We know how those sugar cravings can sabotage your weight-loss journey… But good news: there is a substitute for sugar that actually doesn’t taste like cardboard. Tea.
Because the truth is, while some people can lay off the sugar pretty easily, a good number of us need more time to get used to living without that extra teaspoon of sweetness. So this is for you…
Why do we crave sugar so badly?
Association for Dietetics in South Africa (ADSA) spokesperson and registered dietician Vanessa Clark gets real about our seemingly insatiable need for sweetness. “Humans are born with an innate preference for sweet over savoury, which gets enhanced by following a high-sugar diet over time.” In addition, certain genes or genetic mutations also cause us to crave sugar, so your genetic profile could predispose you to dip into the sweet jar every afternoon.
So can I really use tea to replace those cravings?
Yes, but know this: not all teas are created equal. Always check the food label of any teas you’re buying. You should be looking at a product that has less than 5g of sugar per 100g or 100ml. Also try to avoid products where sugar is one of the first few ingredients (ingredients are listed in order of descending mass), advises Dr Clark.
Tea is such a versatile beverage. Add all the fresh ingredients you fancy to add sweetness without the sugar (think fresh lemon, cucumber, mint and slices of fruit). Bonus points if you can add turmeric or ginger – these ingredients have benefits such as stabilising blood sugar through improving insulin sensitivity.
A study found that mint has the ability to minimise cravings, suggesting that the scent serves as a distraction from hunger pangs and may help curb false hunger – the kind you might experience when you’re bored or procrastinating.
Carob is a bit of an acquired taste. But it’s worth it, because it’s a great way to wean yourself off chocolate towards a healthier, herby flavour. Added benefits of carob? It’s high in fibre, gluten-free, helps relieves diarrhoea, is caffeine-free and a good source of antioxidants.
Lemon balm teas
Lemon is such a versatile flavour, and lemon balm is a unique take on it. This tea doesn’t just kick your sugar cravings, it also helps with improving sleep, supports brain health, alleviates digestive problems, treats infections and prevents heart disease. Boom.
Chocolate, orange and mint tea
Make your own! Steep mint leaves, infuse oranges and mix it in with a little cocoa powder. When you remove the sugar you normally associate with these flavours, you’re able to experience them in a deeper way, because you aren’t masking most of their taste behind the sweetness. This process helps you appreciate the sweetness in much smaller amounts.
While this herb is mostly used to boost the immune system, it also makes a great addition to a herbal tea blend. Get all these added benefits while controlling your cravings: fight the flu, control blood sugar, aid healthy cell growth, reduce the risk of breast cancer, manage anxiety, lowers blood pressure and reduce inflammation. Love it.
Hibiscus has a tart, fruity flavour that reminds you of something that should contain sugar – but it doesn’t. Clever. It can also be batch brewed ahead of time and consumed for days. Tip: Add ice in summer to quench your thirst.