Normally I don’t advocate for dramatically cutting down on particular foods. But sugar? Sugar just seems to be a different beast. First of all, we don’t need refined sugar. Your body would get absolutely everything it needed if you cut it out completely. Another thing about sugar is that, we feel as though we need a little something something every day forgetting treats are meant to be just that- treats. By definition a treat is something out of the norm. If you are having trouble calming your sweet indulgences down to just an occasional thing, here are 5 tips that can help you stop sugar cravings that throw off your desire to live a healthy lifestyle.
Eating a meal or snack made up mainly of carbohydrates (especially overly refined carbohydrates) can shoot up your blood sugars rapidly just for them to crash back down again a mere hour later. The rapid fall signals to your brain that you are hungry and you need quick energy (i.e.- you crave carbs). This leads you from one high-carb meal to the next as you ride the highs and lows refined carbs and sweets cause. Adding in a protein source (like eggs, chicken, nuts, beans, etc) will keep your blood sugars more stable and you less likely to rush to sweets.
DON’T SKIP MEALS
Let’s be honest, we don’t make the best decisions when we are overly hungry. A hangry person is an irrational person. You’ll not have the patience to think through making a good choice. “The kettle corn is there, let’s do this” is about all that will go through your mind. Solution? Don’t let yourself get to the hangry point. Eat breakfast, lunch, dinner, and (IF you need it) a snack somewhere in there, too.
GET MORE SLEEP
Lack of sleep leads to an increase in ghrelin and decrease in leptin. Ghrelin is a big player in sweets cravings. Leptin (as we learned before) works on the brain to tell you you are full. Craving sweets and never feeling satisfied? Bad combo. This is just one reason getting 5-6 hours of sleep a night is not going to cut it, even if you insist you feel fine. You need at least 7-8 hours to maintain adequate hormone levels.
FIND A DIFFERENT COPING MECHANISM
If you aren’t hungry when you reach for a sugary snack, you are likely emotionally eating. Ask yourself if you are anxious or even just bored, then address the root of the emotion. Find a non-food way to cope as we know eating sweets just leads you to crave more sweets and it doesn’t fix the problem. Taking a walk to sort through your thoughts, praying, or spending time with family and friends are much better alternatives. By the way- your friends may not have the name Ben or Jerry.
INCREASE FIBER RICH FOODS
Choosing more complex carbs such as fruits, vegetables, and whole grains more often allows you to break the cycle of eating sweets. Now, I totally get that choosing bananas over brownies is not the most exciting of decisions, but personally and with my clients I have found that making a concerted effort at choosing complex carbs over refined carbs when feeling yourself getting into a habit of overindulging really does stop sugar cravings. It’s a bit of a bootcamp for tastebuds. Reminding your tongue that fruit really is nature’s candy. Nerdy dietitian sayings aside, swapping your carbs really will help.