comes in turning the information that we have into  life long lifestyle habits that our children can carry through out their lives .

No matter what stage children are in we can help them form healthier eating habits and we start at home with what we serve.

Start them on healthy eating habits while they are still very young.Let them know the joys of eating food made from fresh ingredients.

Start taking them grocery shopping as early as you possibly can.Let them know how to choose the freshest fruits and vegetables and let them have a feel and look at how fresh really looks like.

“To create really great food,you do not have to make complicated meals,the tastiest foods are the ones made from fresh ingredients.”

A secret to the question as to “how to know  what is fresh ?” is that fresh is always  what is on season and fresh is always cheaper.

Kenya is blessed with an abundance of food,vegetables ,fruits are in plenty and we have no reason not to ensure children are eating at least 2 servings  of fruits and  3 servings of vegetables every day.

Fruits and vegetables are the source of micro nutrients which are essential for the proper functioning of a growing body’s functions.Children with the demands that growth puts on their bodies,we need to make sure they are meeting their dietary requirements.

For many parents who have a problem getting their children to eat fruits and vegetables,a few ideas to try in order to get them to eat more of these foods are .

  • Making fruits are easily available at home,get a bowl which you ensure is always filled with some fruit of some kind.
  • Let the children go shopping with you and let them choose the fruits and vegetables themselves.They are more likely to eat the fruits and vegetables they enjoy .
  • Get creative in how you serve your fruits and vegetables.For vegetables apart from cooking them for short period of time under high heat,try grilling them,serving them in salads sliced or grated.
  • Include fruits and vegetables as a part of every meal. Vegetables come in  such colorful colors hat there would be no excuse not to have them on your plate,they add such lovely color to a meal.
  • Add chopped or blended  fruits to plain yoghurt .
  • Eat fruits rather than blending them to make juice as fruits contain natural sugars and drinking large amounts of juice is likely to lead to a child being overweight because of all the sugar it contains.

2.Letting children play

Children need play as much as they need food.

Play helps children develop physical strength and it is also important as part of healthy brain development.Play is how children learn to interact with the world around them.

The American Academy of Pediatrics in a 2007 paper titled The Importance of Play in Promoting Healthy Child Development and Maintaining Strong Parent-Child Bonds by Kenneth R. Ginsburg had this to say :

Pediatricians should emphasize the advantages of active play and discourage parents from the overuse of passive entertainment (eg, television and computer games)

 

With access to internet connectivity we are seeing fewer children venturing out to play,they are  spending more time on their mobile devices than outside  with other children or even their parents.It is now becoming more common to see children especially those in urban centers who weigh more than they should for their age and height.

Kids need to be more  physically engaged ,this will reduce the incidences of child obesity that are on the rise.Children with a healthy weight have been shown to be healthier,more socially competent as well as more able to concentrate in school.

3.A parent is the best role model

A parent is the best role model of what healthy living should be like.

Children are not very good at following instructions but they are great at being perfect imitators.

When we make healthier choices with what we put on our plates,what we stock in our kitchens our children carry these habits they have watched us practice with them when they grow up and in turn they will influence their own children.

We can change the future of generations to come just by the simple decision we make of what we eat.

Make sure it is the right one.

Was this article helpful,we would love to hear from you.Head over to the comments section with comments or questions about what we just talked about.

 

THE 6 THINGS YOU NEED IN YOUR THIRTIES

Socrates got it right!
Socrates got it right!

Once you turn 30 your metabolism rate reduces by 1-2% with each decade after that.

Your body will produce more fat and less muscle.

It is important to know what you should eat more of and what to avoid.

Your choice will also be determined a lot by your activity level.

In my thirties now i am raising 3 very active children and juggling a lot of other things.

This is a very busy decade for most women in this age group.

And the 5 things you will need more of are:

1.Whole grain cereals

Brown rice,whole wheat flour,whole wheat pasta  and any other whole grain cereal are essential .

Whole grain cereals have a lower GI(glycemic index).

They help you feel fuller for longer.

Whole grain cereals also contain vital nutrients for energy,fertility and your immunity.

2.Nuts and Seeds

Any unsalted nuts like peanuts,cashew nuts,macadamia nuts,hazel nuts are loaded with vitamins E and B.

Nuts contain unsaturated fats or good fats that help with lowering bad cholesterol.

Omega 3  is especially good  for both your heart and brain.

A handful a day is good enough.

3.Fruits and vegetables

Fruits and vegetables are the real deal.

They are better than popping pills.

Intake of fruits and vegetables will prevent many illnesses including cardiovascular diseases,stroke and type 2 diabetes.

They will also help you maintain your weight as they are low in calories but packed with vitamins and minerals and fiber that helps you feel fuller for longer.

4.Probiotics

Pro biotic combines two Greek words,pro meaning multiply and biotic meaning life.

The live and friendly bacteria  present in fermented foods is good for your skin,digestive tract and vagina.

Probiotics help people with Irritable Bowel Syndrome by alleviating abdominal pain.

For people who suffer from urinary tract infections,when combined with antibiotics,foods containing probiotics will help keep bad bacteria away from your urinary tract.

5.Water

Intake of water as you get older are great for your skin and overall good health.

Keep it up in the next decades of your life.

6.Sunscreen

A lot has been said about sunscreen and as you get older,it needs to be emphasized that sunscreen and a good moisturizer are your skins best friend.

Maridadi Living!

xoxo,

Ina