16 Dec Kelly’s 23 Tips to BEAT Sugar Cravings!
Does that morning Christmas cookie leave you craving another treat a couple hours later? Do you grab a candy cane and donut hole to cope with your afternoon slump — and then reach for a coffee to get out of your post-slump slump?
If you’ve found that munching sugary snacks just makes you crave more sugary snacks, you’re not alone. Eating lots of simple carbohydrates — without the backup of proteins or fats — can quickly give you a sugar buzz, but they almost as quickly leave you famished again and craving more sugar.
So how can you stop sugar cravings – not just during the holidays – but once and for all?
1. Eat in 3’s: A balance of protein/fat/carbohydrates every 3 hours. This is exactly what I teach in all my group and individual coaching programs. It’s works, because it’s based on sound science and physiology. I’ve seen client after client become amazed after their first week when their sugar cravings significantly diminish!
2. Eat “real” meals.
I can’t stress this one enough. Eating real meals—ones that are well-rounded with a mix of lean protein, healthy fats, and fiber-rich carbs—makes all the difference in controlling my sweet tooth. Having all of these nutritional elements together in one meal really satisfies me, so my sugar cravings are less intense and more manageable.
3. Avoid artificial sweeteners:
Not only do they contain potentially harmful ingredients, they keep the brain locked into the craving for sweetness. (Lucky for you if you’re in my program. We eliminate artificial sweeteners like sucralose because we understand what it does to our bodies!)
4. Read labels.
Ideally, you should eat unprocessed foods in the their “whole” form. If you find yourself reaching for packaged food, check the labels for sugar, partially hydrogenated fats and unrecognizable “food-like” substances. Try to avoid foods with more than five ingredients.
5. Make sure you consume healthy fats with your meals.
Healthy fats help reduce our cravings for sugar and other simple carbs. They provide satiety and they help to keep your blood sugar stable. Healthy fats include those found in avocados, nuts and seeds, nut butters, coconut, extra-virgin olive oil, and the natural fats found in animal products such as wild salmon and egg yolks.
6. Get lots of protein.
Protein stabilizes our blood sugar and keep us out of the craving danger zone.
7. Eat regularly.
Waiting too long between meals may set you up to choose sugary, fatty foods that temporarily satisfy your hunger and cravings. However, you’ll soon have an energy slump and crave more sugar. Instead, try eating in 3‘s (eating a balance of protein/fat/carbs every three hours) to help keep blood sugar stable and avoid irrational eating behavior.
8. Eat a wide variety of healthy foods, including lots of vegetables (the whole rainbow).
Many cravings reflect a lack of some nutrient. One of the best ways to avoid cravings is to consume everything your body needs.
9. Boost flavor.
If you’re a fan of sweet meals, like oatmeal for breakfast or a smoothie for lunch, you can use less sugar in your meals and snacks by adding flavored extracts like vanilla, almond, or butterscotch. Same goes for spices like cinnamon, pumpkin pie spice, and ginger. Add them for a punch of flavor without all the sugar! Make sure you add the proper portion of protein and fat to balance your blood sugar.
10. Sip on some tea.
There is something so comforting about sipping on a warm cup of tea. There are plenty of flavorful varieties (even sweet ones) available that are delicious!
11. Grab some gum.
The sweet taste of sugar-free gum can help you avoid sugar cravings. Remember not to do this frequently, since you want to avoid sugar and artificial sweeteners.
12. Reach for fruit.
Keep fruit handy for a sweet treat for when sugar cravings hit. You’ll get fiber and nutrients along with some sweetness. Eat it along with nuts and protein for stable blood sugar.
13. Get up and go.
When a sugar craving hits, walk away. Take a walk around the block or do something to change the scenery to take your mind off the food you’re craving.
14. Choose quality over quantity.
If you are desperate for an infrequent sugar fix, pick a wonderful, decadent sugary food. But keep it small. For example, choose a perfect piece of dark chocolate instead of a king-sized candy bar, then “savor every bite — slowly.” Balance it with a lean protein to minimize your blood sugar spike while you satisfy your craving
15. Cut back on caffeine, alcohol, and processed foods.
Caffeine and alcohol dehydrate the body and can lead to mineral deficiencies. Processed foods have a tendency to be very high in sugar and salt, which both lead to sugar cravings. However, don’t be too hard on yourself. It’s OK to have a cup of coffee or a glass of wine occasionally. It’s all about moderation.
16. Make sure you stay hydrated with fresh water.
Dehydration is linked to food cravings. You should be drinking about half your body weight in ounces of water daily. Add a slice of lemon to your water to improve the taste if needed.
17. Get adequate sleep and exercise regularly.
When tired, we have the tendency to eat sugary foods. Exercising regularly will help to boost energy levels and reduce stress.
18. Manage stress and emotions.
Do more of what nourishes your body, mind, and soul, and remember that stress is not created by exterior factors but by the way we perceive situations in life.
19. Know your sugar traps.
So many things set me off – the bakery and candy aisles at the grocery store, ‘just a look’ at the dessert menu, sweet treats for my kids in the cupboard, or even food ads on TV. I have identified them all and have strategies to avoid them.
20. Take different routes to avoid your nemesis.
Don’t go down the candy aisle in the store. Walk around the office to avoid the candy bowl. Go the long way round to avoid the dessert buffet. Walk on the other side of the mall from the cookie store. As a mom, I have found other ways (than sweet treats) to show my kids I adore them like crazy! Constantly be looking out for sugar traps and avoid them.
21. Avoid low-fat products.
It’s no coincidence that Americans have gained weight while eating “low-fat” foods. Typically, these products contain high levels of sugars and other carbs to compensate for fat reduction. They will trigger your cravings for more sugar.
22. Slow down.
For one week, focus on your sugar cravings and think about what you’re eating. Grazing on sugary treats often results from lack of planning. So slow down, plan, and eat what you intend to eat, instead of eating when you’re desperate.
23. Remind yourself about how hard it was to beat the sugar habit and how much better you feel for it.
Just taking a moment to remember how much work it took to get here just might be enough to keep you straight. Feeling good is no small thing! For those of you who have completed my program, remember how great you felt after the first week? Remember what it felt like to eat balanced and clean. You can do it!