Do you ever feel like you just can’t stop eating sweets no matter how many resolutions you make? If you experience sugar cravings, you might experience a feeling of lack of willpower or guilt. This happens to so many people today with added sugars, and chemicals in most food.
Sugar isn’t bad for you naturally. We evolved to have a sweet tooth, as it played a vital role in human evolution. The problem is the overconsumption of sugar that can lead to negative impacts on your health, including cardiovascular disease and Diabetes II. Sugar cravings aren’t just a lack of willpower, they often are symptoms of blood sugar instability and emotional states.
Sugar has become so readily available that it’s hard to quit. If you follow a holistic strategy for reducing your sugar cravings, you don’t need to strictly control or restrict your sugar intake. You can slowly build a healthier relationship to sweets by finding healthier alternatives and reduce the craving.
1. Blood Sugar Levels
One big step in reducing your cravings is balancing your blood sugar levels throughout the day. If your blood sugar levels are sporadic through the day, it is likely you will crave sugar. As professionals and students, do you ever feel like you just need a frappuccino, bagel, or cookie to get you through the day? When your blood sugar is low, it is common to have low energy levels. Your body responds to the low levels of blood sugar and craves carbohydrates or sugar to help boost your blood sugar levels back up.
• Try to eat an hour after waking up with a satisfying breakfast with healthy fats. • Include protein and fats into each meal. They will keep you fuller for longer and have longer term energy reserves. Avocados, nuts, oils, and seeds are great fats. • Avoid skipping meals. Don’t listen to the diet of 1,200 calories a day or eating only grapefruits for breakfast. When you’re in too much of a caloric deficiency and your blood sugar levels drop, it can lead to overeating and sugar cravings. This is the yo-yo dieting that gets you nowhere. Eat to fuel your body and you can still lose weight and drop your sugar cravings.
2. Bring Healthier Options It can help to have healthier options at home or accessible for long work days. You don’t need to cut sugar fully out of your diet to reduce the craving. Having a healthier alternative can help aid you in not feeling out of control. Let’s say at work people regularly bring cookies and brownies to enjoy, while these aren’t inherently bad, they can aid in creating a habit. Try bringing a homemade treat with natural sweetener, dates, dark chocolate, or maybe a protein bar. For healthier desserts we suggests coconut date bliss balls and baked bananas (see recipe below).
3. Take Note of Your Inner Self Do you get stressed out or sad and reach for ice cream? If so, you might be an emotional sugar eater. For many, this relationship has been engrained in us for a long time. To learn more about emotional eating, check out our past article on our website, Emotional Eating and Comfort Food and Emotional Eating: An Ayurvedic Perspective.
There is a huge link between your emotions and eating high-sugar and high-fat foods. Begin to bring awareness to what emotions you experience when having a craving. Are you feeling stressed? Try some breathing exercises. Are you feeling lonely? Call friends or family or write in your journal. Are you feeling bored? Find an interesting article on a passion of yours and read it.
To change your relationship to sugar, you might need to support your emotional self more.
4. Increase the Sweet Taste Increasing the sweet taste in vegetables will satisfy your taste buds and keep your tissues nourished. Some examples of sweet vegetables are sweet potato, carrots, beets, and squash.
Lack of sleep has been linked to increased sugar and carbohydrates in your diet. The body feels drained and needs the sugar to boost the energy levels. Do you reach for an energy drink, soda, or fruit juice when you’re tired? A study in 2016 showed that people who got five hours of sleep or less showed a 21 percent increased consumption of sugary beverages.
6. Gut Health Gut imbalances can attribute to sugar cravings. If the other tips don’t work, you may have an overgrowth or lack of gut bacteria in your system. It can help to begin a gut healing protocol to clean your body and have more energy.
For more information on the role of sugar in Ayurveda check out: Sugar, Fat, and Ayurveda.