Does that morning muffin or danish leave you craving yet another sweet one to two hours later? Do you pick up a candy bar or bag of M&M’s to deal with your afternoon slump?
Once you have started the sugar roller coaster, it is just going to leave you craving more and more sugary snacks. Eating simple sugars, without the presence of proteins or fat, will quickly bring up your blood sugar level and satisfiy your short term sugar craving, but just as quickly leaves your system and you are left starving all over again!
So what’s the solution to battling those sugar cravings?
First lets talk about why we go for sweets in the first place. Carbohydrates stimulate the release of the feel-good chemical serotonin. Carbohydrates are classified in two forms, simple and complex. Sucrose, or table sugar, is a simple sugar. Other foods contain different forms of sugar, such as fruits, whole grains, and vegetables.
Sugar can give us a natural “high”. This is due to the release of endorphins that help to calm and relax us.
You also have the taste factor, sweets just taste good. That preference for sweets gets reinforced by rewarding ourselves with sweet foods, which will make you crave them even more.
With all those things working against us, who wouldn’t crave sugar.
Having an occasional sweet isn’t where the problem lies. It is when we over-consume them. Sugar is added to so many processed foods, and many people aren’t even aware of it. Things like bread, yogurt, and juices can all contain additional sugars. As a nation, we consume an average of 22 teaspoons of sugar per day, according to the American Heart Association. The American Heart Association recommends limiting added sugars to approximately 6 teaspoons per day for women and 9 teaspoons per day for men.
So How Do We Stop Sugar Cravings? Here are 8 tips you can put into place immediately:
1. Don’t always be so strict. Eat a small amount when you are craving something. Don’t buy a gallon of ice-cream; go out to an ice-cream store and have a small cup, so there isn’t more waiting in your freezer to temp you. If you like chips, buy the small bag while waiting in the check out line at the grocery store. Don’t buy 25 small bags from BJ’s, then you know more than 1 is getting in. Try to keep your cheat calories to around 150 calories.
2. Combine foods. Try combining a food craving with a healthy food. Have a chocolate covered strawberry or try some trail mix, which has healthy nuts and a small amount of chocolate. When you add fat or protein with the sugar, it is slower release of sugar into your bloodstream, helping to control cravings.
3. Try going cold turkey. This doesn’t work for everyone, but after the first 48-72 hours of cutting out all sugars, your cravings will diminish. If you are a true sweets craver, the first 2 days might be tough, but will be worth it when the sweets are no longer in control.
4. Try chewing gum. Sometimes chewing a stick of gum can subside a sugar craving.
5. Grab some natural sugar from fruit. Fruit is a healthier option to keep handy when a craving hits. Fruit has the benefit of fiber and nutrients, and some natural sweetness. Go for fruit that is higher in fiber and has the skin on, like apples, pears, plums, berries, versus pineapple, melons or canned fruit.
6. Get moving. If a craving hits, go outside for a walk. Simply doing something to change the scenery can be enough to switch your gears away from the craving.
7. Shoot for quality not quantity. If you are giving in to a craving, make it a delicious one. But keep it small. Savor every bite – and eat slowly. Don’t try to avoid your favorites, because if you avoid them for too long, you will be back for a larger portion.
8. Don’t wait too long between meals or skip meals. Waiting too long between meals can set you up to choose sugary, fatty foods that cut your hunger. Eating every 3-4 hours can help maintain a more normal blood sugar and avoid irrational food choices. Stick with protein, fiber rich foods like whole grains and produce.
Have extra Halloween candy?
Heres a great tip to help you get rid of your extra Halloween candy; donate your extra candy to our troops overseas or recovering in a military hospital. There is a program called Operation Gratitude, go on their website and follow the instructions. The address is listed below:
Operation Gratitude/California Army National Guard
17330 Victory Boulevard
Van Nuys, CA 91406
Attn: Angel Cuevas/Receiving (800) 651-8031