Sugar cravings are something I’ve always been struggling with. I could eat half of a cake after declaring I’m completely full. I could eat 10 pancakes in one go or whole chocolate and still feeling I’m missing something. I am lucky – even with eating so many things, I never gained a lot of weight, but it was enough that I wouldn’t feel happy about myself.
Looking beyond that – don’t you hate it when you feel like decisions AREN’T EVEN YOURS? When you feel like you’re outside your body, just watching what’s happening and can’t do anything about it?
Good news is – YOU CAN DO SOMETHING ABOUT YOUR CRAVINGS. Cravings become strong when two things happen:
- You don’t take care of your body properly
- You link food to emotions and memories (good or bad)
Not so good news is that understanding and resolving your cravings takes time and work.
I believe the easier of the two is the former. Proper body-care consists of three parts:
- Proper fuel
- Proper recreation
- Proper regeneration
Fueling your body
Tip #1: Remove sugar and flour from your diet
Both sugar and flour are super concentrated sources of energy that make your brain go NUTS! I’m sure you’ve already heard that sugar is more addictive than cocaine? Unfortunately, it is EVERYWHERE, you can find it in almost every pre-made food. It is super delicious, our body can use it as energy very easily and it’s calorie dense, so in the past – when food was scarce – it made sense for us to jump on such abundant source of energy.
What was helpful in the past is now causing us many issues. With plenty of food available, there is no need for constant feeding, but dishes made with sugar or flour (or a winning combination of both) seems like it is impossible to stop and we keep on craving them even when we were supposed to feel full.
This happens because those two foods impact our hormones in such a way, that they don’t signal us when when we had enough food, so we just keep eating. They also don’t provide us with any nutrition value. So what happens? We overeat, but at the same time are depleted of important nutrients that keep us healthy and silence “the crave monster” inside of us.
Therefore, start with the basics and eliminate the two biggest offenders – sugar and flour. I promise you – you will feel tons better RIGHT AWAY!
Tip #2: Make sure to remove all the hidden sugar and sweeteners
When removing sugar and flour from our menus, we all understand that bread and desserts have to go. Make sure you exclude the following foods as well, if you wish to take control of your cravings.
Indeed, fruit can be a perfectly healthy choice, but our goal here is to take control of our sugar cravings. Fruits, which are loaded with glucose and fructose, affect our hormones, increase our appetite and keep us craving for more. Limit their consumption for the time being and you can try introducing them later back in your diet to see, if they trigger your cravings. Winter is perfect time for this as well, since availability of fruit is scarce during winter.
MILK AND SWEETENED, LOW FAT DAIRY PRODUCTS
Dairy products include their own type of sugar, called lactose. It is especially abundant in low-fat products such as milk or those diet yogurts. Stay away from all low-fat dairy products or any products with extra sugar or fruit added (but you can still enjoy cheeses, sour cream, heavy cream, cottage cheese or any other dairy product with high fat content)
It is true, they don’t have any calories, so they should be good right? Wrong, studies show that they also increase our appetite. In addition, they keep us hooked on the sweet taste. I’m certain you don’t eat fewer cookies or drink any less coke if it’s made with calorie-free sweeteners.
This one requires a bit more thought. I’m not saying all pre-made stuff is bad, but we cannot mindlessly throw cans and packages in our trolley. Make sure to ALWAYS CHECK THE INGREDIENTS! See if there’s any additional sugar or flour in there. And be mindful – products, such as tomato paste will indeed show sugar in nutritional value chart, but that’s ok. Look for extra add-ins in the ingredients.
Tip #3: Don’t go hungry
Don’t make this journey harder than it has to be. In order to be able to have your sugar cravings under control, you need to nourish your body PROPERLY. That means eating enough and not restricting calories.
Eat 3 times a day. Let every meal be comprised of satisfying proteins, nutritious veggies and healthy fats. Don’t exclude any of the food groups.
If you’re a healthy, moderately active adult, there is no need for extra snacks. Make sure you eat enough during your main meals, so you won’t be feeling the need to empty you snack drawer. Bonus tip: if you crave snacks, increase your consumption of fats.
Do not take on any restrictive diets or intermittent fasting. Deal with your cravings first, figure out how to optimise your diet later.
Regular movement is key if we want to have our sugar cravings under control. This is due to the fact that exercise helps us regulate our hormones.
Choose easy movement, such as going for a walk or a city bike ride, with occasional body weight exercises. Make sure that you move throughout the day – if you’re spending a lot of time working on your computer, set the alarm every 30 minutes to stretch your legs. Make plans with your friends to go hiking over the weekend – October is perfect for picking mushrooms or chestnuts in the nearby forest.
Combine exercise with fun and family time and you will do wonders for your body and sugar cravings as well – you will reduce your appetite, de-stress your body and keep your hormones harmonised.
Last, but not least – regeneration is super important when trying to get rid of your sugar cravings. Just like exercise, proper regeneration helps with our hormonal balance.
People eat more when they’re tired or stressed. Remember the last time you were working on a project late at night? Were you munching on almonds or chocolate? Did you finish your day with a visit to the refrigerator? All this happens because of the hormonal imbalance. So in order to avoid it, make sure you get enough rest.
What exactly does that mean? I’m not only taking about regular sleep (8 hours – you know how it goes); it is equally important to have enough rest after exercise. Don’t go to the gym every day, let your muscles regenerate and wait until you feel energetic again. Don’t work out if you feel sick and take it easy on the days, when you have a lot of work at the office – yes, go for a calming walk, but don’t try to squeeze in a HIIT workout. Listen to your body and modify accordingly.