Sugar cravings are the worst enemy for anyone!
A moderate amount of refined sugar can be an acceptable part of a healthy diet. But when you consume too much sugar, it can negatively affect every part of your body – from head to toe.
In fact, excess sugar intake is linked to many diseases, including obesity, diabetes, gingivitis, depression, heart problems and liver damage.
Refined sugar as well as sugary foods and drinks tend to contain empty calories and have no important nutrients.
Today, many people feel powerless over their sugar cravings, which means they are simply addicted to sugar. In fact, while women are advised to limit their sugar intake to 6 teaspoons and men are advised to limit it to 9 teaspoons a day, the average American eats about 20 teaspoons of sugar daily.
If you are addicted to sugar, it’s time to beat the addiction and improve your health status. You might think this is easier said than done, but you can do it with the help of a plan that focuses on making one or two small lifestyle changes at a time.
Here are the top 10 ways to beat your sugar addiction.
1. Skip Artificial Sweeteners
Avoiding processed sugars is not the only fix needed to beat a sugar addiction. Along with processed sugars, you must also try to avoid artificial sweeteners.
Artificial sweeteners do not lessen cravings for sugar, and they can actually contribute to weight gain. In your effort to add a little sweetness to life; you end up taking in more calories.
A 2008 study published inthe American Psychological Association’s Behavioral Neuroscience journal found that rats that were given artificial sweeteners ate more calories throughout the day and gained weight as a result.
Another study published in 2013 in Diabetes Care found that artificial sweeteners can actually alter the way the body metabolizes sugar. This in turn affects the body’s glycemic and insulin responses.
On top of that, artificial sweeteners have been blamed for a lot of health issues – from slow wound healing to diabetes.
2. Keep Healthy Snacks Handy
A great way to stop sugar cravings is to keep healthy snacks on hand. This way, you can eat something healthy when you have a craving, instead of your favorite ice cream or creamy doughnuts. Also, chances are high that sugar cravings lead you to eat unhealthy processed foods.
So, the solution is to keep a good stock of healthy snacks at home as well as at the office.
Keep your refrigerator stocked with whole fruits and healthy vegetables like cucumbers or carrots. A bag of healthy popcorn in your pantry is another good option.
For the office, you can keep some satisfying bites of peanuts, raisins and whole-grain pretzels as well as some dark chocolate in your drawer.
Always keep healthy snack options handy and shop for snacks frequently. However, do not go shopping on an empty stomach. If you’re hungry while shopping, you’ll tend to buy more unhealthy foods.
3. Pack in the Protein
Frequent hunger pangs are one of the reasons why people end up eating more sugary foods. So, to beat a sugar addiction, you must manage your appetite and prevent frequent hunger pangs. This can be done easily by including more protein-rich foods in your diet.
High-protein foods digest more slowly, keeping you feeling full for a longer time. Also, proteins don’t make your blood sugar spike the way refined carbohydrates and sugars do.
A 2010 study published in Obesity (Silver Spring) reports that eating higher protein meals has a positive impact on appetite and satiety in overweight or obese men following a calorie-restricted diet for weight loss.
Another study published in the Nutrition Journal in 2014 reports that adding higher protein foods toa breakfast meal reduces post-meal food cravings in overweight or obese young people.
Choose healthy proteins, such as lean chicken, low-fat yogurt, eggs, nuts, beans, chickpeas and lentils.
4. Hydrate the Right Way
Thirst is often confused with hunger or food cravings. So, when you feel a sudden urge for a specific food, try drinking a large glass of water and wait a few minutes. Drinking water is a great way to trick the brain into thinking you ate.
Also, sugar cravings could be a sign that your body is dehydrated. So, sipping a little water throughout the day may be all that you need to keep your body hydrated and thereby curb the cravings.
Furthermore, drinking adequate water has many health benefits. It regulates appetite, aids weight loss, improves skin quality and lots more.
Do not make the mistake of drinking sodas loaded with sugar or artificial sweeteners to quench your thirst. If plain water doesn’t excite you, make your own flavored water by adding fresh mint, lemon slices orother tasty fruits to it.
Cinnamon is another great remedy to help control your sugar cravings. It also helps regulate blood glucose levels.
Ceylon cinnamon is considered to be the best variety for controlling your blood sugar levels and food cravings. You can drink cinnamon tea to reduce your sugar cravings.
- Break a 3-inch cinnamon stick into small pieces.
- Put it in 1 ½ cup of water and bring to a boil on medium low heat.
- Turn off the heat, then allow the solution to step for 10 to 15 minutes.
- Strain and drink this cinnamon tea once daily.
Glutamine is a naturally occurring amino acid in the human body, which is required for the production of other amino acids and for the conversion of sugar into glucose.
Glutamine supplements can help you control your yearning for sugar as amino acid deficiency in the body can be a major factor behind your sugar cravings. While eating a nutrient-rich diet and exercising will help to restore your energy and amino acid levels, you will require a little aid in the beginning for successful de-addiction from sugar.
You can take 500 mg glutamine supplements 2 times a day. Taking these supplements is only a short-term solution as you will no longer need them after a few months when your deficiencies have been resolved.
7. Get Proper Sleep
Sleep deprivation can increase your desire for unhealthy, high-calorie foods, which are usually loaded with sugar. In fact, the desire for junk food is directly linked to the perceived severity of sleep deprivation. The more sleep-deprived you are, the more you will want junk food.
Moreover, appetite is largely affected by hormones. Sleep deprivation can cause hormonal fluctuations, leading to poor appetite regulation and strong cravings for unhealthy foods.
In fact, sleep-deprived people are at a higher risk of becoming obese than people who get enough sleep.
A 2013 study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences highlights the impact of insufficient sleep on total daily energy expenditure, food intake and weight gain. The study demonstrates the physiological and behavioral mechanisms by which insufficient sleep may contribute to being overweight or obese.
Thus, getting good sleep is another effective way to prevent cravings for sugar and junk food.
8. Chew Sugar-Free Gum
Grab some sugar-free gum and start chewing it from time to time to curb your cravings for sugary foods. When people chewed gum a few hours after lunch, they reported significantly decreased feelings of hunger and cravings for something sweet.
A study presented at the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology 2009 meeting supports the role of chewing gum as an easy, practical tool for managing cravings and consumption of snacks, especially sweet snacks.
According to this study, this simple trick also helped maintain energy levels throughout the afternoon and people felt significantly less drowsy at hours two and three before the afternoon snack.
Always chew sugar-free gum or peppermint-flavored gum to deter cravings.
9. Eat Proper Meals at the Proper Times
Hunger and a lack of key nutrients are two of the top reasons behind certain cravings, including sugar cravings.
So, to prevent hunger, it’s important to eat proper meals at mealtimes. Eat something every 3 to 5 hours to help keep your blood sugar level stable and avoid irrational eating behavior.
However, eating frequently at the right times will only help if you eat the right foods that provide your body with all the nutrients it needs.
From protein and fiber to zinc and magnesium, your body needs different types of nutrients to function properly. For instance, protein and fiber help you stay full longer.
On the other hand, magnesium and zinc aids in the regulation of glucose, insulin and the neurotransmitter dopamine that keeps you happy. In fact, a deficiency in these minerals can cause sugar cravings.
So, eat on time and eat the right food.
10. Take a Walk
Another thing that can work is to go out for a brisk walk.
First of all, a walk will take your mind off the food that you are craving. Secondly, the exercise will release endorphins, the feel-good chemicals in your brain. Endorphins can help reduce the cravings.
A 2015 study published in PLOS ONE shows that exercise reduces urges for sugary snacks and attenuates urges in response to the stress situation and the cue in overweight people.
The next time you have a strong craving for sugar, stand up and take a brisk walk for 10 to 15 minutes to deal with it. If you are a runner, then running will be even better.
- Add bitters, such as kale or bitter gourds, to your diet. This can help offset the body’s taste for sugar.
- Eating foods that give a boost to your serotonin levels also helps combat a sugar addiction.
- Get rid of all the sweets in your house as well as at the office.
- Keep a close eye out for sneaky sugars hidden in foods. Read all food labels thoroughly so you know what you are eating.
- Manage your stress level to help prevent cravings. Use meditation and other techniques to reduce stress.