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It’s no secret that large amounts of sugar in processed foods is bad for our health, giving us energy lulls and headaches, fooling us into feeling unsatisfied so we eat more and making us addicted until we get our next hit. Oh, and did I mention the havoc it can cause to your skin?

But what do you do when you feel a bit of a slump in the afternoon and get a crazy sweet craving that just won’t go away? As tempting as it may be, don’t reach for that chocolate bar or bag of sweets. Instead, learn to love natural sources of sweetness that’ll give you a less intense low afterwards and make you feel much happier and healthier in the long run!

Fruit

Although fruit does contain sugar, specifically fructose, it also contains fiber too, which means this element of the fruit will make you feel full and satisfied, unlike a sugary snack product which will leave you longing for something else.

However, there are still fruits that may give you that sugar high (and slight low) after you’ve eaten them, so stick to apples and berries which still taste sweet but aren’t as sugary as the likes of pineapples, bananas and dried fruit, which is notoriously coated in sugary syrup.

Tip: Instead of carrying fruit around all day in case your cravings come calling, blend up your favorite berries with some water into your own unique smoothie and keep it in a flask so it’s nice and cool until you need it.

Organic Honey

Although honey still shouldn’t be consumed in large amounts as it contains both fructose and glucose, it’s a much healthier alternative to refined sugar and has many real benefits, especially dark honey which is believed to be packed with antioxidants.

Tip: Drizzle honey over low fat plain yogurt to take away the bitter edge or just spoon some into your afternoon tea to liven it up.

Stevia

We’ve explained the amazing story and benefits of the natural wonder shrub Stevia before. It carries 300 times the natural sweetness of sugar and can be used as a truly natural sugar replacement, even if you’re diabetic. For more natural sweeteners check out our Guide to 10 Natural Sweeteners.

Tip: Now that it’s getting warmer, why not stir stevia into your favorite cold drink? Try this recipe for our delicious OA’s own iced tea.

Remember that we often mistake thirst for hunger, so before you reach for your healthy, natural mid-afternoon snack have a large glass of water and wait ten minutes. It might just hit the spot!

Image: Mike Bowler’s Flickr.