Cutting back on processed sugar is so important for maintaining a healthy lifestyle. This post will help you understand why you crave sweets and how to stop sugar cravings, naturally!
We all have days when we just want to gobble up a bag of skittles or (insert sweet of choice). Sugar cravings are totally normal and we all get them.
So how can something that feels so right…be so wrong for our bodies?
I like to see cravings as a signal rather than a direction. While it might feel like your body needs a bunch of Oreos, try not to take it literally!
Your body is actually craving something energizing and nutritious, but it’s reaching for the fastest type of gratification or reward it knows; processed sugar.
Yep, you’ll find processed sugar in so many of the food and beverages regularly offered in our supermarkets: soft drinks, candy, baked goods, dairy, protein bars, bread, tomato sauce, and the list goes on.
In fact, studies show that Americans average about 77 grams a day, which is translates to 57 pounds of sugar per year. Crazy right?
As this truly is a familiar struggle, today I’ll be sharing with you exactly what I did to stop these persistent sugar cravings!
What Does Sugar Do To Your Body?
When eaten in excess, sugar can have negative effects on our bodies. In fact, a study done by the American Journal of Public Health found that drinking a 20-ounce, sugar-sweetened soda daily was associated with the equivalent of 4.6 years of cell aging, which is basically the same as smoking cigarettes.
It can also spike your sugar insulin, put you at risk for type 2 diabetes, and increase your blood pressure and chances of heart disease. The negative effects of sweet foods and too much sugar are countless.
Why Do We Get Sugar Cravings?
We get sugar cravings for a wide variety of reasons, some more serious than others. Here are a few common causes that you can overcome through simple lifestyle adjustments:
- Inadequate carb intake: When you’re on a diet, one of the first food groups that often gets cut is carbs. But keep in mind that sudden (and drastic) lowering of carb levels can drive you straight to the sugar bowl.
- Imbalanced diet: If you’ve been eating unhealthy food, your blood sugar might be out of balance and your energy levels tend to crash. This results in a “hangry” mood…which craves instant (sugary) gratification. Be sure to get plenty of whole grains, legumes, proteins and healthy fats.
- Iron deficiency: You may not know this, but iron deficiency will make you feel groggy, lethargic, and depleted. What happens next? Cravings for a sugar boost!
- Lack of sleep: When you aren’t getting your 8 hours of sleep, your body produces more “hunger hormone.” Since you haven’t exactly refueled your body, it will search for a sugary pick-me-up.
What Else Should I Eat When I Crave Sugar?
When you’re craving sugar (or processed foods that contain it) I’d recommend any of the following to take the edge off. Snack on:
- Fresh fruits like berries
- Dark chocolate
- Chia seeds
- Greek yogurt
- Dates (truly healthy sweet treats)
- Sweet potatoes
All of the above will give your body an energy boost that’s actually more balanced and long lasting than say, cookies and ice cream.
Please know that I’m not about telling somebody to completely cut out the things that they love. One thing to try is balancing your sugary favorite with some of the items mentioned.
Such as…homemade vanilla ice cream with berries and chia seeds on top. The amount of sugar in homemade ice cream is much lower than store bought ice cream, and you avoid excess sugar consumption while satisfying a sweet tooth.
How To Stop Sugar Cravings Naturally?
Sometimes you may think you have a sugar addiction but it’s really just a habit. If you find yourself struggling to control your cravings for sugary foods, try the following 6 tips to curb your need for processed sugars, naturally!
#1 Drink Lots Of Water
I know you know that sodium dehydrates the body. But did anyone tell you that sugar does the same? If you’ve been eating or drinking more than your recommended daily sugar intake, then you’re probably dehydrated. Your body won’t feel so great and you might find yourself grabbing for MORE sugar.
Instead, drink lots of water. Try to keep away from sugary beverages, teas, and coffees, as they are diuretics and tend to dehydrate you more.
TIP: What I normally do is drink a glass of water every hour.
#2 Don’t Skip Out On Meals
Sometimes our sugar cravings stem from actual hunger. Makes sense! So even if you are on a diet, make sure that you have at least three real meals a day.
Always remember that extremely calorie-restrictive diets will make you crave sweets like crazy, so best to balance it out. What makes a balanced meal? It’s got the right balance of protein, fiber, and vegetables!
#3 Read Your Nutrition Labels
Before you buy anything make sure to read the nutritional label. If you see anything that ends in -ose, like sucrose, maltose, dextrose, fructose, glucose, galactose, high fructose corn syrup, etc., don’t buy it. These all mean sugar! And additives and artificial sweeteners really don’t do anyone any favors either.
This is possibly the fastest way to curb your sugar cravings because it, well, restricts your access! I always recommend steering clear of processed foods, and cooking at home (as much as possible) so you know exactly what goes into your food.
You can also check out my post on how to spot hidden sugars in food.
#4 Spice It Up!
To keep your blood sugar levels nice and even, add more spices to your diet. Some of the spices that I’ve found to be really effective in curbing my sugar cravings are cinnamon and turmeric.
In fact, a study showed that consuming 500 mg of cinnamon extract daily for 12 weeks decreased a marker of oxidative stress by 14% in adults with prediabetes.
#5 Eat Some Green Beans
Eat green beans to side step your sugar cravings. Yes, it’s a thing! Green beans randomly contain a phytochemical that helps stop sugar cravings. So compared to many foods that send our insulin levels through the roof…the wonderful green bean won’t cause blood sugar spikes at all.
#6 Bulk Up On Protein
Don’t be afraid to bulk up on protein! It can seem a bit counterintuitive, especially if you’re on a calorie deficit, but the more protein you consume the less sugar you’ll crave.
And by protein, I don’t mean just meat. There are vegetarian options that are packed with protein like eggs, yogurt, cheese, and many more! Try vegan options, too.
Another super easy way to bulk up on all important protein is to add cleanish Brand Protein Powder to your fave pancakes, smoothies and shakes. Flavors like Chocolate + Sea Salt help to satisfy a craving for something delicious, while reducing hunger, improving injury repair and recovery, as well as aiding in weight loss.
I said this earlier but I just wanted to reconfirm for y’all that sugar cravings are NORMAL, but they could also be a sign that’s there something off balance (maybe you’re not sleeping enough, have an iron deficiency, etc.)
That’s why it’s important to tune into your body and take note if your cravings start to feel unusual.
Now if you want to go all in and completely quit sugar, read this blog post on How To Quit Sugar: The 7 Steps I Took To Finally Quit Sugar And How You Can, Too!
This post contains affiliate links for products I use regularly and highly recommend.