It’s everywhere. Sugar seems like an unavoidable vice that we can’t get away from. If you are battling with sugar cravings, here are some ideas that can help reduce your intake of empty calories.
What Is Sugar Addiction?
Okay, we are not talking about something as serious as drug addiction, but there is a mental component. Maybe you eat a nutrient-poor diet without enough protein to supply the right balance of amino acids to make adequate amounts of certain neurotransmitters? Maybe some life event has happened and the stress has eaten away at you? There could be a number of factors.
Inside the body another battle is raging. The body breaks down the foods we eat into a variety of nutrients including glucose, a sugar. The body, well the pancreas to be exact, secretes a hormone called insulin in response to that sugar flowing in the bloodstream.
When we consume too much sugar, there is a spike. We all know what that feels like. For about an hour you are moving around like the Energizer bunny but then you come crashing to the floor like a wingless plane. It’s not good. To get more energy you eat more sugar and the cycle begins again.
How to Help
First, learn to change your mindset. We reach for sugary snacks when we are tired, most times in error. The body is signaling that it is dehydrated and in need of water but we get confused and eat instead.
Now that your mind is open, here are some ways to beat up that sugar molecule.
Meditate, do yoga, writing & burning technique, release emotions responsibly by punching a punching bag. Do whatever will help you manage stress levels and release emotions you have held onto. People tend to eat with their emotions, so having a handle on those can definitely help!
*Read food labels
Sugar hides in the most unlikely places. How about your bread, rice or processed/prepackaged foods? They have higher levels of sugar than you might think. Stick with as much whole foods as possible. Home-cooked meals and fun snacks that are low in calories, however, nutrient dense. For example, celery and cucumber sticks with almond butter or hummus.
Since you already know that staying hydrated helps your body function better, be sure to get at least eight glasses of water a day. Drink a glass before meals, to beat hunger, so you can enjoy a healthier meal without so much sugar. Also, test your cravings. When you want something sweet, drink a glass of water first and wait about ten minutes to see if the craving passes.
*Eat naturally sweet foods
This includes dehydrated fruit, fresh fruit, sweet vegetables and nuts. Your sweet tooth will be happy and your waistline will also. Look at the packages for those dried fruits to make sure there is no added sugar. And, eat them in moderation. Savor each bite so the satisfied feeling lasts all day.
*Sweeten up with vegetables
Sweet vegetables such as carrots, sweet potatoes, podded peas, beets and sweet bell peppers can provide you with a quick burst of energy when you need a pick me up. By regularly incorporating these sweet flavors you can more easily keep intense sugar cravings away since you’ll be satisfying the need for sweet flavors.
*Season with sweet spices
Spices such as coriander, cinnamon, nutmeg, clove and cardamom will naturally sweeten foods without the need for added sweeteners, working wonders to reduce cravings.
*Eat more beneficial fats and proteins
Over the long-term, consuming enough beneficial fats and proteins (along with lots of vegetables) is an important step to providing the body the essential fatty acids, amino acids and micronutrients it needs to remain in balance and not crave foods unnecessarily. Avocados, nuts and pasture-raised whole eggs are to name a few.
*Sleep and exercise
Having healthy levels of sleep and exercise obviously are a huge help. Getting out into fresh air and nature, moving your body, even if it is just for 30 minutes is beneficial.
It’s nice to have one every now and then, but they contain a lot of sugar and sometimes caffeine. Caffeine can feed those sugar cravings and also dehydrate you. Try flavored carbonated waters if you want something more than plain water to drink. Or drinks sweetened with stevia.
There are many sugar substitutes available now, but just switching out sugar for a sugar-substitute won’t address the underlying problem and may lead to more serious problems, depending on the sweetener. Two that I use on occasion are xylitol and stevia.
*Nix the artificial sweeteners
Artificial sweeteners, for example aspartame, have not been proven to curb sugar cravings. There has also been ongoing debates about possible health issues can create. The taste, artificial or real, will have the same effect on the body creating the same cycle of wanting more and more. So avoid these as much as possible.
Spinach extract is a fairly new supplement on the market, made from spinach leaves. It helps delay fat digestion, which increases the levels of hormones that reduce appetite and hunger, such as GLP-1. Studies have shown that taking 3.7–5 grams of spinach extract with a meal may reduce appetite and cravings for several hours.
This is one of the best superfood greens in the market hands down. This powder can help with getting essential nutrients, minerals, and amino acids. I have been taking this for over a decade!
L-glutamine is an amino acid that balances blood sugar, which helps reduce and even stop cravings. You can take it with your meals or even take some the moment a sugar craving rears its head. A little bit on the tip of a spoon should do the trick and stop the craving in its tracks.
Some evidence shows that taking small doses of Chromium can help ward off blood sugar dips and spikes that lead to cravings. A doctor once recommended that I take 200 mcg of Chromium once a day in the morning to help balance blood sugar levels.
B-vitamins are said to help with carbohydrate metabolism and are also important for many other reactions in the body. B-vitamins are depleted by excess stress, carbohydrate consumption and environmental stressors. I found that I had much more energy when I took a fermented live-source b-vitamin complex.
Reseveratrol is found in red wine. It improves your body’s ability to absorb glucose into muscle tissue. This helps store energy, which reduces the need, and therefore craving, for sugar
Check your mineral levels
Magnesium is used in the regulation of glucose, insulin, and the neurotransmitter dopamine; a deficiency can manifest in the form of intense sugar cravings, especially for chocolate. Zinc is needed for proper insulin and glucose utilization; a deficiency can also lead to sugar cravings.
Are you struggling with sugar addiction? Use the above ideas to help you overcome them!