Processed sugar pretty much has 99 percent of the population in its white-devil grips. Weight gain, foggy heads, Candida, depression – these are just a few of the byproducts it leaves in its trail of excess consumption. Yes it is damn hard to break the bond but it can be done with a little (or a lot) of will power and some handy tips to cope with cravings.
How to get your sugar cravings under control
1. Don’t skip meals
You have heard it once but I am going to tell you again, skipping meals wreaks havoc on your body. Eat three meals and two snacks or break it up to five small meals a day if that works for you. For most, not eating regularly causes your blood sugar levels to drop. The result? You’re left feeling hungry and more likely to crave sugary snacks, aka that chocolate bar from the vending machine calling your name at 3pm. Instead, try these healthy snacks or guilt-free chocolate bars.
2. Have a breakfast full of protein, fat and phytonutrients
Breakfast smoothies are a great way to get everything in, especially if you normally can’t stomach food first thing in the morning. If you reach for ‘typical breakfast’ choices such as cereals full of carbs and sugary or starchy food like jam on white bread, it will only give you cravings all day. If you enjoy muesli, why not try these healthy granolas. Also, don’t be scared of eating proteins in the morning either like fish, lamb or steak with a little nuts, or avocado and greens – trust me your body will thank you for it. A good breakfast is 100% essential to prevent sugar cravings further in the day. Find out what nutritionists recommend for breakfast, here.
3. Add spices
Try the likes of coriander, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves and cardamom to naturally sweeten your foods and reduce cravings.
4. Take a good quality multivitamin and mineral supplement, Vitamin D3 and omega 3 fatty acids
Nutrient deficiencies can make cravings worse and the fewer nutrient deficiencies, the fewer cravings. Certain nutrients seem to improve blood sugar control including chromium, Vitamin B3 and magnesium. It’s always a good idea to see a Herbalist or Naturopath before buying out the health food shop though and if you struggle to take tablets, try these.
5. Move your body
Exercise, dance, do some yoga – just get the blood pumping and work up a sweat. It’ll help boost energy, reduce stress and decrease your need for a sugar lift.
6. Sleep, and then some
It’s no surprise that when we are tired we often use sugar (of some form) for energy to counteract the exhaustion. So go to bed a little bit earlier tonight and see how you feel.
7. Do a detox
A little spring cleanse of the diet will not only help reset your appetite but it often decreases sugar cravings in the process. After the initial sugar cravings (yes it can be overwhelming initially), our bodies adjust (as do our tastebuds) and over time, the want for sugar will decrease.
8. Investigate the emotional issues around sugar addiction
Think about what emotional need isn’t being met. A lot of the time the craving can be just that and we use it as a clutch. Other times, it may be a nutrient deficiency. Find out what your food cravings really mean, here.
9. Banish sugary treats from your house and office
Ben & Jerry’s is hard enough to say no to at the best of times, so do yourself a favour and just not have it in sight. It’s difficult to snack on things that aren’t there! Try these six steps to spring cleaning your pantry.
10. Learn to read labels
I always encourage everyone to eat foods as close to their natural state as possible and with limited human interference. You don’t need to read what is in an apple for a good reason! If it comes in a shiny packet, it’s a product with major human interference. So the less labels, the better and for the ones that do, educate yourself about what you’re putting into your body. The longer the list of ingredients, the more likely sugar is going to be included on that list. So check the grams of sugar, and choose products with the least sugar per serving. Remember, the closer a food is to its original form, the less processed sugar it will contain. Food in its natural form, including fruits and vegetables, usually presents no metabolic problems for a normal body, especially when consumed in variety.
11. Spot sugar in disguise
Remember that most of the ‘complex’ carbohydrates we consume like bread, bagels and pasta aren’t really complex at all. They are usually highly refined and act just like sugars in the body and are to be avoided. Find out some common sugar pseudonyms here.
Still got sugar cravings?
- Take L-Glutamine, 1000-2000mg. It often relieves sugar cravings as the brain uses it for fuel.
- Take a ‘breathing break’. Find a quiet spot, get comfortable and sit for a few minutes and focus on your breath. After a few minutes of this, the craving will pass.
- Distract yourself. Go for a walk, in nature if possible. Cravings usually last for 10-20 minutes maximum. If you can distract yourself with something else, it often passes. The more you do this, the easier it gets and the cravings get easier to deal with.
- Drink lots of water. Sometimes drinking water or seltzer water can help with the sugar cravings. Also sometimes what we perceive as a food craving is really thirst.
- Have a piece of fruit. If you give in to your cravings, have a piece of fruit, it should satisfy a sweet craving and is much healthier.