Six tips to manage cravings and defeat the “sugar monster”
It’s now widely accepted that sugar is responsible for more than just cavities. Diabetes, obesity, cardiovascular disease and cancer, have all been attributed in some way to sugar intake. This is definitely reason for concern. Not only do most of the packaged foods we eat contain large amounts of sugar, but studies have shown sugar to have similar addictive qualities as opiate drugs. Regardless of your intentions to cut out sugar, willpower may not be enough. Six ways you can manage cravings and get off the sugar, include:
- Eat a breakfast high in protein. Starting the day with a large dose of protein (15-20g) helps you maintain a steady blood sugar level throughout the day. Sugar cravings are much easier to avoid if you don’t let your blood sugar spike too high or dip too low. Eggs or a protein shake (with spinach, fruits, almond milk, raw oats, flaxseed, etc.) are great options and can help cut cravings, as well.
- Snack on healthy fats. Fats help you feel full – reducing the likelihood you will reach for sweets. Not all fats, however, are created equal. A good fat source is coconut oil because the body uses it right away for energy, rather than storing it as fat. A tablespoon or two will leave you feeling full and energized. You can use it on its own or stir it into your baking or in a shake.
- Eliminate artificial sweeteners. Although artificial sweeteners are calorie-free, studies have shown that certain sweeteners like aspartame and sucralose can actually increase your sugar cravings. Consuming these zero-calorie sweeteners reduces the brain’s dopamine levels – leaving the body feeling an intense craving for sugar. Steer clear of these in popular beverages and foods like diet soda or “diet” food. Artificial sweeteners can be sneaky – 99 percent of gum contains aspartame.
- Sleep a minimum of eight hours a night. Two hormones – leptin and ghrelin – are closely linked to hunger. Ghrelin triggers the hunger sensation, while leptin causes feelings of satiation. With prolonged sleep deprivation, the production of these hormones increases, leaving the body hungry.
- Sweeten with cinnamon. Sometimes we’re programmed to like the sweet taste of food, but there are natural ingredients that can be added to provide sweetness without the sugar. Cinnamon is great for coffee, baking or breakfast smoothies. It also can help lower your blood sugar, triglycerides and LDL cholesterol.
- Drink water. Drinking water benefits the body in so many ways, including helping with metabolism, flushing out toxins, aiding with healing the body and more. Drinking water will also make you feel fuller and help eliminate cravings. Add fresh lemon juice to your water to speed up your metabolism by up to 30 percent.