It's great to be able to enjoy delicious meals and desserts over the holiday season, but as January rolls around many people return to a more sustainable and balanced diet. While sugar cravings can be a regular occurrence year round, this time of year tends to be even more difficult!
There are many ways to help manage sugar cravings, including balancing blood sugar, changing eating habits, getting adequate protein in your diet, etc. But today I want to share just one very simple tool that you can use in the midst of an “I need sugar, NOW” moment.
Bitters are a category of plants and herbs that have (you guessed it) a bitter taste. Vegetables like arugula, dandelion greens, artichokes, and even kale have bitter properties. Some popular herbal bitters are gentian, milk thistle, taraxacum, and angelica. I love to use bitters for their wonderful digestive effects (more on that later) but a great bonus is that they also help stop sugar cravings in their tracks. This is because after tasting bitters, the body finds sugar less appealing (an evolutionary adaptation) and cravings dissipate or are more easily managed.
There are many bitter formulations out there, the most well known probably being angostura bitters that are typically used in cocktails or aperitifs. Swedish bitters are another brand that is commonly seen in many health food stores. I myself prefer a specific blend containing gentian (the strongest bitter herb there is) combined with a number of other supportive herbs.
To use bitters, simply mix a few drops in water or directly on the tongue. You may notice your tongue feeling warm or tingling, or the production of saliva. This is the desired effect as bitters “ignite” our digestive processes. The amount you use depends on personal tolerance and the specific blend and brand.
If you don’t want to use the liquid herbal form, you can also try the following foods
- Dandelion greens
- Teas made out of bitter herbs like dandelion and hops
- High quality dark chocolate (at least 70-85% cocoa)
Using bitters to curb sugar cravings is merely one tool in the kit. The most important thing is to enjoy a healthy and sustainable diet with a variety of foods - including the occasional sweet treat!
Take care and Happy New Year!