Kick Those Sugar Cravings to the Curb With These Simple Hacks
Today’s food landscape is rife with quick, cheap access to sugar whenever we are craving it — and even when we aren’t. Grocery and convenience stores are stocked with cookies, candy, sugary beverages and other sweet treats strategically placed in the checkout isle prompting unhealthy impulse buys.
Sugar cravings can hit hard. Ever wonder why that is? Once the sweetness hits your taste buds, signals are fired off to the brain to release dopamine, a neurotransmitter that causes an intense feeling of pleasure. The problem is, overeating sugary foods not only floods the brain with dopamine, but also creates a pattern of sugar cravings. In a short amount of time, the brain starts to crave more sugar and fat to reach the same threshold of pleasure it once got from small amounts of these pleasure-inducing foods.
When you significantly cut sugar from your diet everything changes—for the better. You’ll physically and mentally feel better. You’ll have more energy and the brain ‘fog’ will be lifted. But getting there is tough, and fighting off the cravings is a constant battle. So, what should you do when you’re in the process of eliminating sugar from your diet?
According to one study, done by nutrition researchers at the University of Guelph in Ontario, caffeine was shown to increase blood glucose levels by 24 percent. Naturally, when your blood sugar dips back down, your body begins craving those sweets.
When you’re dehydrated, you’ll tend to crave sugar; but instead of giving in to the craving, up your water intake. The body needs water in order for the blood to flow with the right amount of pressure. Not only does the drinking water keep sugar cravings down, it also helps your body function properly.
Exercise oxygenates the body and increases endorphins, which leaves us feeling great. Whenever you’re feeling down, you might think about grabbing a sweet treat to cheer yourself up. But remember, that’s not the best choice! Try doing 30 minutes of exercise, even if its just a brisk walk, I bet you’ll start felling better.
When you really can’t kick that sugar craving, go ahead and eat something sweet – but I make sure it’s healthy. Fruits and vegetables are a great alternative to candy and cupcakes :)
Unlike fruit juices and dried fruit that are high in sugar and low in fiber, whole, fresh fruit like raspberries provides a great source of fiber that allows for the slow-release of the natural sugars. With only 5 grams of sugar per cup, raspberries are also a low-sugar fruit, along with blackberries and strawberries. Tip: Blend frozen berries into a smoothie or cream them in the food processor with half a frozen banana to create a thicker frozen texture similar to soft-serve ice cream.
Packed with heart-healthy fats, almonds can help control blood sugar, keeping intense sugar cravings in check. The healthy fats in nuts keep you feeling satisfied even longer, making it less likely for you to have an energy dip between meals — when sugar cravings are often at their worst.
Celery & Peanut Butter
The fiber from celery paired with protein and healthy fat from peanut butter is a triple play for stable energy. Snacks rich in these three nutrients are the best way to keep you sustained between meals, as protein, fats and fiber are digested slowly to gradually release energy over time, making it less likely you’ll hit that afternoon energy crash.
Beyond being a great source of protein, fiber and fat, pumpkin seeds are rich in magnesium. If you crave chocolate, maybe your body is asking for more magnesium, as cocoa is rich in this crucial mineral. Choose other high-magnesium foods such as leafy greens and seeds to boost your magnesium levels.
Another cause of your sugar cravings could be an imbalanced gut microbiome, where the bacteria have adapted to thrive on sugar. To reset your gut’s natural balance of bacteria, choose a low-sugar goat milk yogurt or kefir. They’re packed with active probiotics, and also rich in protein, keeping you fueled until your next meal.
Do you watch your sugar intake? Scroll down and tell us how you slash sugar from your diet!