For anyone struggling with an overly active sweet tooth or weight gain, working to control cravings or a sugar addiction should be a top priority. It’s no secret that your intake of sugary foods, whether in the form of excessive carbs or sweet treats like ice cream, needs to be controlled in order to create and sustain weight loss – and to maintain overall good health.
After all, a diet rich in sweet foods or a high sugar intake is known to impact your body’s blood sugar levels both in the short and long term, potentially opening you up to a host of health complications including (but not limited to): obesity, cardiovascular problems, and diabetes (since too much sugar can affect your body’s natural insulin resistance).1
And while it would be nearly impossible to cut out sugar completely from any diet, since some amount of it occurs naturally in such foods as fruit and dairy, it is still in your best interest to keep your sugary foods consumption as low as possible.
A great way to get started? Understand where your possible sugar addiction is coming from – and how to stop sugar cravings successfully.
Understand The Science Behind Sugar Cravings
It isn’t just your taste buds that rejoice when you eat sweet foods. Your brain responds to the stimulus sugar brings, too. Studies have shown the getting that hit of sugar activates the reward center of the brain, with addiction-like effects similar to that of drugs.
This isn’t to say that sugar is just as bad as narcotics – but your brain certainly reacts in a similar fashion, signaling a loss or lack of self-control that can lead to overindulgence or craving for even more.2
Furthermore, the more sugary foods you indulge in, the more your brain signals for it – and it’s going to take a bigger “hit” to satiate your sugar addiction or food cravings as time goes by. Even more alarming is the fact that the more high-glycemic the foods you eat are – meaning, the more it spikes your blood sugar – the more your brain registers it as a reward.3
This effect essentially causes you to crave – and cave in to – sweets more easily, much to the detriment of your health and wellness.
How To Stop Sugar Cravings Like A Pro
Figuring out how to curb sugar cravings involves building a good set of habits and best practices around your food choices and meals, as well as taking the time to delve a little deeper into why – and not necessarily what – you eat. After all, experts say that food cravings or sugar cravings have more to do with your psychological need for a reward instead of your physical need for food.4
Read on for some helpful tips on how to curb sugar cravings, hopefully for good.
Stick To Healthy, Balanced, and Well-Timed Meals
It isn’t always easy distinguishing between actual hunger and just feeling a little peckish. But as you try to figure it out, a good strategy is to fill up on a well-balanced, nutritious meal when you start craving something sweet. It may not be what your brain is asking for, but your body will thank you in the long run. Choose protein-rich foods or those with fiber. These keep you satiated longer.5
By also eating well and on time, you’re more likely to avoid blood sugar dips that can lead to sugar cravings. When your body’s energy stores are depleted, you’re more likely to crave a quick dose, which is where sugar comes in. Make sure you always have access to healthy meals and snacks that keep your blood sugar levels at an even keel to help prevent those mid-afternoon cravings. Also, make sure you aren’t neglecting your daily multivitamin, as it may be possible that some macronutrient deficiencies could cause you to crave something sweet.6
Lay Off The Artificial Sweeteners
You may think you’re getting smart about your sugar intake by relying on sugar-free or artificial sweeteners, but you may actually cause a major backslide into the real sweet stuff after some time. Artificial sweeteners could change your body’s (and brain’s) perception of sweetness, thus causing you to actually crave more.7
Make Sure You’re Sleeping Right
A study has shown that insufficient sleep is linked to food cravings. There seems to be a link between sleep deprivation and higher incidences of obesity due to giving in to food desire.8 Try improving your bedtime routine and aiming for more consistent (and restful) sleep hours.
Know Where Your Sugar Intake Is Coming From To Control It
It’s been established that the more sugar you eat, the more you’ll crave it. Try finding out just how much sugar you’re actually consuming on a daily basis so you can alter your eating habits and food choices accordingly, to lessen your overall sugar consumption.
You might be surprised just how much sugar is added to so-called healthy foods like cereals, yogurt, and fruit juices. Opt for more wholesome or homemade choices for these common foods. For example, eat whole fruit instead of buying juice made from concentrate.
You could also be consuming sugar from unlikely sources because you aren’t privy to all the other aliases sugar goes by. Read nutrition labels carefully – syrups, concentrates, fructose, and the like all simply mean added sugar.9
Hitting A Sweet Spot: Find The Balance
It’s a common recommendation to enjoy everything in moderation. And unless you’ve already been warned by your doctor of your risk for certain health conditions, it’s safe to say that you don’t have to say no to the occasional donut or bowl of ice cream.
After all, life is so much sweeter once you’ve struck the right balance in your diet. Master your sugar cravings today and you’ll feel more in control of both your mental and physical health.