Sugar is all sweet and pleasurable, but is not that great for our health. Read on to learn how to stop sugar cravings with these tips.
In this article:
- About Sugar Cravings
- How to Stop Sugar Cravings
Short and Sweet Ways on How to Stop Your Sugar Cravings
About Sugar Cravings
You have just eaten a meal, but you find yourself reaching for something sweet. We know this situation all too well. Sugar cravings happen almost at any time of the day, especially when you are in a bad mood or under emotional distress.
Several factors affect sugar cravings. This could be physiological, psychological, or influenced by the environment. In addition to this, sugar is a potentially addictive substance because of its ability to release dopamine and activate opiate (opioid) receptors in the brain. Thus, giving the effect of pleasure and reward. This may create sugar dependence that eventually leads to health problems such as obesity, heart diseases, diabetes, and tooth decay.
To manage this, here are six simple steps to help you stop sugar cravings.
How to Stop Sugar Cravings
Recognize the Difference Between Craving and Hunger
If you aim to stop your sugar cravings, first, you must recognize your body’s cues and signals. More often than not, craving is for sugary, fatty, and salty foods while hunger is not focused on one specific food. Other differences to take note are the following:
- Are affected by mood and negative feelings
- May occur even after eating a meal
- May be more challenging when you are cutting back or dieting
- Lead to excessive eating followed by guilt
- May be affected by changes in hormones during pregnancy and menstruation
- Usually passes with time
- Can be satisfied with healthy meals or snacks
- Happens when you have not eaten for a few hours
- Causes growling stomach, irritability, lack of energy, and headache
- Does not pass with time.
By recognizing these cues, you may be able to make appropriate responses to address your hunger or craving.
Practice Mindfulness and Intuitive Eating
As we get more exposed to distractions, stress, and drifting thoughts, we tend to be less aware of the food we are consuming and how much we consume them. For instance, when you are watching television while munching on your snacks, it may take time to notice that you are full.
This is why mindfulness practice could be beneficial. It lets you focus on being aware of what you’re feeling and sensing at the moment without negative judgment. A study suggests that mindfulness practice may be beneficial for craving reduction and overconsumption.
In line with mindfulness, intuitive eating can be a helpful method that encourages healthy relationships with food by trusting your body to make the right choices. This is in contrast with most diet fads with food and time restrictions. In this approach, an intuitive eater pays attention to body cues, mainly to eat when you are hungry and stop when you are full.
Switch to Healthier Alternatives
Attempting and learning how to stop sugar cravings is physiologically similar to terminating addiction. While going cold turkey might be a solution to stop sugar craving, resorting to a gradual approach can be an alternative.
Healthier food alternatives to sugar cravings are fruits. Unlike candies with empty calories, fruits contain fiber, nutrients, and vitamins that serve as a great addition to a healthy diet. Other options include fruit and veggie chips, energy balls, honey roasted nuts, dark chocolates, and “nice” creams made from blended fruits and optional add-ons such as nut butter and coconut milk made into ice cream.
Out of Sight, Out of Mind
One of the best ways to let go of things is to keep it out of sight. Reducing the availability of sweet treats around you averts impulsive eating behavior and temptation.
Given that sugar craving is also influenced by environmental factors, learning to manage your surroundings may help stop excessive sugar consumption.
Address Emotional Eating Habits
Emotional eating is driven by emotional need due to loneliness, boredom, anxiety, and sadness that leads to cravings and excessive food consumption.
Learn to address this habit through the following:
- Manage your stress
- Get support from family and friends
- Fight boredom
- Keep a food log or track your food intake
- Snack on healthy food
If these self-help options do not work, you may consider seeking help from a mental health professional to help you manage emotional eating habits.
Drink Plenty of Water
Sugar craving is one of the common signs associated with dehydration. Not enough fluids in the body can make it difficult for organs to release stored glucose and other components of energy stores therefore our bodies crave sugar for energy when what it actually needs is a little more water. So next time you find yourself craving for sweets, take a step back, and drink a glass of water.
Get Enough Sleep
This might seem far-fetched, but lack of sleep may increase food desire. This is not limited to sugary treats, but also to high-calorie foods that may lead to worsened health problems including obesity.
To stop your sugar cravings, having enough quality sleep might be the solution. Make sure to get at least seven hours of sleep per night and stick to a consistent sleep schedule.
While it is generally harmless to crave for sweets once in a while, learning how to stop sugar cravings through these methods may significantly benefit your health and reduce the risk of illness such as diabetes, obesity, and heart disease.
How do you stop your sugar cravings? Let us know in the comments section below!