How to Outsmart your Sugar Cravings
We all do it. We finish eating a nice, healthy meal and then reach for a piece of candy afterwards. Or we hit the "afternoon slump" and reach for a candy bar or sugary drink to give us a boost of energy. Why is it so hard to avoid eating sugary treats? We do our best to resist it, but the cravings are so strong that we eventually just give in to them. Is there anything we can do to resist the urge to eat sweets, or are we doomed to be enslaved to our cravings for life?
First of all, let me say that it is totally normal and human to crave sweets. Our bodies are evolved and programmed to desire sweet foods. Will power and white knuckling it through will never be enough. We need to have specific strategies in place for overcoming and working past sugar cravings. Knowing that sugar cravings are natural and normal can help us get past the guilt of having them, and focus instead on what we CAN do to overcome them.
One great way to reduce sugar cravings is to reduce the amount of processed foods you eat. Highly processed, packaged foods contain high amounts of sugar and very few vitamins and nutrients. The simple carbohydrates found in these types of foods break down very quickly in the body and cause us to crave even more when they wear off.
Next, replace those processed foods with whole foods such as fruit, vegetables, and whole grains like brown rice. These naturally sweet, complex carbohydrates break down more slowly in the blood stream, leaving you more satisfied for longer periods of time. Be sure to add plenty of sweet vegetables such as carrots, yams, beets, squash, and corn to your diet.
Drinking more water is another great way to reduce cravings. Dehydration is often mistaken for hunger, so make sure to drink plenty of water between and with your meals. When you have a craving, drink a glass of water first, then wait a few minutes to see if the craving is still there. If it is, look for a healthier version of what you are craving. (My favorite candy bar alternative is a Peanut Butter Cookie Lara Bar. I also love brown rice cakes with a little peanut butter and honey on top.)
Another way to reduce sugar cravings is to use sugar alternatives. Sugar alternatives are found in nature and break down more slowly in the bloodstream. Agave nectar, honey, date sugar, brown rice syrup and molasses are all natural sweeteners that can be used in place of refined sugar. Steer clear of sugar substitutes that are synthetically made and not properly metabolized by the body.
Finally, look for other forms of sweetness in life besides food. Do a fun activity with your family, go out and laugh with your friends, give someone a hug, and fill your life with love and affection. Instead of just being filled with food, try being fulfilled by having an exciting, amazing life!