Sugar Cravings and the Easiest Way to Stop Them
(and why you're getting them).
It seems that every client I speak to at the moment has sugar cravings. Perhaps it's the post-Easter aftermath of too many chocolate eggs and hot cross buns or the warmer weather and the lure of rose and ice-cream.
There's one thing I know about sugar cravings. The more you eat it the more you want it.
The problem with sugar is that it's highly addictive. Sugar increases the production of dopamine, which stimulates the reward system of pleasure. This stimulation is often short-lived and leaves us wanting more.
So my number 1 tip to freeing yourself of sugar cravings is to eat less of it, especially first thing in the morning.
If you start your day with a high amount of sugar (refined carbohydrates count as sugar) you will inevitably crave sugar for the rest of the day.
Ideas for a balanced breakfast include:
My recommendation to my clients is to limit their sugar consumption to a maximum of six teaspoons a day.
(Fruit doesn't count, but I don't recommend more than 2 portions of fruit a day).
1 teaspoon of sugar = 4g of sugar
If you check the label of everything you eat and look at the 'carbohydrates of which sugars' you'll be able to calculate how much sugar you're consuming. You may be surprised some of the places you find sugar, like in sauces and yogurts.
By reducing refined carbs and sugar you will consume more proteins and fats which make your meals more satiating. If you are eating enough protein and fat you shouldn't experience sugar cravings. Sure, we may fancy something sweet, but in a 'balanced' way.
We all know that eating too much sugar is bad for us, these are just a few of the known issues that arise from consuming excess sugar:
● high blood pressure
● high cholesterol
● heart disease
● type 2 diabetes
● gallbladder disease
● sleep apnea or insomnia
● kidney disease
● degenerative arthritis
● some types of cancer
● irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)
but because of the addictive quality of it and the way it is normalised by society it can be hard to admit, or even realise, being addicted to it.
I don't eat loads of sugar generally. But I do LOVE 90% dark chocolate, and we also make lots of yummy healthier treats for the girls like chocolate chip cookies (recipe here)
or vegan snickers bar (pictured above, recipe here
) which I inevitably end up enjoying too.
I don't think there's too much wrong with enjoying a little bit of something sweet, but you know when it's become a bad habit when you've barely finished your last mouthful of a meal and you're cracking the dark chocolate open.
I've totally given up sugar before and I've found it a really useful exercise to reset my sugar cravings - it's literally incredible how sweet vegetables start to taste.
Whilst I am going 100% all in what might be a realistic starting point for you?
I recommend you start with reducing your sugar content to no more than 6 teaspoons of added sugar a day. The funny thing is, the less you eat of it, the less you'll want it, so it might be easier than you expect.
Here are some ideas to lower your sugar content and therefore stop sugar cravings:
- Go at least 10% higher on the cocoa % in your chocolate - if you currently eat milk chocolate move to 70% dark chocolate and continue to push the % higher every time you buy a new bar of chocolate, or make your own 'healthy chocolates' (recipe here).
- Ditch the empty calories found in sweetened beverages (bottled juice is PURE sugar, and don't kid yourself that you're getting a dose of vitamin C - it has been pasteurised - just eat the real fruit with the fiber still intact!)
- Choose healthier sweet treats. Sugar is sugar at the end of the day, but there are better options. I encourage my clients to opt for more natural sugars like coconut sugar, maple syrup, or my favourite: brown rice syrup. I recommend brown rice syrup because it contains no fructose, only glucose and there's a good amount of research indicating that it's the fructose part of sugar that causes the greatest amount of issues. You can download an e-book of my favourite healthier chocolate treats here.
- Drink plenty of water, aim for at least 1.5 liters a day.
- Eat protein and fat rather than carbs and sugar. If you fancy a snack instead of reaching for a biscuit have a handful of nuts, swap your lunchtime sandwich for a salad, rather than eating a whole bowl of pasta make the pasta the side portion, and fill your plate with protein, fat, and veggies.
Hoping that this is helpful and that you can feel free from sugar cravings. It sucks to feel beholden to anything. If you feel you need additional support you can book a 1-1 health consultation with me here.