How to Kick Your Sugar Cravings

 

Have there been times when you violently crave sugar?  Have you ever found yourself having one piece of chocolate and before you know it the entire block has been devoured?  A strong force within you with a will of its own takes over.  If this sounds all too familiar, you are suffering from sugar addiction.  This article will discuss some extremely useful strategies to combat your sugar cravings.

 

How and Why do these cravings develop?

There are many reasons why we crave sweet things, but some of the main contributing factors may include:

–          Eating a narrow range of uninteresting foods.  People who eat very fast and only a limited range of foods can develop sugar cravings as a form of compensation for an uninteresting palate.

–          Chronic dieters are highly susceptible to uncontrollable sugar cravings

–          Long gaps between meals – if your last meal was more than six hours ago, cravings can be linked to a drop in blood sugar levels.  The only form of fuel the brain uses is carbohydrates, which comes from sugar.  Sugar causes quick energy production so it is understandable why we would crave sugar when famished!

–          Hormonal changes and emotional state.  Many women report sugar cravings when they are premenstrual.  People also often find themselves turning to sugar when angry or under stress.

 

Why is this happening?????

According to the American Dietetic Association (ADA) “sugar is the first taste humans prefer from birth”, and from childhood, many of us were rewarded with sweet treats.  The taste of sugar releases endorphins that relax us and offer a natural high.  On top of this, carbohydrates stimulate the release of serotonin from the brain.  Sugar is a carbohydrate, however carbohydrates come in many forms other than sugar including whole grains, fruits and vegetables.

Sugar is found in many processed foods including breads, yoghurts, juices and sauces.  As a result many of us are overindulging in sugar without being aware.

 

Tips on How to Combat the Cravings

Here are some helpful hints to tame those cravings.

  1.        Combine Foods.  If the idea of going cold turkey seems impossible, start by combining the food you are craving with a healthy food.  Eg. Combining almonds with chocolate chips.  Over time, gradually cut the chocolate out.
  2.       Slow down.  For one week, focus on your sugar cravings and have a think about what you’re eating.  Start to plan your eating so that you are eating what you intend to eat and not what you are desperate to eat.
  3.       Eat regularly and do not skip meals.  Graze on smaller healthy meals.  This will keep your blood sugar at a stable level.  Aim to eat every 3-5 hours
  4.     Snack on nutritious foods between meals.  This could include fruits, nuts or yoghurt.  Keep fruit handy for when sugar cravings hit.  You will get fibre and nutrients as well as sweetness
  5.        Get more protein into your diet – protein helps to keep your blood sugar levels more balanced.  Good sources of healthy protein include eggs, nuts, hummus with vege sticks, protein bars, fish, chicken, lean meat and tofu
  6.    Do something different – Get up and go for a walk instead of giving in to your sugar cravings.  Distract yourself in another way, call a friend, or listen to music.
  7.     Grab some gum – Try chewing on some gum.  Research has shown that chewing gum can reduce food cravings
  8.     Chose complex carbohydrates rich in fibre e.g. Wholegrain breads, brown rice and oats.  These foods slow sugar absorption into the bloodstream, avoiding spikes in blood sugar levels.  Steer clear of “white” carbohydrates e.g. white bread, cookies, sugary breakfast cereal and cakes.  These foods will lead to a sugar crash and will leave you craving more sweet things.
  9.      Drink more water – Often people mistake thirst for hunger.  We can get confused by the body’s messages.
  10.    Brush your teeth – brushing your teeth at the end of a meal can stop sugar cravings.  The toothpaste leaves a minty fresh flavour in your mouth and will stop you from reaching for something sweet.
  11. Clear your pantry.  Eliminate sweet foods from your pantry so that they are out of sight out of mind.

 

If you can manage to break the habit, you are on the perfect path to stopping these cravings for good!