We all get them, those cravings for something sweet and delicious. Whether that’s to get us through a boring afternoon at work, as a sweet end to a meal or something to keep us company on the sofa in front of the TV, sugar cravings are very common. It’s when you start to find yourself craving more and more sweets and chocolate, and becoming distressed when you can’t get your fix, that you have a sugar problem!
Of course, you can try and go cold turkey and pack in sugar all in one go, but I have found that transitioning off it might be easier. Here’s my tips…
Start to replace the hard stuff with a more natural high – instead of snacking on a Mars bar in your afternoon break, try having a Nakd or other natural fruit and nut bar instead. I know that the Nakd bar isn’t anything like the Mars Bar, but just start off with eating the Nakd bar first. If you still desperately need a Mars Bar, then have it, but try just having half and gradually reducing it down each day. Replacing processed sugary crap with naturally sweet foods like fruit, dried fruit, rice cakes with honey or maple syrup etc will help to get you off the nasty stuff.
Once you are fully transitioned onto the natural sweet stuff then its time to move on to less sweet stuff altogether. I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but even naturally sweet foods are still sugary and can be bad for you in excess. I’m not talking about completely giving up fruit and dried fruit, but I am saying it will be easier to keep sweet cravings under control if those foods are kept to 2-3 portions a day.
Start by adding something high in protein and fat to them such as nuts or nut butter. Have more of the less sugary fruits such as berries in place of higher sugar fruits like grapes and mango. Start adding in some less sweet snacks such as hummus with veggies for dipping. Gradually transition until you don’t crave sugar to the point of it feeling in control of you.
Some people may need to go even further in reducing sweet foods – and although these don’t sound ‘sweet’, foods like bread, rice and pasta, especially the white processed versions, are broken down in the body and have a very similar effect to eating a spoonful of sugar.
Other things to consider…
Don’t forget fizzy drinks. I know you love your can of Diet Coke, and I’m sorry to tell you that just because it’s got Diet (or your name, now that’s a good marketing trick if ever I’ve seen one!) slapped on it, doesn’t mean it’s any less worse that the full sugar one. It’s still something sweet, and research has shown that artificial sweeteners could actually be worse for us than the sugar. When the body tastes something sweet, it expects energy or calories to follow. When it doesn’t get those, as in the case with artificial sweeteners, then it can lead to even more sugar cravings.
Fruit yoghurts can also be another one of those foods that seem to be good for you but actually pack rather a lot of sugar. Transition off them with natural yoghurt or greek yoghurt and just add your own fruit.
Now I love coffee, but that is another thing that when drunk in excess can affect sugar cravings. Again, this is because caffeine can have a similar effect to that of sugar, as well as causing the energy crashes that lead to sugar pick-me-ups.
There is also an emotional element to all of this (as there is with a lot of cravings and food issues). If you find that your sugar cravings come at times of stress, sadness or boredom, then making sure that you identify that and do something to address those emotions can help.
It’s not all about giving up sweet foods for good, it’s just about getting the cravings under control so that you can enjoy that slice of cake because you want it, not because oh-my-god-if-I-don’t-get-my-sugar-I’ll-scream type cravings.
Do you crave sugar?
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