Sweet tooth? I hear you! Sugar cravings can be one of the biggest roadblocks in a person’s health and wellness journey. They’re powerfully addictive. Studies have shown sugar can be as addicting as cocaine, stimulating the same brain signaling pathways that signal dopamine. And while a little extra sugar consumption may not seem like a big deal, year after year, if these habits continue, the weight can add up. It can also lead to things like obesity, insulin dysregulation, high blood pressure, chronic inflammation, premature aging, and worsening menstrual cycles. High sugar consumption has also been linked to depression and ADHD because it’s stressful to your gut microbiome.
That’s why, while a sweet or two doesn’t hurt, it’s important to head into each day with a plan to resist indulgences that come your way. Aim for progress not perfection. Here are five ways to help curb cravings for good.
1. Curb Cravings By Making Healthier Choices
Did you know eating lots of sugary foods actually makes you want even more sugar? Sugar addiction is real, so enjoying a few sugary cookies here and there will ultimately make you crave more sugar more often. To avoid this, consider increasing your fiber and healthy fats intake and add more lean protein to your diet. Protein can help balance your blood sugar, which helps curb cravings. Fiber can make you feel fuller longer, which can help you resist the urge to overeat or snack on treats. If you’re really battling a craving, try eating a piece of fruit or ½ a cup of berries instead. A few Dr. Libby Weaver recommends these 10 foods to help you battle sugar cravings.
2. Avoid Overeating
This sounds simple, but it’s actually almost too easy to overeat thanks to oversized portions at many restaurants. The best way to keep on track is to make sure you’re eating plenty of dense vegetables and protein to fill you up. And before going for seconds or reaching for another treat, ask yourself, “Am I actually hungry or am I eating this just to eat or out of boredom?”
3. Replace Sugar with Natural Sweeteners
First, artificial sweeteners like (high fructose corn syrup, aspartame, sucralose, and saccharin) have been shown to decrease glucose tolerance, trigger inflammation and negatively affect the gut microbiome. While you should still use natural sweeteners sparingly, they can help you fight some of the sugar cravings you’re having and they’re healthier alternatives. I recommend fruit, cinnamon, stevia, honey and maple syrup (in moderation).
4. Focus on Other “Sweet” Things
Many people associate sweet treats with happiness or joy. “Often our craving for sugar has more to do with an emotional need that isn’t being met,” Dr. Libby Weaver writes. ‘Something sweet’ is often perceived as a symbol of joy and we become conditioned to need something sweet to feel complete or satisfied.” If you can shift your mind to focus on the other things that bring you joy, like spending time with family and friends, you can shift your mind to look forward to other things that “sweeten” your life.
5. Make Sure You’re Getting Plenty of Rest
Even in a busy season of life, getting enough quality sleep is essential. Allowing your body to rest will not only help your mood and energy levels, but it will also help you curb cravings too. Without enough sleep, your body may try to balance itself by craving more sugar and when we’re exhausted or stressed, we’re prone to overeating. There are even several chronic health problems that can be linked to a lack of sleep. You should aim for seven to nine hours of sleep per night to give your body the rest it needs.
BONUS: Supplements That May Help Curb Cravings
While supplements won’t completely get rid of your sugar cravings permanently, they can help support blood sugar regulation. Chromium is one supplement doctors often recommend that has been shown to help regulate blood glucose. Inositol has also been explored for its potential to improve the body’s sensitivity to insulin. As always, be sure to consult your doctor or pharmacist before taking any new supplements.
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