How to Curb Your Sweet Tooth?
With 2021 in full swing, that means it's a fresh start. I don't know about you but I enjoyed all the sweet treats during the holidays season, as I was baking up a storm. I know heading into the New Year you might have set food related or weight loss goals but let's focus on adding a variety of foods instead of eliminating entire food groups. While I do believe we need to limit our added sugar, there is no reason to go cold turkey and cut it out all together.
However, throughout the holiday season you may have overindulge in sugary treats and that's okay and totally normal! It's about listening to what your body wants in the moment. So don't deprive yourself, as you may find yourself in that binge and restive cycle. I've been there, and done that, and it's exhausting.
Now your body may be craving a bit more sugar these days. But don’t worry, with a little tweaking, you can learn how to decrease those 24/7 sugar cravings to get your taste buds back on track. In this blog, you’ll find tips and tricks to control those inner sweet cravings. With a little extra support, you'll be feeling lighter and more energetic.
The Low Down on Sugar
When you get that sugar taste our body releases endorphins that relaxes us, basically acting like a natural “high". Those sweets just taste so good! The problem isn’t when we enjoy sweets every so often but rather when we are constantly consuming them. However, added sugar is found in so many processed foods, including bread, yogurt, juices and sauces, so it is easy to over do it. It's always a good idea to read those food labels!
Americans over consume, averaging 22 teaspoons of added sugar per day! The American Heart Association recommends limiting added sugar to about 6 teaspoons per day for women and 9 grams for men. For reference, in 1 teaspoon there is about 4 grams of sugar.
Now not all sugar is created equal and it depends on what kind you eat. Fructose, the natural sugar found in fruits and certain veggies, won’t give you that immediate sugar rush. This is due to the fiber and other nutrients in those foods to help slow down digestion, which keeps blood sugar stable. That’s why snacking on fruit is much better than reaching for a candy bar.
Tricks to Curb that Sweet Tooth
The only way to curb a sugar habit is to cut back drastically. There are plenty of hidden sources of sugar so make sure to read those nutrition labels and the ingredients. I was personally shocked when I started looking at ingredient labels verses just looking at the numbers on the nutrition facts panel. My health journey made a turn for the better focusing on ingredients first! Below you’ll find tips to help decrease sugar cravings!
1. Cut out unnecessary sugars: Tackle the worst first, which means high sugary candies, frappuccinos, ice cream and sodas. If you drink soda every day, try having one every other day, then once a week, then maybe not at all. Your taste buds will thank you. Just think about that sugar in soda, as it's basically invisible and extremely concentrated. Those calories and added sugar can add up very quickly.
2. Instead try some bubbles: If you know you love bubbly beverages but are trying to lose weight, keep carbonation in your life with these healthy alternatives. Healthy soda’s do exist, but they’ve been hiding in sparkling waters, seltzers and club sodas. These can be just as satisfying with far less sugar and calories. Try Spindrift, Bai Bubbles, LaCroix, Izze, Perrier or Zevia soda.
2. Enjoy fruit: When sugar cravings start, satisfy your sweet tooth with apples, oranges or berries. You’ll get fiber and loads of antioxidants, along with natural sweetness. Stock up on foods like nuts and dried fruits as well. Dried fruit doesn’t have nearly as much fiber and are more concentrated sources of calories so limit yourself to a 1/4 cup a day. If you're craving sweets, try keeping trail mix at your desk for something that is sweet and savory.
3. Grab some gum: If you want to resist those sugar cravings, try chewing a stick of gum. Research has shown that chewing gum can reduce food cravings. However if you’re tummy is rumbling reach for some carbs and protein, like fruit + string cheese.
4. Get up and move: When you get that 3pm sugar craving, literally walk away! Maybe that means getting outside for a quick walk or enjoying a refreshing cup of tea to get your mind off those sweet treats.
5. Sugar rehab: Before you can ditch sugar, you need to go through a detox. I would never recommend any sort of detox but cutting out all ADDED SUGAR can work for some people, although the initial 48 to 72 hours can be rough. Prepare to be moody starting on day two; however, by day 5, you’ll feel like a brand new person. After you’ll find that a little sugar goes a much longer way. Some people find that going cold turkey helps reduce their cravings after a few days. However, others find they may still crave sugar, but overtime the body will crave less as your taste buds adjust. Just give your body time!
Don’t cut out natural whole food sources of sugar like fruits, veggies, whole grains and dairy. It’s all about being mindful of the ingredient on the label as well. My body usually tells me when I've had too much sugar and I feel much better focusing on real foods with no added sugar for about a week or so!
6. Don't Skip Meals: Now, you may think skipping meals will help but it can actually make you crave those sugary and fatty foods. It has been shown that people who skip breakfast crave sugar throughout the day. The theory behind this as you eat breakfast, you avoid that drop in blood sugar, which prevents those sugar thoughts later in the day. Try eating every few hours to help keep your blood sugar stable. Your best bet is to choose lean proteins, veggies, healthy fats and fiber-rich foods. If you’re fasting have your first meal focusing on quality foods just like you would breakfast or a nutrient dense smoothie.
7. Give in a little: Restricting yourself can lead to overeating and binging on all those delicious sweets. I did this for many years and now I listen to what my body really wants. So, eat a bit of what you’re craving. Maybe a small cookie or that fun latte but try to stick to no more than 150 calories with 16 grams of sugar or less. Enjoying a little of what you love can help keep you on track. You do have to indulge a little bit! When you tell yourself you can’t have something, you usually want it more! So give yourself permission to listen to your body and enjoy that cookie!
8. Combine sweet & savory foods: If the idea of eating a small cookie or fun-size candy bar seems impossible, you can still satisfy your sweet tooth and fill yourself up. My personal favorite is combining my craving food with a healthy one. For example, I love chocolate. So sometimes I’ll dip strawberries in melted chocolate and then that gives me what I’m craving. Now you are satisfying a craving and getting healthy nutrients and fiber.
9. Get support & accountability: As you make your holiday plan of attack consider setting realistic expectations for yourself. Voice your plan to a family member, close friend or workout buddy. Research has shown that accountability works. We all do better when we have a partner in crime (strength in numbers) supporting us. Just remember you have the opportunity to start fresh at every meal. Just because you get off track for one meal doesn’t mean that throws off the whole day or week. Your health journey is your own and there will be ups and downs! Nutrition is all about practice.
10. Relax & Get Some Rest: The more rest your body gets, the less it will crave sweet treats. Try to aim for 7 to 8 hours of sleep a night. This means a dark, quiet room away from social media distractions. So no matter how stressful the holidays may get, be sure to make sleep a priority. Your mental health and waistline will thank you!
To curb those sugar cravings, you really need to figure out what works for you. What may work for yourself, may not work for your friend or family member! One week you may find success and a week later maybe an alternative approach is needed. It doesn’t matter if you try different approaches, but it’s important to have tips to fight those cravings. With a New Year means a fresh start to get those taste buds back on track. Come back to this blog whenever you need new strategies to curb those sugar cravings!!
What is your biggest struggle when it comes to sugar? Let's head into 2021 feeling our best inside and out. It's all about creating less food stress and enjoy tasty food by listening to what our body really wants.