Do you ever find yourself wanting something sweet after lunch or dinner or late in the afternoon?
Do you think that you might still be hungry or perhaps it’s just become a bad habit?
Sugar is the most common sweetening ingredient added to processed foods and drinks. It can become addictive and adds to total calories consumed, which may not help with weight or fat loss.
A diet high in sugary or highly processed foods and drinks puts your health at risk of insulin resistance, heart disease, weakened immunity and type 2 diabetes.
These foods, which are typically low in protein, cause blood sugar rises, and may even spike and drive blood sugar down to a low state after the meal. Low blood sugar causes fatigue and opens you up to sugar cravings. Poor sleep and hormones also play a role in sugar cravings.
You have 3 options when craving sugar:
1. Push through it but this relies on willpower which is exhausting.
2. Give in and feel guilty about it.
3. Eat a low sugar protein snack.
If you struggle with sweet cravings
Look at what foods and drinks you have had in the previous 24 hours as this may give you an idea of why you are craving sweet. It could be that you drank alcohol or had too many carbs that are not on your plan, you may not have eaten enough or not had enough water and fluids. You may not have slept well so didn’t do your morning workout.
To give you control over your sweet tooth and cravings it’s good to record what you eat and when you eat.
If you struggle with sweet cravings, consider if you have had adequate protein and vegetables throughout the day. If you have not eaten enough of these foods, then your body may be looking for more nutrition that comes from these foods.
Thirst is also important as sometimes we confuse thirst with hunger. Make sure you have full water bottles in the fridge, in your car, at your desk and by your bed – and use them.
Stress, loneliness, and depression can also contribute to wanting a sugary fix. Sugar stimulates the release of dopamine, serotonin and endorphins which all help to improve your mood and make you feel good. Unfortunately, this is only temporary. The temptation is to consume more of these feel-good foods to regain those positive feelings. You need to be aware of the drug-like effect of sweets and chocolate and becoming over reliant on them.
These 8 tips will ensure you have a strategy to get through any sugar craving:
1. Sugar cravings only last up to an hour so find something you love doing and go do it. It might be going for a walk, meditating or a yoga class, call a friend and go for a coffee, or read a book or listen to a podcast.
2. Improve your sleep hygiene so you get 7-9 hours of quality restorative sleep each night.
3. Ensure adequate protein and fat in all meals will keep you satiated.
4. Stay hydrated with water, tea and coffee (before noon), bone broth, soda water, unflavoured mineral water. For extra flavour add lemon, lime or ginger.
5. Strawberries are your best friend. Keep your freezer well stocked.
6. Make a habit of cleaning your teeth after your main meal, and if you use peppermint toothpaste just the taste may curb that sweet craving.
7. Burn your bridges. Throw out or give away all sweet, starchy foods and drinks, even honey. It’s best not to test your willpower.
8. Keep your pantry and fridge well stocked with these healthy foods so you are well prepared just in case you have a sugar craving: Frozen berries, dark chocolate 85%, nuts and seeds, roasted red peppers, beef jerky, avocado, protein powder, and Greek yoghurt or cream.
If you struggle with a sweet tooth or cravings try some of the strategies listed above. Choose 2 or 3 to start with and commit for 4 weeks. Having a sense of control is part of the solution.
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