With New Year’s resolutions only a few wine hangovers or nacho binges away, we look at what you can substitute to help you reduce or give up the likes of sugar, carbs and booze. While it can be simpler than we think to ease cravings it is important and validating to know that cravings are a real thing – it’s not just your lack of self-discipline!

Sugar more addictive than cocaine

A recent review in the British Journal of Sports Medicine found that sugar is more addictive than cocaine. It also found that, unlike salt, sugar has no ‘aversion signal’.

“Salt taste receptors will ‘flip’ when you’ve had too much, but this doesn’t happen with sugar – so we have a built-in safety mechanism that protects us from over-consuming salt but not sugar… people can eat an entire bag of cookies or endless bars of chocolate and still want more.”

So what should the sugar addict switch to?

Dr Libby, the queen of healthy living in New Zealand, has many offerings for how to ease the need for sugar. She suggests that when it comes to easing our sugar cravings, there are the more cost-effective options in the forms of banana and kumara; alongside the slightly pricier sauerkraut.

She also suggests dark chocolate – that means 70 per cent cacao content or more, leafy green vegetables, coconut oil, herbal tea, avocados and dates.

Another way to ease the need for both sugar and booze are sugar drops. Chromium tablets can also help to balance out your sugar levels to decrease the intensity of your cravings.

What about alcohol?

What should the wine and beer lovers try instead?

Mrs D, former ‘boozy housewife’ and founder of the Living Sober website, suggests the bigger picture stuff we can do to rein in the need for alcohol.

“Increase mindfulness and fun in your life. Filling up other elements in your life helps you feel more connected to yourself. The more full your soul feels, the less you feel like boozing and getting away from yourself.”

Alternatively, if you are feeling like you might crack and drink alcohol when you really don’t want to/can’t afford to not be sober – try ginger beer, soda water and lime cordial to distract your booze cravings with a wee liquid sugar hit.

Stopdrinking alcohol.com also suggests postponing your drinking by one hour. Say to yourself, “Ok I’ll have a drink soon” and you may be surprised that by the time an hour has passed, your need to drink will have abated.

Stopdrinking alchohol.com also suggests the following:

  • Eat something sweet.
  • Eat a complete meal.
  • Drink a couple of glasses of water.
  • Exercise for 15 minutes.

Perhaps you couldn’t care less about chocolate bars but could eat a factory full of Eta Ripples? Try substituting:

  • healthy lean meat or fish
  • wholegrain toast with avocado
  • wholegrain crackers with hummus
  • sparkling water to get that slightly carb-like ‘fuller’ feeling.

Worried about climate change and want to cut down on meat but it’s BBQ season? Meatlessmonday.com suggests the following:

  • Craving ribs? Try avocado.
  • Swap chicken for peanut butter sandwiches. If the amount of protein in the human diet
  • falls below 15 per cent (more or less), we start craving it.
  • Instead of toasty bacon, go for toast.
  • Make a ‘meaty’ plant-based meal – eggplant, mushrooms.
  • A more ‘out there’ suggestion to distract you from cravings is walking outside and putting your bare feet on the grass. And plain old licking your arm for a salty hit can ease the need for meat. So I’m told.


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