It’s no secret that people today ingest far too much sugar. To be fair, it’s everywhere. At every restaurant, social gathering and work meeting, there seems to be a sugar-laden treat taunting you. Sadly, it doesn’t end there. There are hidden sugars everywhere, making many of your favorite foods, sauces, drinks and snacks less healthy. Sugar has drug-like effects in the reward center of the brain and can be compared to cocaine for its addictive side effect. When you eat sugar, your blood glucose elevates which causes an addictive drive in the brain by increasing dopamine (reward/pleasure neurotransmitter) levels. One of the main problems with all this sugar consumption is that prolonged dopamine signal creates a tolerance, which makes it hard to get the same dopamine reward, resulting in a never-ending cycle of sugar over-consumption.
How I Cut My Sugar Cravings Like A Boss
I started changing my diet, not as a way to overcome my sugar cravings, but merely to reduce inflammation in my body and heal my gut. After a few weeks of this diet change, I noticed that I was no longer craving sugar – what a fantastic side effect! I believe that sharing is caring and I am happy to share my personal success story with you guys on how I cut my sugar cravings.
Cut Out Refined Sugar
The first thing I did was cut out refined sugar – cold turkey. As you probably know, it’s incredibly hard to eat sweet treats in moderation. As I mentioned before, sugar is addictive, and once you have it the cycle begins, and you will eventually crave more. When I made the conscious decision not to consume refined sugar, my body stopped asking for it so much. If you happen to fall off the wagon, don’t beat yourself up. Just be mindful of your cravings the days following and resist! If a recipe calls for some sugar, try Stevia.
Say Goodbye To Pre-Packaged Foods That Contain Refined Sugar
It’s time to play label detective. For me, this means picking through ingredient lists and nutrition facts with a fine tooth comb. I have a severe gluten allergy and a long list of food sensitivities, so I am a pro at reading labels and usually stick to “healthy” pre-packaged foods when I’m not eating fresh, whole foods. However, when I went through my pantry to do a refined sugar sweep of my “healthy” pre-packaged treats I found that around 70% of them contained sugar. YES, even my damn kale chips had sugar. Pro tip: Always read the label and don’t let the trendy packaging, and healthy buzzword jargon fool you. Also, watch out for sneaky names for sugar such as:
- anhydrous dextrose
- brown sugar
- barley malt
- corn syrup
- high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS)
- evaporated cane juice
- sugar cane
- raw sugar
Drink More Water
Staying adequately hydrated will probably be on every single list I ever make for elevating health. It happens to be one of the most simple things you can do when you are craving sugar and an important thing to do to prevent cravings from occurring. Dehydration can cause difficulty in the production of energy output because it interferes with the breaking down of glycogen to release glucose into the bloodstream. This disruption can trigger sugar cravings. It’s easy to forget to drink water when you are busy but make time for it and set the alarm on your phone if you need to!
Keep Healthy Snacks On Deck
If you let yourself get too hungry, your sugar cravings are going to return with a vengeance. Prevent this from happening by having healthy snacks ready, so you don’t make impulsive last minute decisions. Replace sweet treats with fresh fruit and nuts. If I’m going to have something sweet its going to be fruit or a healthy homemade version of something that is traditionally unhealthy. I’ve limited my fruit intake to no more than two servings a day and consume nuts quite frequently.
Make Your Meals Nutrient Dense
Lack of vital nutrients can cause sugar cravings. Therefore, it’s imperative that you consume nutrient-dense meals at mealtimes. This way, your body gets the essential nutrients it needs, and you will feel satisfied after eating. Keep in mind that carbohydrates, in general, cause a glucose spike and can leave you with cravings a short while later. On the other hand, high-quality fat, such as avocado, coconut oil, and salmon, will give you steady energy and keep you satiated for hours, which makes it much easier to abstain from sugar. When you do eat carbohydrates, choose slow burning ones such as sweet potato and butternut squash. One thing to note is that carbs are a vital fuel for your brain, they boost your energy and support your metabolism. The key is to eat the right kinds of carbohydrates, the ones that contain fiber, and nutrients that take time to digest. Complex carbohydrates allow for a slow release of sugar into the body.
The bottom line is that there are several ways you can go about cutting sugar cravings. These happen to be the ways that truly helped me. The main takeaways here are; I cut out all refined sugar, started drinking way more water, replaced sugary treats with fruit and nuts, reduced my carbohydrate intake and increased the volume of healthy fats in my diet.
What are some of your most effective ways to kick sugar cravings? Comment below!