Do you ever find yourself craving sweet snacks? Like candy, cookies, donuts, or cake?
If you do, you’re not alone! I want to talk about sugar cravings, how they affect your brain, and ways you can start to wean yourself off of the sweet stuff!
OK, so let’s talk about SUGAR!
Just to be clear, I’m talking about foods with ADDED sugar like sweet drinks, baked treats, prepared foods (like breakfast cereals), ice cream, and candy.
I’m NOT talking about foods with natural sugar, like fruit.
Let me ask you a quick question…. Do you ever start the day off with a little sugar in your coffee or tea … or have cereal or other quick breakfast like a bagel or muffin?
If you do, you’re jumping on a sugar-craving cycle that will last all day!
Here’s something you should know: sugar lights up the same feedback loops in your brain as addictive drugs like cocaine. When you eat sugar, you literally get a shot of dopamine and other feel-good hormones, and that can make you crave even more.
Do you know how much you’re taking in?
Over time, you can lose track of how much sugar you actually take in during the course of a day.
The problem with that is, added sugar does pretty much NOTHING for you nutritionally. It may give you a short-lived jolt of energy, but you’ll regret that when you discover that in the long run it actually ends up making you feel more tired, and leaves you craving more.
You can end up in a cycle of eating sugar, which raises your blood sugar level so your body has to send out insulin to metabolize it … and that leaves you with lower blood sugar, which makes you tired and craving even MORE sugar.
Over time this can add up to major health problems like insulin resistance, metabolic disease, inflammation, diabetes and a higher risk of other diseases.
Sugar craves sugar!
Have you ever felt a sugar “hangover” after eating something like cake or candy? It’s no joke. You feel tired, cranky, shaky and some people even say they notice their joints ache if they eat too much!
One way to know that you might want to consider cutting back on your sugar intake is if the idea of it makes you feel resistance. Like you REALLY don’t want to do it.
You know, like it will be too much work, or you wonder how you will get through the afternoon without a little sweet pick-me-up to keep you going.
I know firsthand how that feels! We’ve all been caught in that sugar cycle at one time or another… it’s hard to avoid in our grab-and-go culture. But cutting back is SO WORTH IT.
Once you make the transition to a lower-sugar diet you’ll feel so much better you’ll be amazed. Also, you’ll be shocked at how overly sweet some foods taste once your taste buds get back to normal!
If you are on the sugar roller coaster, getting off of it is truly liberating. One of the things that surprised me when I finally ditched the added sugar was how “even” I felt over the course of the day.
I had more constant energy and I generally felt more balanced. I hadn’t even realized how much my energy cycled up and down each day, and then one day after about a week without added sugar, I realized how much calmer and less stressed I was.
So, are you ready for the 5 different tips you can take to get off sugar?
Both work, but I’m definitely a fan of one versus the other.
Here’s the first way you can get off sugar, which I don’t necessarily recommend. Starting right now, right this minute, you rip off the Band-Aid and cut out all the added sugar.
Just do it, and get it done.
Depending on how much sugar you normally eat each day, this could mean you have to ride out some cravings and fatigue, and you might even feel like you are coming down with the flu for a day or so.
You will have to rely on willpower if you go this route, but it will get the job done. There’s some value in that, but there are quite a few negatives.
A big one is that if you have one slip and eat something with added sugar, chances are you’ll go right back to your old behaviors because you haven’t had time to replace your old habits with newer ones.
Habits are pretty major when comes to sticking with your lower-sugar diet, or any other lifestyle change.
That’s why I usually recommend an approach that’s gentler on your body, creates new habits and gets the job done – even if it takes a little longer.
Basically all you will do is cut back on your sugar intake over time – either over the course of a few days, or a week or two. It’s your choice!
The first step starting right now is to cut back the amount of added sugars you normally eat by HALF…
- So, if you add sugar to your coffee or tea in the morning, start out by cutting the amount in half. That means if you put in a teaspoon, cut that back to a half-teaspoon. Gradually you will cut back to using no sugar at all, a little at a time.
You can add other flavors like cinnamon to help spice it up. It sounds weird, but it’s actually tasty, plus if you use Ceylon cinnamon it helps keep your blood sugar in balance.
You might even find yourself drinking less coffee than usual, which isn’t the worst thing in the world!
- Second, cut back on sugary drinks like sodas or iced coffees or teas. Again, depending on how much you drink, you can start drinking half as much soda.
I don’t recommend using diet drinks or artificial sweeteners, but if you absolutely MUST have soda, you can temporarily substitute 1 diet soda a day, with the goal of getting off of that as soon as possible. There is evidence that diet sodas can still cause cravings, which defeats the purpose.
If you miss having “bubbles” in your drink like the carbonation from soda, try using flavored sparkling water or seltzer water and add some fruit to it like strawberries or watermelon. It’s actually very good and refreshing!
- Also, make sure you have plenty of fresh fruit around that you can grab whenever you start to crave a sweet treat. If you get a craving for something like a cookie, grab the fruit instead. This does require willpower but it doesn’t take long for you to start noticing the benefits.
- Get your zzz’s. When your body is not getting enough sleep your grehlin hormone goes up and that’s the hormone responsible for those hunger cravings.
- Increase your protein intake. You will have fewer cravings if you aren’t hungry and protein will keep you fuller longer. Less hunger, fewer cravings.
And that’s what it is really all about, anyway: making upgraded choices that you feel good about… until those upgraded choices become your new “normal” and you don’t even have to think about it 🙂
Need some help?
Learning how to navigate all the noise and continue to work towards your goals when your body is changing can be tough. I can help through coaching. If you would like to learn more about healthy eating, exercise and lifestyle changes—in a way that’s personalized for your unique body, preferences, and circumstances—consider It Fits Me. Contact me to learn more.