Do you grab a candy bar to cope with your afternoon slump and then reach for a cola to get out of your post-slump slump? Or have you realized that munching sugary snacks makes you crave for more?
Why Should We Reduce Sugar?
- Sugar is called an empty calorie, which means it is a calorie without any nutrients.
- Health professionals believe that it is one of the main reasons why it can be so hard to stick to a healthy diet and maintain a healthy weight.
- There is a belief that sugar restriction is only for diabetics but the facts are quite different. Excess sugar can lead to coronary heart disease, obesity, insulin resistance, metabolic syndrome, PCOS, low immunity, cancer, bone issues, etc.
- Another effect of excessive sugar intake changes in microbial flora. This can lead to bloating, GI issues, heartburn, etc.
The World Health Organization has recently lowered the recommendation for sugar from 10% to no more than 5% of the total caloric intake. This translates to 4-5 teaspoons a day for a 2000 kcal diet.
You must wonder why we keep talking about excess sugar all the time. This is because sugar is addictive in nature. The more you have, the more you want. The taste of sugar releases endorphins that calm and relax us, offering a natural high.
Causes of sugar cravings
- Habitual: Habit can be one of the major causes which are formed deep within our brains
- Hard workout: Many people are likely to experience sugar cravings following a workout. As depleted glycogen stores are likely to crave sugar to replenish it.
- Your diet is not right: The more you eat these simple sugary things, the more your brain will want them, which can continue the vicious cycle of sugar cravings.
- Use of artificial sweetener: The use of these alternative sugars may save on calories but they trick the mind into thinking you ate something that was extremely sweet or far sweeter than sugar. For this reason, the brain will crave for food or beverages that are as sweet as what you had.
- Poor sleep quality: The body needs a certain amount of REM and deep sleep as a way to replenish the mind and body. When you have inadequate amount of sleep, the body is susceptible to craving sweets the next day.
- Stress: High levels of stress can also cause craving. As stress increases cortisol levels, serotonin, which is a calming and relaxing hormone, is released by sugar.
- Meal skipping: Skipping meals can cause you to have sugar cravings due to reduced blood sugar levels.
- Boredom: It’s another reason why we end up eating sugar or sugary products.
- Sugar is hiding everywhere: Sugar is hiding in many foods you would never think of as sweet from bread to pasta.
- Few deficiencies which can cause sugar cravings include:
- Chromium deficiency can cause intense cravings for sugar.
- If your body lacks Magnesium, you may have strong cravings for sugar products especially chocolates.
- Zinc deficiency can result in low insulin levels which may lead to sugar cravings
How to stop sugar Cravings
- Give in a little: Eat a bit of what you are craving for. Enjoying a little of what you love can help you steer clear of feeling denied.
- Try to combine foods: When you crave for sweets, try combining it with a healthy option. For instance, strawberry dipped in chocolate sauce.
- Grab some gum: If you want to avoid giving in to a sugar craving completely try a stick of gum.
- Reach for a fruit: Keep fruit handy when a sugar craving hits! Fruits are rich in fibres and nutrients along with some awesome sweetness!
- Choose quality over quantity: If you crave for sugar, pick a healthier option but keep it small. For instance, dark chocolate with 70% cocoa.
- Eat regularly: Eating meals at regular intervals keeps your blood sugar level stable and help in avoiding irrational eating behavior.
- Skip artificial sweeteners: as they tend to increase your cravings
- Get support: Stress, depression or anger turns people to eating sweet foods. But food doesn’t solve emotional issues.
- Drink a glass of water: Some people say that dehydration can cause sugar cravings
- Eat more protein: as proteins increase your satiety level.
- Sleep well: It is important for overall health and may help prevent cravings.
- Get up and go: When you feel sugar cravings, get up and go for a walk. You can also phone a friend or take a bath to relax.
- Avoid certain triggers like places or activities that induce sugar cravings.
- Eat more fibers: They help to slow the absorption of the food you eat and also help to curb sugar cravings
- Keep and maintain a list of reasons why you want to eat healthy as its hard to remember when you get the cravings.
Few food options to opt for when you get sugar cravings
- Fruits: contain sugar along with lots of healthy nutrients
- Berries: taste sweet but are high in fibre and low in sugar
- Dark Chocolate: swap regular chocolate with dark chocolate
- Snack Bars: are made of whole foods and can make a healthy sweet treat
- Chia Seeds: are high in soluble fibre so you feel fuller for longer
- Cinnamon: because of its sweet taste and it is healthy
- Yoghurt: is high in protein and can control appetite and craving
- Dates: are very sweet and can fix your cravings
- Sweet Potatoes: sweet in taste and give a feeling of fullness
- Smoothies: are another healthy nutrient rich option
- Prunes: are sweet in taste and good for the stomach
- Trail Mix: has the sweetness of dry fruits and nuts with all their benefits
Do Sugar Detox Diets Work?
Sugar Detox Plans urge you to avoid all sweets. That means all fruits, dairy and refined grains. The idea is to purge your system of sugar. Diet changes like this are too drastic to keep up and you will fall back to your old habits. If you make simple changes to your diet, it is easy to keep them up.
Sugar cravings can be a challenging part of your everyday life. When they set in, they can take over your mind in a hurry. Make these small changes which can go a long way and hopefully, they will help you win the battle against your cravings.
We hope this article helps you reduce sugar cravings and make a positive lifestyle change. If this helped, let us know in the comments below. For more on nutrition, click here. If you need help to curb sugar cravings, speak to an expert by subscribing for GOQii’s Personalised Health Coaching here.