10 Smart Ways to Kill Sugar Cravings

You know sweets undermine your weight loss efforts and threaten your health, but you can’t stop eating them? You’re not the only one! According to CDC, our foods and drinks contain too much added sugar, predisposing us to health problems ranging from obesity and type-2 diabetes to heart disease, and more.

What Added Sugar Is, and How Much We Should Consume

Some fruits, dairy products, and vegetables contain a natural form of sugar (fructose, lactose, etc.) that is safe for our body. Others are processed, and their processing involves adding sweeteners, like cane and beet sugar, corn syrup, fructose, glucose, dextrose, honey, lactose, maltose, malt syrup, molasses, or sucrose.

To prevent added sugar from becoming a threat to our health, we should limit its consumption to 10% of our daily calorie intake. For example, in a diet that involves consuming 2,000 calories/day, added sugars should account for no more than 200 calories.

As usual, the theory is much easier than practice. Even though we know what we need to do, and we have our health and looks as the main motivation to do it, we can’t. Our body craves sugar, and we eventually give in to our cravings. The reason goes beyond the great taste of sweets and sweetened beverages and has physiological and psychological implications.

Why Do We Crave Sweets So Much?

Our hormones love sugar – When we get hungry, the hormones our stomach, pancreas, and bowel release (glucagon-like peptide, insulin, and ghrelin) basically beg for food. They send signals to our brain, which translates these signals into hunger, cravings, or satiety. When we eat sugar, our body consumes it fast and turns it into energy bursts. We get used to the energy hits and feel the need to experience them more often.

  • Our brains need glucose – Glucose is a form of sugar that fuels all the cells in our body, and especially our brain. Without enough fuel, our brain functions (thinking, learning, memory, etc.) slow down. Unfortunately, too much glucose can lead to cell aging, and memory and cognitive deficiencies.

  • Sweets are our emotional crutch – When things get a touch, a bar of chocolate or a few spoons of ice cream can make everything better. It’s not just an impression. They influence the hypothalamus to release dopamine and address our emotional pain. Alcohol and drugs have the same effect, so don’t be surprised if you occasionally feel like a sugar junkie.

  • We love everything forbidden – When someone or something prevents us from doing or eating something we love, we end up wanting it even more. If your parents used to punish you by withholding sweets or rewarded you with them, or your weight loss diet prohibited sweets, you will associate sweets with pleasure and rewards and crave them even more.

So there you have it: our mind and our body crave sweets. We know too much sugar is bad for us, but we don’t know how to quit consuming it, or at least control the amount we consume. Is fighting sugar cravings a lost battle? Some may say it is, but we disagree.

Now that you know your enemy, and how it affects your body, winning the battle is just a matter of devising the right strategy and sticking to it. The following tips should help.

10 Smart Ways to Kill Sugar Craving

  1. Eat slow digesting foods. By eating more protein and fiber, and fewer carbs and sweets, you will feel full longer. Your stomach and gut will be busy digesting them and will send adequate signals to your brain, preventing cravings.

  2. Plan your meals. You can avoid getting hungry and craving by planning your meals ahead, and have backup solutions. Plan your meals for the day or even for an entire week in advance, and prepare healthy snacks to prevent hunger and cravings between meals.

  3. Avoid processed foods. Most processed foods, even those meant for main courses, contain sugar. You can cook fast and delicious alternatives at home, without added sugars. You can even bake your own sweets or make your own puddings and ice creams using lower amounts of sugar or some other natural sweeteners.

  4. Boost your serotonin levels. The best way to avoid emotional eating is to boost serotonin levels through other means. The most important are a healthy diet, regular exercise, and adequate sleep. If you keep the serotonin levels in your body constant, you will no longer crave sweets.

  5. Use healthy alternatives to beet sugar. You have numerous alternatives, so it shouldn’t be too difficult to give up beet sugar completely. The most convenient are cane sugar and honey but don’t hesitate to use coconut or maple sugar, stevia extract, or syrups based on maple, date, brown rice, barley, agave, sorghum, or yacon.

  6. Drink plenty of water. Water hydrates your body, supports digestion, and helps you feel full with less. If drinking plain water is not exactly to your liking, consider green tea, known to curb sugar cravings, control appetite, and enable weight loss.

  7. Give up sodas and drinks with added sugars. You can replace them with homemade lemonades (ginger, lemon, grapefruit, mint), flavored water (fruits and spices), iced drinks, fruit smoothies, shakes, and cocktails. Besides fruits, count on regular, coconut, and almond milk, cinnamon, vanilla, and cocoa, and even some of the above healthy alternatives to sugar.

  8. Snack healthily. Why load up on processed sugary snacks when you have so many healthy alternatives available. They are still sweet or salty but without added sugars. Can’t think of any? Here are a few suggestions: fresh, dried or frozen berries, alone or combined with yogurt; apple, pear or pineapple chips; fruit puree, smoothies, and salads; fruit, seed, and nut mixes and crumbles, etc.;

  9. Indulge in green foods. If you don’t like salads, consider having a green smoothie every morning, to load up on nutrients and boost your energy for the day. Besides the usual leafy greens, don’t neglect seaweed and other sea vegetables, rich in minerals.

  10. Take up relaxation techniques. Perhaps meditation is not exactly a past time activity for you, but swimming, sunbathing, massage or sauna sessions could be. Try yoga, pilates, dancing, kiting, fishing, or any other activity that would help drive your attention away from sweets.

Remember: Abstinence Won’t Do It, Patience and Dedication Will!

If the above lines didn’t make it clear enough, let me reinforce it: no one expects you to give up sweets completely. However, it is one thing to satisfy your sweet tooth once in a while, and with a measure, and a completely different thing to indulge on processed sweets whenever you feel an impulse to do it.

Keep your cravings under control, and satisfy your sweet tooth with measure following the above tips. Your body, your mind, and your health will thank you. With time, even the burden on your budget may decrease, but you won’t know until you’ve tried it.

DMCA.com Protection Status
error: Content is protected !!