In spite of the consistent health message passed on globally on the need to reduce sugar intake, sugar still makes up a big percentage of the average person’s daily caloric intake. There is need for concern simply because science reveals that the human body is not meant to handle such a high concentration of sugar. In fact, this is a known contributing factor to many diseases that affect people from all walks of life. These conditions range from cancer to diseases affecting the heart as well as diabetes. Perhaps the most sobering aspect of all these is the fact that not even the kids are spared.
The issue when it comes to sugar cravings, is that sugar not only overburdens the body, it is also pretty addictive. Scientific research reveals startling results typical of these cravings. Once satisfied, say after eating cake and biscuits, blood glucose levels plummet, in effect altering the brain’s capacity to control one’s impulse. the resulting effect is a lapse in one’s self control so that they are unable to restrict themselves.
The end result is greater craving for more sugary foods and snacks, thus creating a vicious cycle that is hard to break. These findings explain in part, the sudden global crisis as far as obesity is concerned. In understanding this, you are better placed to find remedies to treat your sugar cravings. More importantly, you will realize just how much sugar there is in seemingly harmless food – from your morning slice of bread, to the cookies and cakes and even your salad dressing. Below are simple ways in which you can manage the crazed cravings.
1. Grab a Meal when you are Hungry and Avoid Snacking:
Time Required: 20-30 Min
What You Need: Your choice meal (preferably one that is not laden with sugars).
The most important thing you need to do in dealing with sugar cravings is stay in the right frame of mind. As a guide, you must understand that a craving is not synonymous with hunger. A craving simply means that your energy levels are low, and the brain triggers the release of a chemical compound known as dopamine. Here’s the catch: whenever you get a craving, and you are actually famished, indulging in the craving simply worsens the situation. At this point, willpower does not accomplish much, and more often than not, you will satisfy your sugar cravings.
If you are keen enough, you will notice when the craving strikes. The ideal response, in place of satisfying the cravings, is taking a full well-balanced meal. A well balanced meal should have portions of the following in decreasing amounts: Green vegetables, proteins and carbohydrates. Granted, eating a real meal may not be as alluring as grabbing the chocolate chips you are craving, but it will certainly do your body good.
- Whenever you feel the craving strike, go ahead and prepare or warm a full meal. You should feel better in the long run (and you will be thankful you did it).
2. Take Some Time off and Distance Yourself From the Craving Itself by Going Outdoors:
Time Required: 30 Min
What You Need: Comfortable walking shoes.
One of the simplest ways to deal with sugar cravings is to distance yourself from the craving by enjoying time in the outdoors. This is a remedy that works in two ways: the first is, of course, the physical distance that you create between you and the sugar craving. The second advantage is that walking outdoors allows the brain to produce the ‘feel-good’ hormones. Once released in the bloodstream, the hormones, medically referred to as endorphins, help reduce the impulse of the craving. This way, you are better placed to deal with the craving and therefore exercise more self control.
- Strap on your comfortable walking shoes and enjoy the outdoors. It helps to indulge in brisk walking, or light jogging.
- If, for whatever reason, you cannot go brisk walking, make sure you enjoy some light aerobics as this has the same benefits.
3. Drink Plenty of Water:
Time Required: Staggered through out the day.
What You Need: Ample drinking water, ideally 2 liters of warm water 1 tablespoon of freshly squeezed lemon juice and stevia (natural sweetener) – optional.
Sometimes, when sugar cravings strike, all your body needs is to get re-hydrated. Often, the real craving behind the desired sugar rush is water craving. Once hydrated, the body’s ability to exercise restraint as far as sugary treats are concerned is improved remarkably. For quite a number of people, water’s characteristic taste takes some getting used to (particularly if you are not accustomed to taking sips of water through out the day). For this reason, you may add freshly squeezed juice and/or stevia.
- Add the freshly squeezed lemon juice and stevia to the warm water and stir to mix well.
- Transfer the water to your water bottle and make sure you carry it with you. Alternatively place it on your desk where you can sip on the water particularly when the sugar craving strikes.
4. Take Fermented Foods or Drinks:
Time Required: 30 Min
What You Need: Choice fermented foods and/or drinks. Cultured vegetables can also be used.
Fermented foods and/or drinks are one of the most popular remedies for the treatment of sugar cravings. Many people find that eating fermented foods helps keep sugar cravings in check. There is a scientific explanation behind this popular coping mechanism. The presence of micro flora in the fermented foods and drinks digests the sugar present, effectively countering the sugar’s harmful effects in the body. There is a wide array of fermented foods to choose from such as coconut kefir, fermented ginger ale or even fermented chutney.
- Whenever the sugar craving strikes, opt to take fermented foods instead.
- If you must, take a small portion of the desired sugar craving alongside a fermented drink for the aforementioned benefits.
5. Ensure That Your Blood Sugar Levels Remain Constant:
Time Required: 20 Min for each meal.
What You Need: Several small meals in the course of the day, snacks inclusive.
One of the simplest ways to manage sugar cravings (and reduce their frequency), is to eat several small meals during the day. This is recommended in place of 3 large meals. The latter creates gaps between meals, increasing the likelihood of hunger and therefore sugar cravings. The waiting period between meals sets you up to choosing fatty sugary foods and more often than not, impulsive eating. Several small meals on the other hand, cut on this waiting period, thus keeping your blood sugar levels constant. Ideally, your small meals should be packed with fiber, whole grain and white meat to jeep you satiated for longer.
- Pack small meals to cater for your dietary needs during the day.
- Another tip that you could benefit from is ensuring that your carbohydrate intake is restricted to the daytime when you are most active. Decreased carbohydrate intake during the day triggers sugar cravings rather quickly.
- At night, opt for gluten-free foods (preferably the grains).
Time Required: 5 Min
What You Need: Stevia
Stevia’s popularity continues to grow globally, thanks to its health benefits for the body. As a natural sweetener, Stevia works as a better option than many of the sugar-laden snacks available in the market. In fact, stevia has zero calories, making it ideal even for people suffering from diabetes. The best news for sugar addicts, perhaps, is the fact that stevia is more than 300 times sweeter than commercial sugar. If your cravings are extreme, and you really need a sugar fix in your life, stevia is the way to go.
- Take 1/2 a teaspoon of stevia whenever you start to crave.
- Alternatively, add it to your choice beverages as a way to kick the craving.
7. Stay Away From Processed Foods:
Time Required: Varies depending on the dish you opt to prepare.
What You Need: Alternatives for processed foods: Green vegetables work well.
One of the most profound things about processed foods is that they are extremely addictive. In fact, research indicates that processed foods are as addictive as drugs. These findings stem from the results of the effects of processed foods on how lab rats behaved and the effects on the brain. Sugar intake causes the stimulation of a section of the brain that results in the production of dopamine. Dopamine is commonly referred to as the ‘reward’ neurotransmitter, thanks to its functioning in creating a pleasurable sensation.
Following the release of dopamine, sugar users experience euphoria. The challenge sets in when the dopamine levels plummet, resulting in ‘feeling flat’. This creates a whole new craving for the sugar and its ‘feel-good’ effects. The result is a vicious cycle that eventually cayses addiction. To deal with this effectively, it helps to steer clear of processed and sugary foods. Do not leave a void however, as the craving will be very difficult to deal with. In place of sugary treats and processed foods, you may opt to take green vegetables.
- Stock up on fresh green vegetables, preferably those you can snack on while on the go.
8. Opt for Quality Over Quantity When it Comes to Sugar Cravings:
Time Required: 20 Min
What You Need: Mindfulness to weigh your options.
Sometimes it is almost impossible to entirely get rid of sugar cravings. In this regard, you may be required to choose quality over quantity. The main thing here is to keep it minimal. Going cold turkey works for some, but backfires for the majority. Focus on including small amounts, say for instance, settle for a piece of decadent moist cake as opposed to a box of cookies. Quality trumps quantity on any given day.
- Once you have chosen your desired sugar splurge, chew on it as slowly as you can to let the taste sink in.
- After this, proceed to fill your tummy with foods rich in protein and fiber.
9. Chew Gum:
Time Required: 5 Min
What You Need: A stick of gum.
If you are struggling to get rid of sugar cravings, one of the most effective strategies that you can incorporate is chewing on gum. This not only creates satiety, it also gives you some time off to think clearly whether you really need that dark chocolate or are actually hungry (in which case you could do with a full meal). Studies show that chewing gum has the capacity to ward off sugar cravings.
- Chew on a stick of gum for a couple of minutes to keep cravings at bay.
10. Go Cold Turkey:
Time Required: At least 72 Hrs.
What You Need: A mind that’s made up.
Just as the name suggests, this remedy involves cutting out all sugars with immediate effect. the period it takes to get accustomed to the new phase is usually 72 hours, which, understandably, are the toughest hours. For some, this works for a few days, while others find that though the cravings will still be there, they are empowered to be content with far less sugar load. However it works for you, it is worth giving a try.
- Avoid all sugars with immediate effect, over time training your taste buds to deal with less sugar.
If you are really intent in dealing with sugar cravings, you need to know that you need NOT be an addict. Using these remedies and making lifestyle changes will predispose your taste buds to experience the change. Over time, you will do with less sugar, and instead get satisfaction from natural sweetness as found in fruits and vegetables. Take on this attitude to perk up your energy levels and remain energized.