If you’re one who craves a slice of cake or a chocolate chip cookie after each meal, then you know what it’s like to be addicted to sugar. We’ve all been warned about the dangers of too much alcohol and drugs, but no one mentions what a struggle it is to crave something sweet after every single meal.
It’s hard to believe that something so satisfying and seemingly harmless can have such a strong effect on our bodies, but sugar can stimulate the same pleasure areas in the brain that drugs do.
The sweetener, in moderation, is obviously less harmful than taking drugs, but too much sugar can have detrimental health effects, such as increased risk of diabetes, mental disorders, and even heart disease and stroke.
If you’re like the many of us who can’t get enough of the sweet treat, it might be time to kick your constant cravings to the curve. To help combat those incessant urges for dessert, try the following seven tips that will get you on track in no time.
1. Rid your house of sugar
If there isn’t any candy in the cabinet, you won’t be able to eat it. “The easiest way to do this without having to spend hours reading labels is to eliminate anything that is packaged, canned, frozen,” says holistic nutritionist Yuri Elkaim.
Sugar is not only found in baked goods and candy, but it also sneaks its way into many processed foods, including tomato sauces, chips, and sauces. Ditching these foods is a quick way to lessen your sugar intake, which will help ease your cravings.
2. Eat some fruit
When the need for sweet hits, opt for something natural, like fruits or dates. These foods won’t cause a drastic rise and drop in blood sugar, keeping your energy level steady and making you less likely to crave more sugar later on. These options are also filled with natural vitamins and minerals, which will help you reach your daily fill.
3. Fill up in the morning
After all night of not eating, your body’s insulin levels are high, explains Elkaim. Eating a hearty meal filled with protein and fat instead of something sweet can help you start of the day with sustainable energy.
This will help keep your blood sugar levels steady and prevent a plummet of energy, making you less likely to reach for that donut during an afternoon slump.
4. Find ways to de-stress
Ever felt so overwhelmed you soothed yourself with a bar of chocolate? “There’s a reason why stress makes many people reach for the junk food,” says Elkaim. “Stress raises your cortisol level, causing hunger…but de-stressing actually reverses that process.”
Instead of turning to dessert when you’re feeling anxious, try working out, doing yoga, or practicing meditation. Controlling your stress levels and focusing on something else can divert your sugar cravings.
5. Nibble throughout the day
Many people reach for sugary foods because their blood sugar levels have dropped or they’re feeling lethargic.
Eating small meals throughout the day, or eating healthy snacks like fruits, vegetables, and nuts between meals, helps keep your blood sugar levels steady, making you less likely to have a sudden craving for sugar.
6. Indulge in small amounts
That’s right, sugar isn’t off limits forever! Allowing yourself to eat a little bit of what you’re craving will keep you from going overboard later on.
Try to stick to foods made with the healthiest sugars possibly, including honey, maple syrup, and coconut sugar. Eating these natural foods will help satisfy your sweet tooth without causing intense desires later in the day.
7. Stick to water
Even if you aren’t a soda drinker, you may be consuming a ton of added sugar in drinks like juices, energy drinks, and coffee. “Sugar in liquid form is even worse for you than sugar in a Twinkie, because it goes almost immediately into your bloodstream,” says Elkaim.
By sticking to water and sugar-free drinks such as tea, you’re less likely to be consuming hidden added sugars, and your glucose levels won’t shoot through the roof. If you opt for juice, make sure it’s fresh and green-based, as smoothies or juices with mainly fruit can be extremely high in sugar as well.