The Formula to Help Kick Your Sugar Cravings!!
Are you one that struggles with sugar cravings? Well, I use to struggle with it badly! Over the last couple of years I can no longer consume foods with added sugar like I use too. I mean like donuts, cookies, ice cream, and cake! All of the things I love just doesn’t hit the same anymore. So I had to figure out a way to kick those cravings.
DISCLAIMER: This blog post is on how to tackle added sugar not natural sugar that is in whole foods like tomatoes, carrots, oranges, and apples. Natural sugar is not really a problem because it contains fiber and a lot of vitamins and minerals that we need daily.
Sugar can be hard to reduce in your diet it is literally everywhere you go and therefore makes it even harder to manage. So, how much added sugar could you consume on a daily basis? The World Health Organization (W.H.O) recommends less than 50 g of added sugar per day. When you put it into perspective you will realize that it is not a lot. If you were to have one can of soda there are 40 g of sugar in that one can which does not leave much room for more sugar. If you are looking for maximum health benefits then you should aim for less than 25 g of added sugar per day according to W.H.O.
Here are my top 10 tips that helped kick my sugar cravings without going crazy.
Reading Labels Carefully
I am not a big fan of eating processed foods and I really try to stick to as many whole foods as possible, but sometimes you have to eat the processed foods. So how can you tell you are having too much added sugar or not? Learn to read food labels. It is so important to look at the ingredients list. The first ingredient is the one with the most quantity and the last ingredient is the one with the least quantity. Look through the ingredients list and try to look for words that have sugar (brown sugar, cane sugar, high fructose corn syrup, malt syrup, honey). Unfortunately sugar has 60 different names and I do not expect you to know them all because guess what? I don’t know them all! The most common words to look for are sugar and syrup and words that end in -OSE.
Eat More Whole Foods
Whole foods are foods that are in their natural forms for example fruits, vegetables, beans, legumes, whole grains, nuts and seeds. When you eat whole foods there are not any added sugars it is not processed and no one added sugar to it. So if you have a diet that is primarily whole foods you automatically reduce the amount of sugar intake in your diet.
Try not to drink your calories
One of the easiest ways to consume too much sugar is to drink it because it does not feel like we are getting that much. Whenever I am drinking something I am very mindful of the amount of sugar in it. If I am out I always choose water and if I need flavor I will just ask for fresh lemon.
Avoid Relying on “Healthy Sweeteners”
Growing up I use to love the way my mom made oatmeal and of course she put sugar in it. So when I moved away I did the same. However, once I got into nutrition I started using alternatives such as coconut sugar, pure maple syrup, and honey. I was using all of these natural sweeteners. I basically replaced my white sugar addiction with a natural sweetener addiction. I was still addicted to sugar! I am not saying you can’t ever have a natural sweetener, you just want to bare in mind that it is still very concentrated and is not as good for your health as fruit is. So what I started to do with my oatmeal was sweeten it with half of a banana and it was amazing.
Eat More Protein
When you don’t eat enough protein your blood sugar tends to be a bit inconsistent. So let’s say you had breakfast and it is a sugary breakfast cereal with milk. It is quick and easy and you are out of the door. You have that around 7:00 am, by the time 10:30 am rolls around you are going to probably be hungry. This is because your breakfast did not have enough protein and a bit too much sugar. With that being said your blood sugar went up and then it dips. During that dip you look for a sugary snack. To prevent sugar cravings try to get at least 15-20 g of protein for each main meal. This way you are getting the protein you need for the day and you are stabilizing your blood sugar and you won’t have those sugar cravings.
Eat more Healthy Fats
Just like protein, when you eat enough healthy fats you are less likely to have those sugar cravings. Your blood sugar levels are stable and your are fuller for a longer period of time. It is recommended that you eat fats from whole food sources such as avocados, chia seeds, almonds, walnuts, and pistachios. This way you are getting a lot more nutrients from those whole food sources.
If you have sugary snacks in your pantry you are more likely to eat them and it is because they are right there. You will not have sugary snacks if they are not in your home. So it is sort of like an out of sight out of mind situation. It is very unlikely that you will get dressed, get in your car to drive and get a snack I hope!
Keep low-sugar “whole food” treats around
I recommend keeping some fresh cut up fruit in your fridge if that helps, but sometimes you just want a little extra. A simple thing that you can do is frozen fruits. Fruits are naturally very sweet and once you freeze them they take on a very different texture and become a little bit more enjoyable. My favorite to enjoy are frozen grapes! Frozen grapes are one thing, but the second thing I like to do is to make frozen banana popsicles. You will take a ripe banana, peel it, cut it in half and put a popsicle stick in it if you have one, but it does just fine without. Put it in the freezer for about 24 hours, or until it completely hardens. The next day when you have that sugar craving, take it out and let it soften for about ten minutes. Drizzle it with a little bit of melted dark chocolate, some shredded coconut and add a little bit of nut butter and boom you have a banana popsicle. It has fruit, healthy fats, and dark chocolate. You can’t go wrong with that!
9. Avoid Using Sugar for Stress Relief
As everyone knows I am in my dietetic internship and I am stressed about 95% of the time. It just comes with the territory. I use to always resort to something sweet it was the first thing I reached for as a form of stress relief. Sugar does lower your stress level, however it is a short term fix, and not a long term solution. I have learned that the best way to relieve your stress is not through sugar it is through other forms of activity such as self care. My self care includes working out, meditating, going to see a movie alone, and reading. Anything that works for you that will help reduce your stress you should do it!
10. Never say Never
Life is about finding balance, I am not saying never have sugar, but it is important that you learn to have it in moderation. It is still difficult, but I have used these tips to help me find a balance and enjoy an occasional donut. Having something sweet on special occasions is totally okay. Just make sure you watch those portions.
Give your self that allowance sometimes, when you deprive yourself it makes you crave the sugar even more. So if you want a donut have a donut, just not every single day. Try and use some of the tips above to combat those cravings. This will not happen over night. Give yourself some time to get use to it and I promise it will all work out just fine.
Don’t forget to find your balance! I hope this helps someone! Leave a comment below and tell me how you combat your sweet cravings!