15 Ways To Curb Sugar Cravings
Do you constantly crave sugar and carbohydrates?
Do you tell yourself, "I'll just have one treat today and I'll get back on track tomorrow"?
It's normal to become frustrated when trying to fight sugar cravings with willpower. Instead, check out these suggestions for ways to prevent and combat cravings.
1. Be prepared
"By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail."- Benjamin Franklin
Start the week off right by trying to do your best to plan out your meals, grocery shop, have easy to access healthy snacks (at home and at work), and by clearing out the junk food from your kitchen.
2. Avoid foods high in carbohydrates and sugar
Have you ever noticed that the more carbs you eat, the more you crave? Try to eliminate any processed carbs or switch to healthier alternatives. For example, try some of these swaps:
- Zucchini noodles in place of pasta
- Low carb tortillas in place of bread
- Cauliflower rice in place of rice
- Protein shake mixed with coffee in place of a sugary iced latte
3. Keep your blood sugar stable
If you have a tendency to skip or go too long between meals, you might notice that you start to feel lethargic, short tempered, and extremely hungry. This is the body's way of telling you that you need energy...quick! Without much thought it's easy for us to go for 1. whatever is available (ooo, that vending machine is right down the hall).... 2. full of carbs or sugar (hey, donuts in the break room!)... and then, 3. we eat it as fast as possible.
Instead, aim for protein rich meals and snacks every few hours to keep your body fueled and your blood sugars balanced.
4. Increase your protein intake
It's easy to think that we're getting plenty of protein in our diet, however how often do you just have oatmeal for breakfast, eat a piece of fruit for snack, opt for pasta at dinner, or have a late night carb indulgence (popcorn anyone)? Most of the foods just mentioned have little to no protein in them. Aim to include protein with every meal and snack, even if it's just a hard boiled egg or a slice of cheese.
5. Have plenty of greens
The wonderful thing about greens is that they can go on the side of just about anything that we eat and are full of water and fiber, two key components to help you feel full longer. Try zucchini noodles with meat sauce, cucumber slices instead of crackers, or a side salad with dinner.
6. Replace carbs with healthy fats
No, fat is not the enemy. Sure... fried foods, processed baked goods, and that sugary whipped cream on a latte aren't the healthiest options, but not all fat should be treated the same way. Fat has a lovely way of making things taste delicious all while helping to slow the digestive process (and thus minimizing how quickly you get hungry again). Choose healthy fats such as nuts and seeds, avocado, olive oil, or fish to garnish your meals and snacks.
7. Stay hydrated
It's true, sometimes we aim for a snack when we're actually just thirsty! To combat unnecessary cravings, aim for 48-64 ounces of water (or more) per day. Not a fan of plain water? Squeeze some lemon, add a sprig of mint, or a few slices of cucumber to your water for a tasty beverage.
8. Want some sugar? Eat the opposite
Instead of reaching for something sweet impulsively, try having a bit of protein first. That way, if you are actually hungry, you'll body will get a healthy option first. If it's really just a craving, eating protein first will help slow digestion and take up some of your pouch space so you can't eat as much of that treat.
9. Naturally satisfy your sweet tooth
Rather than indulging in that easy-to-grab piece of candy, try satisfying that sweet craving with some fresh fruit, a homemade protein shake, or another healthy snack.
10. If you're feeling down, treat yourself to something other than carbs
Often times when we're feeling down, our serotonin levels can be to blame. Help increase your levels naturally with exercise, adequate sleep, a good laugh with friends, or by treating yourself to a warm bath or massage.
11. Use the H.A.L.T. method
- STOP what you're doing
- Drink 1-2 cups of water
- Spend 5 minutes doing something else
- And ask yourself: Am I Hungry, Angry, Lonely, or Tired? If you are feeling emotional, try exploring a new way to manage the feeling without food. But if you're hungry, go for something healthy before opting for the indulgence.
12. Manage Stress
When feeling stressed, our bodies produce higher levels of the hormone cortisol which can induce cravings for sugar and carbs. Explore ways to manage stress with breathing techniques, talking with a friend, yoga, exercise, music, or a good book.
13. Spend an extra hour in bed
Studies have shown that a lack of sleep may cause us to eat an extra 300-400 calories the next day. And in order to keep levels high we tend to choose sugary or starchy quick-fixes. Create a nourishing bedtime routine where you’re regularly getting 6+ hours of sleep each night.
14. Plan for when you get stuck
If you know that despite your best intentions, you eat a candy bar every afternoon, or you over-indulge on restaurant meals most weekends, plan for it. Be gently honest with yourself and accept that this is where you are right now. Once you acknowledge where you get stuck, you can bring support to help you shift your behavior. This may mean creating a ritual, something you do at 4 p.m. besides eating a piece of candy. The power of ritual can be enough momentum to move you through tricky times.
15. Trigger situations
Whether it’s when going to see a movie in the theaters (how can you possibly watch a film without popcorn or a bag of sweets in your hands?) or the last hours of the day when you are curled up in front of the TV and ice cream seems the only appropriate reward for all your hard work — your personal triggers may be deeply ingrained.
Changing the pattern could be as simple as pre-ordering your movie tickets online and bringing a healthy snack (ex. Moon Cheese, diced up protein bars, or some crunchy caramel snacks) or knitting to keep your hands occupied while watching TV.
16. Trigger people
Are there certain ‘eating partners’ — people who make it really hard to say no to second helpings or a slice of cake — in your life?
Does your office have a ‘feeder’ who continually brings in cakes and sweets for everyone to share, but who rarely touches the stuff herself or himself?
Are you married to the sugar monster who constantly brings home sweet treats?
Being aware of your own trigger people is important. You may even need to have a polite and gentle conversation with these individuals to help them understand your goals and how they might support you.
17. Just say no
Peer pressure can be one of your greatest challenges in the drive to cut out sugar. Just remember that 'No, thank you' is a complete sentence and you don't need to elaborate if you don't want to!
If you find that hunger and craving control continues to be a challenge for you, you may want to speak to your physician or weight loss surgeon about medication support. Continue to try new strategies and set yourself up for success! The journey isn't always easy but the destintation will be worth it!