Preventing sugar cravings is one of the hardest parts of cutting out sugar from your diet. When your body realizes it’s not getting the sugar and carbs that it’s so accustomed to receiving, that overwhelming feeling that you need to consume some form of sugar can start creeping in. Here, Health Coach Kelly Ohana gives you her suggestions on what you can do to prevent sugar cravings in the first place. Plus, she shares her favorite sugar free snack ideas. Making these diet and lifestyle changes can help you cut out sugar for good, so read on.
So are you struggling with sugar cravings? I know it can be difficult. When you cut out sugar from your diet, you are breaking a habit, a routine. The hippocampus, which is the part of the brain that is in charge of memory retention, and the caudate nucleus, the part of the brain that forms your habits, both contribute to that feeling of “needing sugar.”
In the same way that it can be very challenging to stop biting your nails or even watching hours of your favorite show late at night before work, it can be even more difficult to prevent sugar cravings because not only is it a habit accepted within the brain, it is now expected by your body. Sugar, which is really just a nickname for sweet soluble carbohydrates, is indeed used as an energy source, but sugar does not actually have other nutrients that can be helpful, like vitamin C or iron. People think that sugar is only found in outright sweet things, but it can be found in most foods. Without proper attention, you can easily surpass the recommended daily amount of sugar – which is only about 5% of your daily calorie intake.
Tips on How To Prevent Sugar Cravings
Do you need help in resisting sugar and preventing sugar cravings? As a chef and health coach, my recommendation to all my clients is simple: don’t give yourself the opportunity to be tempted! Eating wholesome, nutrient-dense meals and snacks can help you prevent your blood sugar from crashing, commonly associated with low energy….and those sugar cravings that are hard to resist! Here are my tips on how to prevent sugar cravings:
- Eat complete meals: make sure you include healthy fats, proteins and fibers at each meal to help you stay full until the following meal. For snacks, focus on protein, fat and fiber.
- Don’t skip breakfast: you fasted all night! In the morning, your body needs some energy to start the day off right. Make sure your eat some protein and fat at breakfast to help keep you full and give you energy to last until lunch.
- Avoid overly salty food. Salt is tasty but in excess, it increases sugar cravings! The easiest way to do this is to cut out processed foods, which almost always contain high amounts of sodium.
- Always have fruit on hand. Satisfy your sweet tooth with naturally sweetened fruit like apples or oranges. Berries are also very low in sugar but high in nutrients. Try snacking on a piece of fruit or a bowl of berries when you feel a sugar craving coming on.
- Prepare some easy dips to have for snack or to bring on the go. This way you can easily reach into your fridge and grab some readymade dip and veggies. Need ideas? How about hummus, guacamole, salsa, nut butter with raw vegetables such as celery, cauliflower, carrots.
- Buying packaged? Make sure to check the sugar! Sugar can be hidden in the ingredients under so many different names such as corn syrup, nectar, molasses or anything ending in ”ose” Homemade is always the best way to control what you eat. You can find a lot of easy to make sugar free recipes on Further Food.
- Don’t forget to hydrate! Drinking 8 cups of water a day is not only beneficial for your overall health, it also helps to beat sugar cravings. Sometimes a simple glass of water can make the craving go away.
- Spice up your food! Play with various delicious spices such as cinnamon, turmeric, cumin, garlic… There are so many fun flavors to experiment with-adding spices adds flavor but no calories. One of my favorite spice blends is Turmeric Tonic. It has lots of spices like cinnamon, cloves and cardamom that add a lot of flavor to soups, stews and even smoothies. Try some here!
- Be prepared with sugar free snack swaps It’s really easy to fall into the sugar trap when snacking, for instance. When we snack, it’s only to alleviate a feeling of hunger before a meal or event or bedtime. Of course, we usually snack on things we really enjoy eating – so snacks often consist of sugar, sugar, and more sugar! How do we fix this? Snack swap! There are lots of tasty foods that don’t have added sugar. But you need to plan ahead and rethink your snacking. Develop a new habit of walking away from and not buying unhealthy snacks and substituting with healthy sugar-free snacks!
Try some of these easy sugar-free snack swaps. Feel free to get creative!
- 1 cup of berries with nut butter instead of 1 bowl of cereal with milk
- 1 glass of (hot) water with squeezed lemon instead of a soda
- 1 vegetable smoothie with collagen protein instead of packaged juice
- 2 lettuce cups with hummus instead of 1 white flour tortilla with melted cheese
- 1 whole grain toast with ghee instead of 1 white bread toast with jam
- 1 overnight oats breakfast instead of 1 store bought muffin
- 1 piece of whole fruit instead of handful/bag of candy
- Baked Kale chips instead of french fries
- Popcorn instead of a bag/handful of chips
- Superfood Chocolate Chip Cookie Bars instead of a sugary cookies
- Smoked salmon or chicken slices instead of high sodium/sugar jerky
- No Bake Almond Butter Bars instead of sugar laden protein/granola bars (most brands!)
Cutting out sugar and preventing sugar cravings is hard. It’s a challenge, but you can do it! Make it easier on yourself by implementing my tips on eating smarter and healthier. And, remember, you’re doing this for you. If you keep up your new low-sugar diet, those sugar cravings will eventually go away because you have created new healthier habits and lifestyle for yourself.
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