If you are trying to lose weight, sugar cravings can be the bane of your existence.
Not surprisingly, because according to research and brain scans sugar is as addictive as cocaine and heroin. Scary, huh? Well it gets even scarier when you think that (by some estimates) sugar is found in 75-80% of all packaged foods! So basically, it’s almost in everything!
Two hundred years ago, the average person ate only under a 1 kg or 2 pounds of sugar a year. Today, we consume on average 60 kg or about 150 pounds of sugar in one year. This is equal to 6 cups of sugar consumed in one week! (These estimates are for USA; however, I don’t think we Australians are far off!)
Eating too much sugar can damage your health and leads to:
- Chronic inflammation
- Type 2 diabetes
- Hypertension (high blood pressure) and stroke
- Nervous tension
- Stiffening of arteries
- Suppresses the immune system
- Elevated levels of cholesterol, high triglycerides, vascular disease and heart disease
- sugar is toxic to the liver and can lead to nonalcoholic fatty liver disease
Sugar comes in different forms and a variety of names:
- Sugar • Dextrose • Maltose• Glucose • Fructose • Corn sweetener • Honey • Corn syrup • Sucrose
- Sorghum syrup • Sorbitol • Brown sugar • Lactose • Molasses • Syrup • Fruit juice concentrate
- High-fructose corn syrup • Maple Syrup
The good news is: you can kick the sugar craving to the curb! Here is how:
- Boost Your Serotonin.
Serotonin is the “happiness hormone” and people with low levels of serotonin often intuitively crave sugary, carbohydrate-rich food such as cakes, biscuits, lollies and chocolate because carbohydrates raise serotonin levels and increase feelings of well-being. You can boost your serotonin levels by sleeping well, exercising and eating foods rich in L-tryptophan (precursor to serotonin) such as chicken, turkey, salmon, beef, nut butter, cottage cheese, eggs, bananas and green peas. As much as 95 percent of the serotonin in your body is produced in your gut, so make sure you are taking a quality probiotic and eating a brain-healthy diet.
- Keep your blood sugar levels stable:
- Eat frequent, small meals throughout the day and don’t skip meals.
- Always start the day with a good breakfast (one that does not include sugary food such as shop bought cereals or white bread).
- Include protein and good fats in each meal (they provide high satiation and therefore reduce chances of cravings. Enjoy at least 25 grams of protein with each meal, including breakfast).
- Eat more good fats such as avocado, coconut oil, fish, nuts and seeds, or even butter and organically raised meat. Eating these kind of fat stimulates the release of leptin, a hunger hormone that tells your brain when you’re “full.” This is why fat is highly satiating, helps prevent overeating, reduces cravings and keeps you full long after you eat.
- Snack smarter ( you will find a list of healthy snacks here).
- Stay away from artificial sweeteners:
aspartame, saccharin, and sucralose. Yes, they are calorie-free however (contrary to what food industry would like you to believe), artificial sweeteners are bad for your health. Research indicates that artificial sweeteners dangerously alter our gut bacteria and actually lead to obesity. Additionally (and perhaps more importantly) artificial sweeteners increase sugar cravings. The empty calories prime the brain’s appetite center to expect something good, and when nothing comes, it wants more.
- Have a drink.
Of water, that is. Approximately two-thirds of our body is made of water. Our body sometimes confuses hunger or thirst with cravings so make sure you’re drinking about eight cups of filtered water a day. Two cups can come from tea , herb tea, or broth.
- Satisfy your sweet tooth naturally.
If you feel like something sweet choose foods that will not cause your blood sugar to spike:
- Handful of blueberries or sweet raspberries
- Baked sweet potato
- Baby carrots
- Banana /Pear/apple slices with tahini or almond batter
- A square or two of dark chocolate (at least 70% cacao)
- Go cold turkey.
As I’ve mentioned before; sugar is as addictive as drugs. The best (I’m not saying the easiest!) way to stop using drugs is to go cold turkey! The less sugar in your blood, the less you will crave it.
7. Distract yourself.
Cravings can pop up when you are bored. Go for a walk, drink a glass of water, read a book or catch up with a friend.