Today’s post is all about sugar cravings: why we crave sugar, why we sometimes think we crave sugar and little tips and tricks you can do to eliminate it.
Our brains can make us think certain things that we’re not actually feeling …it’s almost like the placebo effect. It’s a good thing in some ways because it shows you how powerful the mind is, but it also means that we’re vulnerable to certain thoughts that we might not actually be feeling.
When I talk about sugar, I’m referring to added sugars, not naturally occurring. Sugar is something that our body doesn’t actually need. The only number that goes along with sugar is how much we should limit it per day.
- Warm Drinks. We all go to warm drinks in the colder months and around the holidays- it’s cozy, but it’s also the culprit of so many added calories and so much added sugar that we don’t need. Stop ordering drinks as they come (with the syrups, added toxins and all the added processed sugar), and go for sweeter spices.
Ground nutmeg, pumpkin pie spice and ceylon cinnamon are a few of my favorites. These spices have a sweeter taste, without the sugar. When you add these to foods or drinks, your mind will think you’re having something sugary when you’re not.
Stevia is one of my favorite sweeteners. It’s plant-based, clean and doesn’t have sugar in it. I like to rely on spices more, but when I really want something sweet, I go to Stevia.
- Cold Drinks. One thing that I would recommend everyone do is completely cut out fruit juice. I never say to completely cut something out, but processed fruit juice is the worst thing because it’s really no different than drinking high fructose corn syrup. You’re stripping down the fruit of all of its fiber, and a lot of the times it’s been so processed that you’re not getting the natural benefits of the juice anyway.
Even when I’m juicing a drink, I go for all greens. I only like to eat my fruit or blend it. Keeping the fiber intact will slow down the absorption, so you won’t get that quick spike, and at least you’re getting a lot of the benefits of the fruit. When it comes to juicing, it really is high in sugar.
Another thing to completely cut out is soda. I used to love soda, and one day in college, I made the decision to stop. Certain things are really good cold turkey. Here are some soda alternatives:
- Soda Stream (sponsored)- This makes carbonated water for you. It’s small, easy to store and environmentally-friendly. I really think that the carbonation helps so much with having a soda craving. If you still want flavor, add a splash of juice or a flavored tea bag. I love the Green Tea Super Antioxidant flavor by Yogi.
- Whole Foods. When companies make things low or non-fat, oftentimes they compensate by adding a lot of sugar for flavor. When you see snacks like this, always look at the sugar, and in general, avoid it. If you’re buying a bag of Oreo cookies and it says zero fat, you know something’s wrong. I’d rather you have the food in its actual form than manipulating it so much.
If you want a sweeter food, I recommend getting a sweet potato, yam or squash, and adding in sweet spices or even Stevia. Have that satisfy your sweet tooth craving.
- Avoid Simple Carbs. When I’m talking simple carbs, I’m talking white flour, white pasta, bread, white potatoes (even though I like them), etc. If you feel like you have a sugar craving or addiction, this is something you want to watch. You might not eat these foods and think, “sweet tooth,” but they have a high amount of sugar. When you eat them, you get a quick spike in blood sugar (quick boost in energy, followed by a crash). You’re going to crave more of that food when you’re really just craving the energy.
If you do start to cut these foods out, you might notice in the first few days that you’re craving sugar even more because your body is getting used to the adjustment. Give it a little bit of time on a new diet for your body to adjust. Once it gets used to eating real, whole foods and having more sustained energy, you’ll notice a difference for the better.
- Protein / Fat. If you’re not eating a high amount of protein and maybe just eating a high amount of simple carbs, this might be the reason you never feel sustained or full. If you are eating a high protein or fat diet, this tip might not apply. Proteins and fats don’t spike your insulin the same way, keeping you full for longer periods of time.
Habit or Craving?
Pay attention to whether your sugar craving or addiction is more of a habit or if it’s actually what you’re craving. Some people say they crave dessert every time they finish dinner …You might think it’s a craving, but conditioned responses are such a real thing. Pay attention to that environment, and see what happens if you change up the environment.
Let’s say you eat a really late lunch and skip dinner one night- If you don’t crave a sweet after, maybe it’s because you’re not craving it after your meal the same way. Pay attention to triggers, and see if you can break yourself out of a habit that might be causing you to have a sugar addiction.
I know sugar might not seem like the most serious thing, but it really goes beyond just the risk of diabetes and obesity. While those are really serious, it also really messes with your hormones. When your hormones are out-of-whack, your entire ecosystem is out-of-whack. You could experience any kind of symptom- fatigue, stress, changes in mood, irritability, holding extra fat, etc. Pay attention to this, and if it’s something that you’re experiencing, try these tips and see if they work for you.