How to Cut Sugar Cravings

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.

pancakesResetting 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 

grapesSee 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!

>>Reduce salt

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

KaleIf 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.

>>Express yourself

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…?!

BOTTOM LINE:

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.

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6 thoughts on “How to Cut Sugar Cravings”

  • Amy,
    I have been through this myself. I was eating too much sugar and now I am realizing just how much we get in everyday foods. I was always careful with beverages but so many common foods have it too.

    I am much more careful now.

    I did not know about salt and sugar cravings being connected.

    Thanks,
    Jessica

    • Thanks for writing, Jessica! Sugar cravings are really difficult to fight sometimes, but absolutely possible with a little discipline. Yes, salt and sugar cravings are definitely connected. They are at opposite ends of the spectrum, and when you have one, you crave the other — yin/yang – type of thing. I wrote about it here. Thanks!

  • I’m a sweet tooth, too. I have for some point reduced my intake but sometimes, I would just get back into indulging and getting guilty. 🙁 Thanks for listing these down, I’ve been doing most of the things you’ve listed but not snacking before bedtime. (Waaah!)

    I also take spirulina, chlorella and other plant proteins… helps a bit reduce sweet cravings…

    • Thanks, Marie, and yes, it is difficult to cut out the cravings, but definitely possible! Keep doing what you are doing, and the key is to get rid of all the trigger foods in your house! Thanks for writing!

  • I had no idea that too much salt causes sugar cravings…? Is that why I always want ice cream after Chinese food?! Thanks for your suggestions and would love if you could post more on the connection between salt and sugar cravings as well as exercise reducing sugar cravings. Thanks so much Amy! Love your blog!

    • Yes, Debra — that is why you always want ice cream after Chinese food…! This is also discussed in Verne Varona’s book, Macrobiotics for Dummies, which explains all about the balance of foods on a concentric circle, and that the further out (extreme) you go, the more unbalanced it becomes. I will be writing more about this, along with Verne so keep checking back! You can also follow me at Facebook.com/natureshealingstrategies.
      Thanks!

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