One of the most common questions people ask when embarking on a new healthy-eating lifestyle relates to how to stop sugar cravings. Trying to cut down on those delicious, sweet treats has been the downfall of many a dieter. The secret is to not deprive your sweet tooth altogether, but satisfy it in other ways that will not cause those spikes in your blood sugar level (followed by the slump afterwards that invariably leaves you reaching for the candy bar).
Here are a few suggestions on how to reduce the desire for sugar:
Eat More Complex Carbohydrates
Complex carbs such as wholegrain breads, cereals and grains are filling and take longer to to digest than foods with refined carbs. An example would be as simple as a piece of wholegrain bread as opposed to white bread. Vegetables and starchy foods like wholewheat pasta will regulate your blood sugar levels, which are responsible for those sugar cravings in the first place.
Quality not Quantity
If you must have some chocolate no matter what, then get into the mindset that ‘quality is better than quantity.’ Instead of wolfing down a large bar of milk chocolate, try instead savoring a couple of squares of good quality dark chocolate. Dark chocolate tends to have a higher cocoa content and contains heart-healthy flavonoids as opposed to it’s milk and sugar-laden counterpart. Let the square dissolve slowly in your mouth, and really appreciate the flavor of the chocolate.
Drink More Water
Drinking more water is something that most of us could do in our daily routine. As well as keeping the body hydrated, it also helps to regulate blood sugar levels and can alleviate feelings of hunger. Much of the time, when we feel like we are getting hungry, we are actually a little dehydrated, and by simply drinking a glass of water, the urge to snack will go away.
Try substituting things like potatoes for sweet potatoes in your diet, and you will notice right away that you will have a much lower desire for something sweet after your meal. This is due to the natural sugar content in the vegetables that, again, regulates those all-important blood sugar levels.
As well as sweet potato, try roasting vegetables in the oven instead of simply boiling or steaming them. This makes the flavors more intense and ‘sweet’ - making you eat more veggies and reducing your sugar cravings at the same time!
Fruit is nature’s candy. Any kind of fruit contains a lot of natural sugar that is different than the sugar found in processed, refined foods. Yes, eating an apple may not be as satisfying as a chocolate bar at first, but give fruit a chance and you will find that it will satisfy your sugar cravings, as well as provide a host of vitamins, minerals, fiber and fluids to your body.
Have an Adequate Breakfast
After a fast of 8 hours or so, your body is crying out for nutrition in order for it to operate properly throughout the morning. If you feed it refined sugar first thing, it will use that as a fast energy source, giving you a lot of energy very quickly, but then an unpleasant ‘slump’ mid-morning that can leave you feeling tired, hungry and moody. This in turn will make you more likely to reach for more sugary snacks to alleviate the feeling.
Begin the day with a bowl of filling cereal such as oatmeal with fruit, bran flakes with raisins or wholegrain bread, and you will be fueling your body with slow-release carbohydrates that will stabilize your blood sugar levels and keep you feeling satisfied in the hours before lunchtime.
Sounds like a surefire way to gain weight, but by snacking on a few nuts, seeds and pieces of fruit throughout the day, you will be keeping your body from getting too hungry and reaching for a sugary treat.