Whether we’re celebrating a birthday, holiday, career success or a relationship, sweet treats are an alluring temptation presented to us throughout the year. It’s difficult to avoid events that involve sugar, and it can be even more challenging to say ‘no’ to sugary goodies, especially when you’re at a party or grabbing a 3pm work break.
If you find yourself struggling with sugar cravings, it’s possible to break the vicious cycle of sugar consumption, blood sugar spikes and subsequent crashes. By quitting the sugar habit, you’ll not only feel better, but also reduce your risk of diseases like cancer and obesity.
Here are our top tips for how to deal with sugar cravings.
Eat a sufficient amount protein
Often times, when we yearn for a sugar or carbohydrate fix, what we really need is a good source of protein. Protein is an important building block and plays an important role in balancing our blood sugar levels. It’s digested at a slower rate than carbohydrates, and protein-rich foods are usually low on the glycemic index.
In addition to blood sugar management, protein aids in digestion and hormone production, builds muscle and connective tissue, encourages detoxification, and nourishes the nervous system. Whether you are vegan or not, consume clean sources of protein including non-GMO tofu, nuts, seeds, beans, legumes, fish, and organic, grass-fed meat and poultry.
Keep your blood sugar balanced
When we consume sweet foods, our blood sugar levels spike and give us that ‘sugar rush’. But what goes up, must come down and when we crash – we crash hard, leaving us sluggish and desperate for another sugar fix. Stabilize your blood sugar by consuming meals that include a mix of complex carbohydrates, fibre, healthy fats and protein. Since these all take time to break down and absorb, this will keep your blood sugar levels even and reduce your cravings for sugar, plus help balance hormones and curtail your risk of obesity and diabetes.
Stay well hydrated
Our bodies need enough water to perform a multitude of daily functions. Water improves digestion and elimination, reduces pain, lubricates our joints, fuels our cells, transport chemical messengers throughout the body, enhances kidney function and keeps us feeling energized.
Studies show that adequate hydration before meals can help you feel more full, which prevents overeating and may lead to weight loss. When you feel satiated, you’re less likely to reach for that cookie or a slice of cake.
Get enough sleep
Sleep deprivation increases the production of a hormone called ghrelin, or ‘the hunger hormone’. In one study, researchers restricted participants to only four hours of sleep per night. Afterwards, when scientists flashed pictures of healthy and unhealthy foods, the junk food shots of pizza and candy activated the reward centers in the brains of the participants. This indicates that we’re more likely to make unhealthy choices when what we really crave is sleep.
Ensure you get at least 7-8 hours per night, and you may find your sugar cravings greatly reduce or disappear entirely. If you’re having trouble sleeping, check out these sleep-soothing tips.
Sip a cup of tea
Before snatching a sugary treat, try brewing up a cup of tea first. By the time you boil the water and let your tea steep for a bit, your craving may have subsided. Further keep the craving at bay by using a blood sugar balancing spice such as cinnamon, ginger or turmeric, or adding a daub of a healthy fat like coconut or ghee. For a satisfying cuppa, try this yogi tea that will also make your house smell like happiness.
Don’t keep sugary treats in the house
The best way to beat sugar cravings is to not buy treats in the first place; that way, you’re less likely to be tempted. Instead, stock your fridge and pantry with fresh vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds, spices, teas and gluten-free grains that you can consume when sugar cravings or hunger strikes.
Try chromium-rich foods
Chromium isn’t a mineral that many of us have heard of, but it’s essential for blood sugar management. Research indicates that chromium can improve blood glucose levels in diabetics, lower hunger levels and encourage weight loss, and may reduce the risk of Type 2 diabetes.
You can find chromium in oats, broccoli, green beans, tomatoes, black pepper, romaine, asparagus, mushrooms and prunes.
Swap in natural sweeteners
If you’re using a sweetener, skip the refined white sugar an opt for an alternative sweetener such as raw honey, maple syrup, stevia, dates or coconut sugar. These sweeteners are rich in vitamins, minerals and antioxidants, and they’re a much better choice when cooking or baking.
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