Q. I want to reduce or eliminate my added sugar intake, but it’s so hard! How can I beat the sugar craving?
A. At least you are aware that you are consuming too much sugar and that it is not good for your health. There have been many studies done linking sugar consumption to things like heart disease, diabetes, obesity, and depression. Sugar is addictive. So, just telling yourself that you would like to stop eating it usually isn’t enough to actually make it happen. Luckily, there are a few good strategies to help you get off the white stuff.
At least in the beginning stages of kicking your sugar cravings, out of sight, out of mind is a good method. Remove added sugar from your pantry, cabinets, etc. But, we can’t hide from our sugar cravings forever–eventually you’ll have to go in public, run errands, and be in environments where you’ll come face to face with sugar. Try some (or all!) of these methods to curb your cravings when you’re around sugar!
7 Strategies To Kick Your Added Sugar Cravings
- Number one is make sure you are eating regular meals comprised of whole foods and balanced nutrition. If your sugar cravings are because your blood sugar is too low, the first thing is to make sure you work on getting your blood sugar stable throughout the day. This can be achieved first by eating regular, consistent meals timed and spaced out in a way that doesn’t let your blood sugar drop too low in between meals. Initially, this usually means eating a little more frequently. But this is not a great long-term strategy.
- The next step is adjusting the components of your meals to get a good amount of protein, fat, and fiber. This will help keep your blood sugar stable longer. Over time you won’t need to eat as frequently and you won’t crave the sugar as your body gets acclimated to using fat as fuel.
- Nutrient deficiencies of things like certain B vitamins, magnesium, or trace minerals can leave us feeling depleted and craving sugar. Eating more variety of whole fruits and vegetables is a good start to fill in these nutritional gaps as fresh produce contains many minerals that a lot of people are missing in their diets. Get the processed foods out of your diet! Commit to eating real, whole foods as close to their source as possible. Cook at home more often in order to have control over the ingredients and quality of nutrition in your food.
- Eat the opposite. That is, the sour taste. Try getting some sour taste at each meal. Or if you feel a craving coming on, try a couple spoonfuls of fermented vegetables instead. This opposite approach seems to override the sugar taste buds, quieting them down.
- Include more spices with in your meals. Cinnamon, cumin, coriander, cardamom, fennel….with a richness of flavors in your meal your taste buds and your senses will be more entertained and not feel like they are missing something. That feeling of missing something is often what sends you searching for a bite of something sweet after your meal is over.
- If you are craving sugar in response to stress, take a break. Change your space to change your state. Go outside for a walk or do some push-ups and squats. Step away and take a break to meditate or do some slow conscious breathing to calm down your nervous system. Sit until you feel a sense of being okay just as you are. When we are stressed, we tend to turn to quick fixes and something to immediately soothe or give us some energy to get through the next minute like sugar, comfort foods, and alcohol. Implementing practices to calm your nervous system down like conscious breathing and meditation will get you out of the stress state and away from making reactive decisions.
- Reset your microbiome. Sometimes it is not ‘you’ that is craving sugar but the out of balance bacteria or yeast overgrowing in your gut. These guys love sugar and try to demand it, getting you to consume it, for their survival. Do a cleanse to rid yourself of unwanted bacteria and yeast then repopulate your gut with good bacteria instead.