Beating the mid-afternoon sugar-low is actually a lot simpler than you might have realised.

Photo: iStock

You know the scenario: you get up early to drink your lemon water, exercise and meditate; eat a healthy nutrient and antioxidant rich breakfast; snack on green juices, nuts and seeds and devour a healthy bowl of salad with lean protein for lunch, when suddenly 3pm rolls around and it all goes out the window. Hey, we’ve all been there. Several unintentional mouthfuls later you’re flying on a quick, false high followed by the inevitable energy crash and another cheeky mouthful of sweets.

Sugar cravings around 3pm are real, and most people think that it’s very normal. What is normal is feeling hungry – and thirsty – at this time of day: the break between lunch and dinner is long. Let’s face it. It’s also normal for our stress hormone, cortisol, to drop off in the afternoon, which makes you wind down to prepare you for sleep. But how can we stop those pesky sugar cravings from sabotaging your healthy intentions?

Here are some helpful tricks I like to use:

1. Have healthy alternatives of sugar-filled snacks on hand

A few Medjool dates and 4 brazil nuts provide a delicious caramel-like treat, full of fibre and serotonin; Greek full fat yoghurt with berries and cinnamon for blood sugar stabilisation; almonds and dried sulfur-free apricots to stave off cravings, or corn thins with cottage cheese and honey to fill you up and satisfy the sweetness.

2. Eat breakfast everyday

Studies show that people who eat a healthy breaky are less likely to snack throughout the day on sugary sweets, eating less calories than those who skip the morning metabolism starter.

3. Get plenty of quality sleep

Make sure you get 7-9 hours a night. Often when we are tired we are more prone to the 3pm energy slump, especially as our hormones decrease at this time of day. When we are well-rested we’re less inclined to reach for the lolly jar for that quick pick-me-up.

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4. Exercise

Sugar releases the feel good hormone ‘dopamine’ in the brain giving you that sugar high. When we exercise our body releases endorphins, also giving us a natural high. Next time you feel like reaching for the doughnut, go for a brisk walk instead and see if you still feel like the sugary snack after 10-20 minutes.

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5. Drink a glass of water

Often we mistake sugary food cravings for dehydration so next time you reach for the soft drink, drink 1-2 glasses of water and see if the cravings are still there. You may find you were just thirsty after all.

Pip Reed is a qualified, certified and registered Nutritionist, Personal Trainer and Yoga-Fit instructor, and is the co-founder of TheHealthClinic.com.au.

September 20, 201611:36am

nutrition | body+soul

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