Spoiler Alert: The First Couple Of Days Are The Hardest
Because sugar is so addictivestudies show that it’s as addictive as cocaine you might even experience some withdrawal symptoms in addition to cravings. “These symptoms usually occur in the first few days and can include headaches, stomach upset, irritability, and fatigue,” says Seti. “They will pass, so stick with it!”
With that in mind
Know How To Tough Out Cravings And Withdrawal Symptoms
For me, gentle exercise and getting lots of sleep also helped immensely. Getting my fill of adaptogenic herbs also helped balance my mood swings and appetite, since they help regulate our cortisol .
Maguire adds that in cases of extreme cravings, your best strategy is to allow your body to indulgethe healthy way. “The body is looking to satisfy the reward center in the brain,” she explains. “If you find that any craving hits, then reaching for good low-sugar snacks such as dark chocolate , nut butter, nuts and seeds, or berries with Greek yogurt can kill the cravings.”
Incorporate foods and beverages that are bitter into your diet to help reset your taste buds and fight cravings.
Donuts And Other Sweets Are Common Sources Of Added Sugar
If you usually have a hankering for something sweet after meals, find it hard to pass up dessert, or rely on sugar-filled coffee drinks for an afternoon pick-me-up, youre not alone. A study published in June 2017 in Appetite found that 86 percent of people who had food cravings thought about high-calorie foods specifically, those containing chocolate.
The good news: Reaching for healthy foods high in nutrients like protein and fiber can help stave off unhealthy hankerings.
Here are some of the foods that can help keep cravings for sugar at bay:
- Seeds, such as sesame and chia
- Pulses, such as beans, lentils, and chickpeas
Below, find a full list with the scientific reasons why they may be effective. Plus, learn more about what may be behind your sugar cravings in the first place.
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Side Effects Of Eating Too Much Sugar
While sugar is satisfying to the taste buds and the soul, the constant spikes in blood sugar and crashes that follow a binge can set off a host of effects, including fatigue, irritability, and anxious thoughts, among others, according to Sanford Health.
Blood sugar highs and lows can also perpetuate sugar cravings. When you’re consuming sugar, then you end up getting onto this whole roller-coaster ride of blood sugar dysregulation and that in and of itself can perpetuate physical stress, which then causes you to have more sugar cravings, says Dana Elia, RDN, an integrative and functional nutrition doctor in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, and author of The Sugar Detox Diet for 50+.
Added sugar, which Americans tend to eat too much of, can be particularly insidious for health. According to a November 2016 study in the journal Nutrients, consuming too much can increase the risk for obesity, heart disease, type 2 diabetes, nonalcoholic fatty liver disease, cognitive decline, and certain types of cancer.
The 20152020 U.S. Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend limiting added sugar intake to a maximum of 10 percent of your daily calories. This is the equivalent of 200 calories, or 12 teaspoons , if youre eating 2,000 calories per day. One can of Coke contains about 9 tsp of sugar, for example.
Ways To Curb Your Sugar Cravings
The good news about the link between body chemistry and cravings is that there are other ways to stimulate the release of your well-being hormones and to keep them at steady levels. Here are some suggestions:
1. Exercise regularly. One of the healthiest ways to experience better living through better brain chemistry is to exercise vigorously, an average of 20 minutes a day. I never realized how much endorphins could be stimulated by exercise until I experienced this phenomenon. During the planning of this book, I was treated for colon cancer. One day, at the peak of my double-whammy dose of chemotherapy and radiation, I experienced a common side-effect of these treatments: extreme depression. It was the most awful feeling I have ever had, yet I was determined not to let the depression propel me into inertia. I wanted to do something about it. I forced myself to do a vigorous 20-minute workout on my home treadmill. At the end of the 20 minutes, I felt like a new person. The endorphin rush was obvious. The wonderful thing about the brains natural narcotics is that they give you the feelings of well-being without the unpleasant side effects. So, when you feel a carbo craving coming on, go take a brisk walk outside instead of running to the refrigerator. Do this often enough and youll find yourself craving the exercise rather than the sweet snack.
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Do Sugar Cravings Come From Low Blood Sugar
Carbs such as white breads, cakes and pastas, are quickly converted to sugar. When you eat a lot of carbs your body starts to break them down to glucose. This is the form of sugar that your body needs to function. When you eat a lot of these foods your blood sugar can drop to low levels. These low blood sugar levels can cause cravings for sweets. If youve tried and failed to lose weight before, you might be trying to lose it by counting calories. You might be eating a lot of healthy fats and proteins, as well as lots of vegetables and fruit. These foods arent as easy to break down as carbs, which is why your body is going to need to pull it from somewhere. Its a vicious cycle and can really mess with your diet. The easiest way to avoid these sugar cravings is to keep a steady level of glucose in your bloodstream. This can be done through regular exercise, and eating a balanced diet. A healthy balance of healthy fats, proteins, and carbohydrates is the best way to avoid cravings. The less processed your diet is the better. If you want to avoid these sugar cravings your best bet is to choose food that is low in carbs and easily digestible. This includes things like whole grains, nuts, and legumes.
Is It Worth It In The Long Term
Visualizing the long-term consequences of snacking or otherwise indulging can help some people to curb cravings.
These consequences may include:
- feeling reduced levels of energy and happiness throughout the day
This exercise can also help a person to see the big picture and remember why they are dieting or trying to restrict their intake of certain foods.
Stress can play a role in hunger cravings, and long-term stressors can cause some people to crave foods that are sugary or more calorie-dense.
Finding ways to reduce stress may help to eliminate cravings.
Simple means of reducing stress, such as taking regular breaks from work, or even taking a few deep breaths, can help the body to refocus and calm the mind.
It may also help to try mindful stress-relieving practices, such as:
- breathing exercises
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Remember: Lifes Too Short To Not Eat Sweets
Hear me out. Eating high-sugar foods occasionally is totally fine. While there are many benefits to a sugar-free diet and lifestyle, being too fixated on clean eating can lead to an unhealthy relationship with food down the road.
Dont get me wrong: limiting added sugar in our diet is important to our long-term health and wellness. But a holistically healthy lifestyle means looking at things big picture, and sugary foods eaten in moderation can be a part of a healthy diet. Especially when weve implemented sustainable habits like prioritizing sleep, movement, and our mental health.
My personal strategy for how to curb sugar cravings is to eat a little sugar every once in a while like its no big dealbecause the way you think about food affects the nutrition you take in. Mind blown. So now that some of the shame and fear around eating sugar is hopefully dispelled, lets talk about strategies for how to curb your sugar cravings and incorporate these sweet snacks into your healthy-living diet.
Hidden Sugars To Avoid
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During a sugar detox, you want to avoid snacks that are high in sugars or highly processed . But, there are less obvious foods that are better left on the shelf and out of your diet. For example, some healthy foods like packaged granola contain lots of added sugars, as well as partially hydrogenated oils. There are hidden sugars in many of our packaged convenience foods. And often, many of these dont necessarily taste particularly sweet, explains OConnor. Some wheat bread, for instance, may contain barley malt and other ‘sugars,’ such as honey to balance the flavor, but we dont consider this dessert.”
Granola bars, and even protein bars, also often masquerade as something healthier than they are. While some energy bars are formulated to be low in sugars and high in protein and/or healthy fats, there are so many that contain an excess of added sugars, chemicals, and fillers we dont need. So, youve got to read those labels, advises OConnor. Rather than decipher through a laundry list of ingredients, make your own trail mixjust be sure to limit the dried fruit because its concentrated in sugars.
Also, be aware of drinking too much alcohol. It’s less satisfying than food but still adds a lot of calories to our day with its hidden sugars. “Not only that,” says O’Connor, but “alcohol impairs our judgment, so we tend to eat ‘more freely’ as opposed to sticking to moderation.”
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How Does Protein Affect Blood Sugar
Protein is one of three macronutrients that provide our bodies with calories to supply us with energy. The other two are carbohydrates and fats, and each of these three affects your blood sugar differently.
Carbs cause your blood sugar levels to rise right after you eat, causing the pancreas to release insulin for transporting the sugar into blood cells. Fats, on the other hand, dont have an immediate impact on blood sugarbut eating a high-fat meal can slow down your digestion and impair insulins ability to transport sugars into your cells.
Protein helps to control blood sugar levels by helping to slow down digestion, increasing satiety , and reducing post-meal blood sugar spikes by reducing the rate at which your cells absorb sugar.
Balance Your Blood Sugar Levels
If your blood sugar is swinging from high to low throughout the day, its likely that you are going to crave sugar. When your blood sugar is low, its common to experience low energy levels along with carbohydrate or sugar cravings to help get your blood sugar back up.
A few strategies to prevent blood sugar spikes and drops include:
- Eat your breakfast within one hour of waking up. When you wake up in the morning, your blood sugar is lower because you have been fasting all night. If you eat within one hour of waking up, it helps to stabilize your blood sugar and insulin levels.
- Include protein and healthy fats with each meal to help stabilize your blood sugar
- Avoid skipping meals. Your blood sugar will start dropping, which can lead to overeating or sugar cravings
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Eat More Fruit Instead Of Refined Sugar
Fruit is great for satisfying your sugar cravings without eating processed sugar. Although fruit contains natural sugar, it also has plenty of fiber, which helps control your blood sugar levels. However, the natural sugar fruit contains does add up, so its best to limit your fruit intake to 2-3 servings per day. Add in sweeter vegetables, like sweet potatoes.
Tips On How To Curb Sugar Cravings
1: Eat more protein and healthy fats: Protein and healthy fats can help to stabilize blood sugar levels, which can in turn help to reduce sugar cravings. Try incorporating more protein-rich foods into your diets such as lean meats, poultry, fish, tofu, beans, lentils, eggs, nuts, and seeds. And make sure to include healthy fats as well such as avocados, olive oil, nuts, and seeds.
Eating more protein and healthy fats can help to stabilize your blood sugar levels and reduce your sugar cravings. Try incorporating more protein-rich foods into your diet, such as lean meats, poultry, fish, tofu, beans, lentils,
2: Avoid processed foods and added sugars: Processed foods and foods high in added sugar are often the culprits behind sugar cravings. To help reduce your cravings, avoid or limit your intake of processed foods and foods that contain added sugars. instead, opt for whole, unprocessed foods such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean protein.
Sugar cravings are often caused by processed foods and foods high in added sugar. To reduce your cravings, avoid or limit your intake of processed foods and foods that contain added sugars. Instead, opt for whole, unprocessed foods such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean protein.
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Nutritip: No Sweet Rewards
How many parents, desperate to get some broccoli into their preschooler, promise candy for dessert if the vegetables get eaten? This is an unwise nutritional bargain. It teaches children to dislike their veggies and value their sweet treats. Besides, when your child gets older, there will be no one standing over her to encourage her to eat the good food first.
3. Drink, drink, drink. Not alcohol, but water. Your stomach doesnt have to be full of food to suppress cravings. Water will do the trick. Drinking at least eight 8-ounce glasses of water throughout the day will trick your body into thinking it is satisfied. Carry around a bottle of water to sip. Herbal teas are also good.
4. Eat a healthy breakfast. Give your brain the best start by beginning each day with a balanced breakfast of complex carbohydrates and proteins, the biochemical partners that not only enhance learning and behavior for school and work, but also stimulate the brains neurotransmitters to contribute to a feeling of lasting well-being. People who start the day with a healthy breakfast are less likely to experience a blood sugar dip and carbo craving later in the morning. People who skip breakfast are more likely to overeat the rest of the day.
5. Cut back on caffeine. Caffeine can trigger a drop in blood sugar. That morning doughnut with coffee can leave you desperate for another doughnut an hour later. Substitute fruit juice or herbal tea for the coffee, and the doughnuts wont look so tempting.
How To Stop Cravings
Cravings for sweets can be very frustrating for people, especially when you are trying to lose weight or watch your sugar intake. The best way to stop cravings is to get a handle on the root cause of the cravings. This is especially true if youre suffering from a sugar addiction, which can be more challenging to overcome. The best way to stop sugar cravings is to get a handle on the root cause of the cravings. Sugar cravings are often caused by emotions, so using mindfulness and meditation can help. This can be achieved through guided meditation, or simply taking a short break and listening to music to distract you. A healthy diet is also important. And dont forget to exercise this is a great way to burn some of those excess calories and tackle stress.
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Just Run Away From Your Cravings
For this trick, you can accomplish two healthful things at once: Calm the craving and get in a workout. A study published in PLOS One showed that short bouts of physical activity reduced cravings for sugary snacks among overweight individuals. I also see clients reap a mental benefit here. When youre proactive about doing something good for you, the not-good-for-you something suddenly becomes less appealing.
Dont Overindulge In Sweeteners
Studies suggest that overeating sweetened foods, even sugar-free ones, may reinforce or increase your dependence on sugar and sweet foods .
Resist the temptation to replace eating lots of sugary foods with eating lots of sugar-free-sweetened foods instead, focus on eating a well-rounded diet with appropriate macros and indulging in treats once or twice each day, or even just a few times a week.
While this isnt necessarily an issue for everyone, it sometimes pays to take a break from sweets altogether and rebalance your palate. After a few weeks or a month, you can try coming back to keto-friendly sweets and enjoy a healthier relationship with this type of food.
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Give Into Your Craving Then Move On
“If a craving for something sweet like a piece of chocolate or a scoop of ice cream persists, just have it,” says Jessica Levinson, MS, RDN, CDN, and author of 52-Week Meal Planner. “Trying to satisfy cravings with other ‘healthier’ foods or restricting yourself from having a food you’re craving often leads to overeating. As is often said, the forbidden fruit tastes the sweetest.” So, eat your piece of cake, don’t feel bad, and then move on.
Enjoy A Piece Of Fruit
“I don’t know if it’s possible to eradicate sugar cravings because they’re part of being human. But I do think that nature gave us fruit for a reason,” Largeman-Roth says. “It’s naturally sweet and loaded with fiber to help us feel full. It also delivers a host of benefits, including antioxidants that help our bodies and skin stay young and healthy.” Training your body to crave fruit instead of processed sugar will be greatly beneficial to your overall health.
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