It isn’t easy to kick sugar to the curb. Food and sugar can have a strong pull on us, both physically and mentally. Food is emotional! When I was a kid, I would go visit my Grandpa at his bar and he would always give me a Kit Kat and a Coke. Those happy childhood memories include a Kit Kat and a Coke. No matter how healthy I eat, I still want a Kit Kat and Coke. So, I get it- we all could use a little help reducing those sugar cravings. I can tell you that it does get easier the better you eat, and I can give you advice on how to reduce sugar cravings.
Not only does sugar have a pull on us mentally, but it can have a hold on us physically too. Sugar is a very inflammatory food that messes with your gut and that can increase your sugar cravings even more. Sugar can be very addictive as it stimulates the reward center in the brain releasing dopamine and endogenous opioids. Some studies even suggest it is more addictive than cocaine.
Sugar causes long term damage to our bodies and the average person eats so much more than recommended. Knowing this reminds us how important it is to be proactive on how to reduce sugar cravings. So, how about some tips to curb sugar cravings?
How to Reduce Sugar Cravings
Quit Cold Turkey – You can slowly reduce the amount of sugars in your diet but the fastest way to stop sugar cravings is to cut sugar from your diet all at once. Many people experience die-off symptoms during this time but after your body detoxes you won’t feel the intense sugar cravings and your taste buds change.
Stay Hydrated and Eat Healthy Foods – Drink plenty of water and find healthy replacements. If you wait too long to eat, your sugar cravings will be stronger. Plan healthy meals and snacks too. Raw nuts, organic beef jerky and cruciferous veggies are great choices.
Use Alternative Sweeteners Sparingly – Sweeteners like stevia and xylitol are great because they are a way to satisfy your sweet tooth without spiking your blood sugar. Use them sparingly so you can change your taste buds, so you don’t crave as many sweets.
Support a Healthy Gut – An imbalance in your gut can lead to certain bacteria or yeast taking over which can contribute to your sugar cravings. Take care of your gut by avoiding inflammatory foods and adding fermented foods.
Reduce Stress and Get Plenty of Sleep – Stress and lack of sleep can make those cravings stronger and harder to overcome. They make it easier to reach for those comfort foods. Take care of yourself and find ways to reduce stress.
Exercise – Yes, exercise can help reduce sugar cravings! Exercise releases neurotransmitters like dopamine and serotonin. Instead of eating sugar, take a walk or try yoga to get those happy neurotransmitters.
Mix Up Your Routine – Look at the ways your habits sabotage you and find new ones. Do you always have dessert after dinner? Take a walk instead. Always have a sugary coffee drink or soda mid-morning? Find a healthy swap. Know your pitfalls and avoid them.
Curb Sugar Cravings
The average American eats about a 146 pounds of sugar a year. Imagine that! We eat more sugar than ever before and it’s not making it easier to reduce sugar cravings but harder. It takes being proactive to curb sugar cravings and giving yourself a healthier diet. There are so many benefits to giving up sugar. You and your health deserve it.
So, use these tips to curb sugar cravings and here’s a bonus tip. Find a support system, friends to hold you accountable and people you can support on their journey. We all need someone to remind us that the Kit Kat and Coke aren’t worth it. Or whatever sugary foods are your go-to. Check out our challenge group on Facebook that is full of people supporting each other for a healthier lifestyle. They share ideas and recipes too like some of the ones in our recipe section.
Trust me I know it’s not easy to eat healthy and avoid sugar, but it’s worth it.
Written by Dr. Patrick Flynn