If you have good intentions of eating healthy, but get sidetracked by sweets, you’re not alone! Did you know that sugar can be just as addictive as cocaine? And it causes the same chemical reaction in the brain as cocaine. Now with all of us starting into the dog days of summer, at least those of us in the northern hemisphere, it can be even more of a challenge. The good news is that there are ways to beat sugar cravings this summer so that you don’t gain extra weight or get even more addicted to it.
During the summer, many of us eat way more sugar than our bodies can handle. There are parties, picnics, and cookouts to go to, and every event brings with it all sorts of sweet temptations. Not to mention those hot sweltering days when it seems a sugary drink or an ice cream cone are the only way to cool off.
Sometimes you just want to relax and give in to all the tantalizing treats. But unless you want to put on the pounds in the next few months, you should still be careful of what you’re putting into your body.
Free yourself from your cravings this summer with these tips and take back your power by phasing them out for good.
Why do we crave sugar?
Sugar cravings are one of the biggest challenges many of us face when choosing a healthy, nourishing diet.
The occasional sweet treat can be a wonderful indulgence and part of a healthy balanced life. And there can be a lot of good reasons for your cravings.
Sugar cravings could be the result of external influences such as too much stress or not enough sleep. Or they could be a result of low levels of essential nutrients like chromium and magnesium.
Alternatively, you might be experiencing low energy. Because your brain needs glucose to perform well and glucose is a form of sugar, your brain can send signals to replenish low glucose levels with sugar.
Even feelings of depression and boredom can lead to sugar cravings.
So what can you do?
If you feel that your sugar consumption is out of control and you want to rein it in, try reducing your intake for at least two weeks. It typically takes this amount of time to wean your body off of it and start noticing the benefits such as better fitting clothes, more energy and improved mental clarity.
You don’t have to give up sugar forever, just work to find your healthy balance and when necessary, take a little sugar vacation!
Here are some easy ways to better deal with your sugar cravings this summer;
- Drink water
Sometimes sweet cravings are a sign of dehydration. Before you head for the sugar, have a glass of water and then wait a few minutes to see what happens. Switching water for some of the soda, alcohol, flavored water, fruit drinks, and other sweetened beverages you drink can go a long way to reducing your sugar consumption, too.
- Eat sweet vegetables and fruit
They are sweet, healthy and delicious. Make sure to keep your fridge stocked with them so you can grab one when a sweet tooth craving strikes.
- Include fiber, lean protein and healthy fats
If you do decide to indulge in a refined sugar food, try to pair it with other foods that are high in fiber, lean protein and healthy fats to keep you from entering the blood-sugar surge cycle.
- Use gentle sweeteners
Avoid artificial sweeteners and processed foods with added sugar. Use gentle sweeteners like maple syrup, brown rice syrup, (be sure the brand you are using is gluten-free, not all are), or pure organic stevia, (my personal favorite), instead.
5. Get physically active
If you don’t currently exercise regularly, try simple activities like walking or yoga. Start with ten minutes a day and gradually increase from there. It will help balance your blood sugar levels, boost your energy, and reduce tension without medicating yourself with sugar.
- Get more sleep, rest, and relaxation
When you are tired or stressed, your body will crave energy, often in the form of sugar. These cravings can be a result typically of being sleep-deprived, going to bed too late or waking up too early.
- Pay attention to the ingredients
Despite the “healthy” claims on the packaging of fat-free or low-fat packaged snack foods, these foods often contain high quantities of sugar to compensate for lack of flavor and fat. That added sugar can send you on the roller-coaster ride of sugar ups and downs. You’re much better off choosing snacks without added sugar.
- Add a little spice
Cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, coriander and cardamom will naturally sweeten your food, reduce cravings and have been shown to reduce insulin resistance.
- Find sweetness without food
Your body does not biologically need sugar, but it does long for hugs, time with friends, time outdoors, workouts, massages, etc. When life comes sweet enough in and of itself, less sugar is necessary.
There you have it. Some great easy ways to deal with your cravings. Do you have other ideas and suggestions on ways to beat sugar cravings that have worked for you? I would love to have you share them with us.
What are your favorite ways to cut sugar from your diet? Let me know in the comments.