How to deal with sugar cravings?
As soon as you tell yourself you are cutting something out of your diet such as sugar, what is the first thing we crave? Yep, you’ve got it! Sugar!
Why should we cut out refined sugars from our diet?
The regular consumption of refined (processed) sugars has been linked to a number of health conditions including diabetes, non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, heart disease, and obesity. Sugar consumption can also have addictive effects due to the release of dopamine, a neurotransmitter in the brain. Alongside all of this, sugar can contribute to an imbalance of gut bacteria, override feelings of satiety and cause inflammation in the body.
My 10 Tips for Sugar Cravings:
- Eating “anti- chocolate” or “anti-sugar”: When sugar cravings are high, and you are trying everything to convince yourself that you don’t need that chocolate bar or that piece of cake, try an “anti- chocolate” or “anti-sugar” option. For example:
- A glass of water with fresh lemon juice
- A grapefruit
- Apple cider vinegar
- Peppermint or green tea
These options allow us to cleanse our palate and alter our cravings for sweet foods.
- Drink water: Did you know water is an appetite regulator and suppressor? It is also true that dehydration can be masked as hunger. So next time you are craving sugar or other foods, try having a glass of water and waiting 20 minutes. If you are still hungry after 20 minutes, the chances are that your body needs some food.
- Coconut oil pulling: This is currently huge in the natural medicine realm and involves swishing coconut oil (1-2 tsp) in the mouth for 2-15 minutes. Coconut oil pulling is an effective way to neutralise the palate while pulling toxins out of the mouth and throat. Make sure you spit the coconut oil in a paper towel and throw it in the bin rather than spitting it down the sink, as coconut oil will harden and potentially block the drain.
- Regular Exercise: Physical activity is an effective way to curve appetite and also cravings. It is also a healthy way to distract yourself from the sugary treats. In addition, exercise causes the body to release natural endorphins that make us feel amazing after the workout.
- Mindfulness: When a sugar craving hits, be mindful whether or not you might be hungry? How long has it been since you last ate? Does your body feel tired and lethargic? Is your belly rumbling? Or is it an emotional thing where your mouth is salivating, and you want something to boost your mood?
- Remove refined sugar from the house: Do not buy the foods that you know are going to be tempting. Instead, stock the fridge and cupboards with snacks that are healthy and nutritious.
- Eat a healthy breakfast that incorporates adequate protein and healthy fats: The consumption of protein and fats can be an effective way to stabilise blood sugar and avoid spikes.
- Brush your teeth: This can be used to neutralise the palate and also to signal that you are finished with food for the night. Brushing your teeth after having a nutritious dinner can help us to mentally understand that we do not need any more food before bed.
- Use substitutes for refined sugar: Removing sugar entirely from the diet is not necessary and would be extremely hard to maintain. Sugar naturally occurs in many foods, including fruit, and can be consumed to conquer a sweet tooth. Dates, coconut sugar, and natural honey can also be used to replace refined sugar. However, I do not recommend artificial sweeteners or foods containing these chemicals.
- Stress reduction techniques: Did you know that cortisol (the stress hormone) can increase cravings? This is why during times of stress we reach for some chocolate or a cookie. Engaging in regular stress reduction activities, such as exercise, yoga and meditation, may be important to keep those sugar cravings away.