How to Cut Sugar Cravings
Back in my early days, and up until recently, I had a dysfunctional relationship with sugar. I had no off-switch and couldn’t stop until I forcibly removed myself from the situation and put the offending substance into the trash. In spite of the health warnings (sugar-induced sleep, pre-diabetes, exhaustion, carb hang-overs…), I would forget about how I would feel, how the scale would look, how the jeans fit. I now fully understand the power that sugar has over us, and our consumption is out of control. Breast cancer was a wake-up call to learn how to cut sugar cravings, and have a healthier relationship with the most readily available and addictive substance out there.
Resetting my taste buds was not an easy thing to do, and it required an all-out war with my kitchen, discarding anything that would trigger the sugar-laden-rollercoaster I was on. What ultimately helped the most, was educating myself.
I always imagine the concentric circles in the water after a rock is thrown. The center of that circle, in the middle point, represents all things plant-based. No extremes of sugar or salt. It is the natural balance of things. The more I step outside the center of that circle and start eating foods that are not serving me in any nutritive capacity, the more I swing to the outer circles, eating white flour, more sugar, animal protein, dairy, etc. Pretty soon I am on opposite sides of the circle, where one side is sugar and the other side is salt. Like everything else in life, this, too, has to balance out. So if I eat too much salt, I will crave sugar. If I have too much sugar, I will crave salt….and the cycle continues.
Here are 7 ways to reduce sugar cravings
See how these suggestions apply to your eating or your lifestyle, and how you can make adjustments and accommodations. Reducing your desire or addiction for sugar should not require Herculean will power. Learning how to detox naturally, and becoming conscious of the physiological and lifestyle factors that stimulate sugar cravings should make taming your sweet tooth a piece of cake!
The need for dietary salt from natural sources (sun-dried sea salt) is dependent on several factors; a lack of salt can cause fatigue, stimulate a desire to overeat and often result in a craving or animal protein. However, with the availability of good quality sea salt, miso paste, tamari soy sauce and natural pickles, it’s quite easy to overdose. Thirst and a craving for sweet foods is one of the most reliable indicators of excess dietary salt. Salt is addictive, just like sugar is, and it sets up a cycle of extremes.
>>Reduce animal proteins
The standard four basic food group propaganda was force-fed to the American public along with the myth that animal protein should be a dietary staple. The meat and potatoes mentality has to re-think its philosophy since established research shows excess animal protein can lead to colon and prostate cancer, heart disease and weight gain. If this applies to you eat less in volume (2 to 4 ounce servings) and limit it to three to four times per week (maximum), as opposed to daily. Ultimately, no animal protein is best — for you, and the sentient beings we love!
>>Eat more frequently throughout the day
One of the most common reasons for sugar cravings–especially at night, is skipping meals or waiting long periods you stop supplying your blood with glucose. The blood sugar drops and by the time you finally get around to eating, you’re going nuts for simple sugar. You’re also likely to end up overeating or craving something fatty as a compensation for sugar. Initially, don’t wait more than 3 to 4 hours between meals. I usually eat every 2 to 3 hours, otherwise I become famished, and will make poor food choices. A few almonds, a piece of fruit, whole grain crackers, carrots and guacamole, go a long way toward preventing sugar binges.
>>Avoid eating prior to bedtime
If your body’s digesting when it requires much needed rest, you’ll require more sleep, dream excessively and find it difficult awakening with alertness. Good deep sleep will result in wide-awake days. Eating to close to bedtime creates a groggy awakening craving the stimulation of sugar (or caffeine) the following morning. Eat a light evening dinner at least 2 to 3 hours before retiring. Also, if it is getting very late, and you are craving something sweet, or salty, that is your cue that it is time to go to sleep!
>>Exercise moderately, but consistently
Daily aerobic exercise will increase circulation and strengthen will-power. Brisk walking, biking, light jogging, whatever you can do to get moving, naturally increases sensitivity to the effects of sugar. Try to get 20 to 30 minutes of some type of pleasurable exercise at least 5 times per week. Now that the weather is turning warm for my dear readers north of the equator, it is a perfect time to get outside! Plant an organic veggie garden, plant flowers, plant the desire to move that body!
>>Eat natural, whole complex carbs
If your daily diet includes whole grains (brown rice, oats, millet, barley, etc.), vegetables (roots, greens and round vegetables such as squashes, cabbages, etc.) as a primary fuel, you’ll find you automatically crave less sugar. Emphasizing sweet vegetables such as carrots, cooked onions, corn, cabbage, parsnips, squashes, etc., also adds a natural sweetness to meals. If you’re adventurous, sea vegetables (“seaweeds”) can do a lot to enrich the blood. I prefer the dried shaved or grated sea vegetables, which I can just put into soup or over a salad.
This doesn’t mean you have to broadcast every feeling–only those that matter and to those who really matter to you. Food indulgence, especially with sweets, is a convenient way to anesthetize feelings. Sugar can consume you with sensory pleasure, temporarily providing mental relief from whatever might be stressful. However, sweets can hinder energy levels and mental clarity, so in the long run your emotional coping ability becomes compromised. Raise your hand if you’ve consciously numbed yourself with a pint of ice cream…?!
We all know that sugar is part of our lives, but as long as we use this magic elixir sparingly and as occasional treats, we’ll be better off. Using the tools listed above, referencing a GI (Glycemic Index) scale, and eating as close to plants as possible, will go a long way to maintaining balance and clarity! The New Glucose Revolution by Jennie Brand-Miller and Kaye Foster-Powell is a great way to get started on how to cut sugar cravings.