Sugar addiction is a very real problem that many people experience. If you eat the typical American diet filled with processed foods it is very likely that you have a problem with sugar. You may not realize it but think about what happens when you go without sweet foods, sweet drinks or sweeteners for a while. Many people will develop that strong “sweet tooth” craving and feel like they have to indulge in their favorite sugary treat.
Kicking processed sugar out of your daily eating plan will greatly improve your overall health so don’t feel discouraged if you feel like kicking the craving is frustrating. It’s worth it. Sugar consumption affects diabetes, blood sugar/insulin levels, heart health, the health of arteries, hormone levels and other aspects of your health. Here are 8 ways you can stay on track when you really want that candy bar, soda, cookie, etc.
- Go Cold Turkey
Like nearly any addiction, going cold turkey can be very effective but is also the most difficult way to stop a bad habit. When it comes to a sugar addiction going cold turkey means no cheating, even if you feel like you’ve been doing well with your diet otherwise. You need to remind yourself that the way you feel isn’t fun but it will pass.
If you’re trying to go cold turkey, the worst thing you can do is just sit around thinking about all the foods you want to eat. Instead go for a walk, read a book or get some exercise to get your mind off of it. Also, completely clean out your house of any sweet food so you don’t have temptation right there in arm’s reach. t
- Eat Some Fruit if You’re Craving
Fruit is full of natural sugars and can help you deal with really bad sugar cravings. Keep in mind that gorging on fruit isn’t good as you are still eating a type of sugar and your blood sugar will be affected. However, most people are not going to sit down and eat 7 bananas so the risk of over doing it is low. There is also a lot of fiber in many fruits as well as nutrients so it’s not the same as empty sugar calories. In the beginning of your sugar detox, try to eat fruits that are sweet but lower in sugar such as:
- Grape Tomatoes
After you’ve been kicking sugar for a week or two, add high-sugar fruits like apples, grapes, pineapples, banana and mangos back into your diet.
- Eat Every 3 hours Keep Up Blood Sugar Levels
If you blood sugar gets too low your cravings will be worse. Divide your main meals into smaller portions so you can eat throughout the day. Eating every 3 to 4 hours will work well for the average person. If you are eating many small meals be sure you don’t overeat- keep track of your calories in a notebook or on an app like MyFitnessPal.
- Eat More Lean Protein
Protein is filling and satisfying to eat. If you find yourself struggling with sugar cravings or just recently cut out sugar, add more lean protein to your diet. Some healthy sources of lean protein include:
- Lean Meats (chicken, turkey, lean beef, fish, pork chops)
- Low Fat Dairy (yogurt, kefir, milk)
- Whole Grain Breads
- Low Fat Protein Shakes
- Take a Chromium Supplement
Chromium is a metallic element that is important for human’s overall health. Chromium improves the metabolism by helping to regulate blood sugar through assisting insulin’s transportation of glucose. Since this supplement can positively affect blood sugar it may be helpful for those experiencing sugar cravings from low blood sugar levels. Talk to your doctor about this supplement to make sure it’s safe for you and to get any questions answered.
- Take a Vitamin B Complex Supplement
Another supplement that is helpful for dealing with sugar cravings is a vitamin B complex capsule. When a person has been eating simple carbs in the form of sugar for so long they often feel like they need to eat more to feel full. Vitamin B helps your body to metabolize carbohydrates more efficiently. Vitamin B complex supplements can often be found in many stores. It is better to use this supplement in the form of capsules rather than the powdered versions.
- Avoid Any Artificial Sweeteners
It is tempting to turn to artificial sweeteners when you are craving sugar. Sugar-free foods can taste sweet and are often sold as healthy alternatives to foods. Unfortunately, this isn’t the case. When a person consumes sugar it releases dopamine in the brain. Dopamine is a chemical reward and causes a very pleasant feeling.
However, dopamine is not released when artificial sweeteners are consumed. This means that the sugar craving isn’t satiated because as far as your body knows you haven’t consumed sugar. So, not only are artificial sweeteners unhealthy but they won’t satiate your cravings anyways. Avoid these chemical sweeteners as much as possible. They can also contribute to bloating and we don’t need more water weight while we are trying to lose pounds.
- Add More Healthy, Fiber-Filled Foods to Your Diet
Just like lean protein can help curb sugar cravings, eating more fiber will help you feel fuller. The average American doesn’t eat enough of this nutrient so by consuming more fiber you’ll fight cravings while also improving your overall health.
Some great sources of healthy fiber are:
- Brown Rice
- High-Fiber Cereals
Sugar cravings can be really difficult to deal with. You’re going to want to just indulge in that pint of ice cream, but keep on persevering! Once you get over symptoms of sugar withdrawal your palate will likely adjust and you’ll begin to enjoy naturally sweet foods like fruits and vegetables more.