One of the best things you can do to improve your overall health, is reduce the amount of sugar in your diet.
This can be difficult if you eat a lot of packaged foods, since sugar is one of the most pervasive ingredients contained in them.
Food manufacturers know that adding sugar to foods makes them taste better, and research has demonstrated that sugar is in fact addictive; this means more sales for them, but more sugar cravings for you.
However, reducing your sugar intake comes with a whole host of positive health benefits:
- You’re more likely to lose weight.
- You’ll have more energy.
- You’ll have fewer of the mood swings caused by energy highs and lows that come after eating sugar.
- Your ability to concentrate will improve.
- You may be less prone to the degenerative diseases that come with ageing.
How To Stop Sugar Cravings
Significantly reducing your sugar intake can make a huge difference to your overall health and wellbeing. So, how do you go about ridding yourself of this addictive habit?
Here are 5 suggestions to kick your sugar addiction to the curb…
1. Be aware
One thing that makes it difficult to reduce the sugar in your diet is that it’s found in foods which you may not be aware of.
One example of this is low fat yogurt. You may think it’s a healthy option, but it is probably loaded with sugar or artificial sweeteners to enhance the flavor after the fat has been reduced. Instead, go for a natural yogurt, and add some extra fruit for flavoring at home, if you need to.
Try to get into the habit of checking labels to look for terms indicating a hidden sugar source. Names like sweetener, syrup, or any term ending in “ose”, such as glucose, dextrose, lactose, are what you’re on the lookout for.
Here are 50 names for sugar, to give you some idea of the scale of this problem.
You should avoid high fructose corn syrup in particular, and I don’t recommend artificial sweeteners as a good replacement either. Better to wean yourself off a liking for sweet foods altogether.
2. Eat whole foods
Processed foods tend to be extremely high in sugar and salt.
So, the more you can incorporate whole, fresh foods into your diet in place of overly processed foods, the less likely you are to be eating hidden sugars.
So, what are whole foods? The mainstay of your diet should be foods like,
- Fresh, seasonal fruits and vegetables
- Lean meats like turkey, chicken, beef, and lots of fish
- Legumes and eggs
- Nuts and seeds
- Milk and dairy foods
- Healthy fats and oils
Foods like these help to moderate your blood sugar levels and fill you up, this means that you are less tempted to reach for sugary foods between meals, and late in the evening.
If you missed it, check out my article on how to have quick healthy snacks available in your home at all times.
Remember, there’s nothing wrong with an occasional dessert. I had homemade chocolate cake and apple crumble at the weekend — I know, what a splurge, right?
Well, it’s the habitual intake of sugary foods that cause the problem. No-one wants to say “bye!” to dessert and cookies for life, but having them everyday is a big mistake in the long-run.
3. Check your drinks
You may be pretty good at watching what you eat, but you need to check your drinks, too, as many of them contain heaps of sugar.
Soft drinks are the main culprit, one can of soda contains around 10 teaspoons of sugar. Also, many commercially prepared fruit juices are just as bad. And, if you are a sweet tea of coffee drinker, that can add up to a significant amount, especially if you drink coffee from places like Starbucks, which are very sugar-heavy.
So, what is the solution?
Water — and lots of it.
I’m not saying don’t ever drink tea or coffee again, but do make sure that water is your main source of hydration.
And, think about completely cutting all other sugary drinks, like soft drinks, fruit juices, etc., from your diet. They provide empty calories, and absolutely no benefit to your body.
4. Exercise regularly
For many people, sugar cravings are a response to low mood, but exercise has been shown to boost endorphins and serotonin levels, which gives you a natural mood-boosting effect.
This is just one reason to exercise for a few minutes everyday, as a way to help boost your mood, and therefore help you to better manage your sugar cravings.
5. Manage stress
Most of us are prone to reach for sugary foods when we’re feeling stressed.
However, getting proper rest, and finding ways to manage your stress levels, will make you better able to fight the sugar cravings when they do set in.
So, how do you stop sugar cravings?