Updated: Mar 9
If you decided to kick the sugar habit, that is great news! Sugar cravings have been compared to drug addiction, in that giving up sugar can initially result in physical and mental withdrawal symptoms, and its hold on you is far more reaching than you may have ever realized.
In fact, we have all been told for years that dietary fat was the main cause of heart disease and stroke, but studies are now finding that sugar causes inflammation in your body and therefore plays a huge role in cardiovascular disease. Sugar is also linked to increased risk of cancer, gut issues, and other illnesses and diseases!
It is important to note that even if you decide to reduce your sugar intake, it doesn’t mean that you have to give up the occasional treat. However, many people find that once they “get off sugar,” the temptation for sweet treats decreases significantly as the cravings go away. The main thing is to make the decision to reduce your sugar intake, and your body will follow your lead.
Another important thing to remember is that sugar is not only found in treats and soda, it is also found in white bread, white rice and pasta, fruit juices, and fruit yogurts, to name a few. Following a clean-eating diet will lessen the consumption of these foods, and is therefore recommended as a fantastic way to reduce your overall sugar intake.
Here are 5 ways to reduce your sugar cravings:
Eat more protein –
Be sure that all your meals and snacks include protein. You can pack a hard-boiled egg, and cheese as snacks in your lunch. Other good sources of protein are extra lean beef, plain yogurt (you can add some fruit to it, if you want to add natural sweetness), lima beans, lentils, and other pulse grains, spirulina, milk, and cold-water fish such as salmon and tuna. Having nuts on hand is another way to get more protein, and this will stop your sugar cravings in their tracks.
Ensure you get enough fiber –
Fiber does a body a lot of good, and one of those good things is to fill you up. You can get fiber in vegetables and fruits, as long as you don’t juice them. You can also get a lot of extra fiber by consuming pulse grains such as chickpeas, split peas, lentils, and others. Quinoa is another source of fiber. You can also get healthy fiber in oatmeal (avoid the instant kind), and whole-grain breads and pastas (avoid those with the terms enriched or bleached on them). The other added advantage of eating fruit, other than the fiber they contain, is that you also consume the natural sugar, and sometimes that can be enough to satisfy your sweet tooth.
Consume protein and fruit/vegetables together –
An example, already provided above, is to add fruit to plain, unsweetened yogurt. You can also make a fruit and vegetable smoothie, and then add protein powder to it. Not only will you be getting the benefits of the sweet taste, it will fill you up with protein and fiber as well.
Consume probiotics –
You have two types of bacteria in your gut – good/healthy and bad/unhealthy. The key to staying healthy is to ensure that the good bacteria outnumber the bad ones. The bad bacteria can contribute to “candida,” which is what causes yeast infections in your body. Yeast thrive on sugar, and thus increase your cravings for sugar. Therefore, to curb this, you need to increase your good bacteria counts. You do this by consuming probiotics (which are healthy bacteria) in a capsule, and/or eating foods with probiotics in them (plain, unsweetened Astro yogurt is one type of food). Sauerkraut, apple cider vinegar, and kombucha are also good sources of probiotics.
Use natural sweeteners –
As you consume less sugar, your tastebuds change and you will find that you crave sugar less and less. However, there may still be some foods or beverages that you wish to sweeten initially, or as you continue on your sugar-reduced journey. If this is the case, a natural sweetener such as Stevia is a great option. You may have to do some research and taste testing, as not all Stevia products are the same. You want to use a Stevia product that is not processed, and that is as natural as possible. Other natural sweeteners to consider include pureed bananas, raw honey, and dates.
Don’t forget about the A#1 Superfood – water. When your sugar craving starts to take over, have some water, on the rocks, with lemon or lime juice squeezed in.