How to finally get rid of your sugar cravings!
Published on June 23, 2022
Did you know the average Canadaian consumes over 20 teaspoons of added sugars per day! If you are like so many who crave sweets during times of stress or to bring energy up – it is time to put this bad habit to a stop! Over indulgence in sugars leads to belly fat storage, fatigue and irritability and can eventually contribute to other future disease processes such as heart disease and Type II diabetes.
WHY DO WE CRAVE?
Sweets are actually the first tastes that humans prefer. When eating sweets in the form of carbohydrates or refined sugar, the “good feel” chemical in the brain called seratonin and endorphins are released. These chemicals relax us, make us feel good and on a “natural high” but.... unfortunately leave us craving for more. It is that old rule of what goes up, must come down! The issue is not having sweets on occassion – the issue is when we start making it a daily habit. The North Americaln diet is filled to the brim with processed flours and sugars and it is wreaking havoc on own systems - body weight, immune system and overall energy levels.
In addition - processed sugars tend to bounce blood sugars and "over ring" the insulin bell in your body. Have you ever wondered why you experience that 3pm slump? It is because your blood sugars are beginning to drop from eating a lunch filled with processed flours, sugars and other hard to digest foods. When your blood sugars drop - your brain is signalled it needs sugar fast and you begin to crave. Unfortuantely - you do not crave an egg or some baby carrots - you are on the hunt for a sugary coffee, muffin or cookie!
SO WHAT CAN WE DO?
In order to stop the roller coaster of sugar cravings once and for all - follow these simple tips;
1) Stop cold turkey! – There is no sense in weaning yourself down on sugar. I highly recommend going cold turkey (and yes, going thru a couple of uncomfortable days) and substituting with natural alternatives such as apple slices, dates, apricots, berries and frozen fruit in a smoothie. Do not be scared to eat fruit! Fruit offers natural sugars that are anti-inflammatory, will not fluctuate blood sugars and can help kick any sweet tooth fast.
2) Perform a cupboard audit. Take the time to look thru your cupboards and read thru ingredients. Ingredients are listed in order of most to least. If you see the words sugar or a word that ends in "ose" - that is sugar! So you can visualize - 1 tsp of sugar = 4grams. So if you drink a soda that has 30 grams of sugar - that is over 7 teaspoons of sugar. For a general rule, added sugars should not make up more than 5% of your total daily caloric intake.
3) Drink sweet flavoured water – i.e. add oranges, lemons or limes to water and drink up when craivng!
4) Avoid artificial sweeteners – they do not appear to help with sugar cravings and seem to have a negative effect on the obesity epidemic we are facing.
5) Use naturally sweet spices such as nutmeg, cinnamon and cardamom.
6) Opt for a healthy trail mix or granola for a little natural sweet treat. Click here for recipe.
7) Include protein in each and every meal. Protein helps to stablize blood sugar and can put a stop to that up and down blood sugar bounce that leaves us feeling foggy, tired and causes weight gain. For women - I typically recommend 3-5 ounces of protein and for men, it can be 4-6 ounces of protein per meal. To visualize - a deck of cards is approximately 3 ounces of protein.
8) Watch your intake of processed flours. Basically -the body treats processed flours (i.e. breads, pastas, white rice) as sugar. Processed flours and sugars are high on the glycemic index and will cause cravings for more. Stick to whole grain options and as we get older, try to minimize grain in the diet.