Sugar Cravings: Why They Happen & How to Reduce Them
Do you crave a dessert after every meal or do you often find yourself munching on the candies or devouring ice cream straight from the tub? Consumption of more than recommended sugar intake (30g per day for an adult) can leave you feeling groggy, lethargic, and wanting more. If you wonder how to reduce sugar cravings then this article is for you.
Sugar cravings are a part of a vicious circle in which you eat sugar then it gets consumed faster than any other food and then you want more sugar. This cycle keeps on going and hurting your health until you decide to do something about it. This article will tell you how to stop sugar cravings instantly and get rid of these empty calories in your body.
Medical Reasons Behind Sugar Cravings
There can be many reasons behind your sugar cravings that range from pure habit to a deficiency or just a cope-up mechanism to handle stress.
- Stress – Whenever we are stressed, our body releases a plethora of hormones such as Cortisol, Adrenalin and Ghrelin. These hormones stimulate hunger and cravings. As sugar releases endorphins, many people tend to deal with emotional trauma by eating lots of sugar-laden snacks.
- Magnesium Deficiency – A craving for chocolate is a sign of magnesium deficiency as chocolates are rich in magnesium.
- Behavioral Patterns – If you are in a habit of eating a bowl of ice cream in summer after every meal, then you will naturally crave it, especially in summer. The body becomes conditioned to such behavioral patterns.
- Low Blood Sugar Levels – Hypoglycemia is another reason for sugar cravings. The body demands something sweet to boost up the blood sugar levels instantly.
- Loneliness – It is rather surprising but recent studies have concluded that loneliness can lead to sugar cravings too (2). So maybe you really need a friend and not a snack!
- Vitamin Deficiency – If your body is deficient in essential vitamins and minerals, then it will crave sugar for instant energy.
That brings us to the real question: how to curb sugar cravings naturally? Let’s see how!
Also Read: Natural Sugar vs Added Sugar
How to Reduce Sugar Cravings
- Choose Healthy Options
If you just can’t get rid of that craving to have something sweet, then switch to healthy options such as fruits, berries and nature’s sugar such as raisins, dates and other dry fruits. You can mix some fruits in yoghurt and keep it in the fridge to have a chilled dessert after your meals to satisfy those nasty cravings.
Chilled Fruit with peanut butter dip is also a good option. Spicy foods are also known to reduce sugar cravings, just make sure you don’t jump to junk food because they also contain lots of hidden sugar.
- Distract Your Mind
Most of the time you are just bored and not really craving sugar. You can drink some water and opt for chewing gum to distract the mind.
Sometimes, a simple activity such as taking a walk can simply let go of your sugar craving instantly. Even the studies have proven the efficacy of a walk. They have proven that any exercise reduces the urge for sugary snacks (3).
- Limit the Portion Size
If you are giving in to your sugar cravings, then don’t give up fully. Limit the portion size of your dessert. If you used to eat 2 candies in the past, then eat one this time.
If you used to grab a full-sized chocolate bar after dinner, then switch to half of it or the smaller version of it. Let the damage be the least.
- Eat a balanced meal
Having a balanced meal is as important as having a meal on time to reduce your sugar cravings naturally. A balanced meal consists of complex carbs(whole grains), fat and protein along with high fiber content.
So, your plate should have whole grains, salad, legumes and some amount of oils as well. You can finish it with natural sweet like dates to satisfy your sweet tooth. Adding more protein to your meals is known to curb the sugar craving and prevent hypoglycemia as well.
- Choose Naturally Healthy beverages
When in doubt, Drink water! To reduce your sugar cravings naturally, drink a glass of water before you grab a sweet. It will reduce the amount of your sweet consumption. Always switch to healthy beverages like electrolyte drinks, coconut water and sparkling water. Avoid carbonated soda drinks and artificial juices as they will exceed your daily limit of sugar consumption in just one serving.
- Make a Goal
Set a goal you can look forward to, there are many courses on the internet that can help you in reducing sugar cravings. They help you stay motivated with a goal like ‘21 days to stop sugar cravings’ or ‘30 days to reduce sugar cravings’ etc.
This helps break the bad habits and curb the cravings to a much greater extent (4). However, it is very important that you don’t jump to your pre-21 days routine post your course.
Foods That Curb Sugar Cravings
- Dry fruits & Nuts
- Healthy Beverages
- Natural Alternatives to Sugar such as monk fruit, stevia etc
How to Stop Sugar Cravings At Night?
- Limit sugar intake during dinner
- No sugary drinks should be included in dinner
- Don’t skip dinner rather eat a protein and fiber rich meal
- Switch to yoghourt, berries, a piece of dark chocolate and dry fruit mix if required
Stopping the intake of unnecessary processed sugar will keep you in good health. Decreasing the sugar in the diet can even reverse the fatty liver changes (5) and ensure better liver health. Removing excess sugar from your diet will give you clear skin, better energy levels, fewer signs of ageing, optimum weight and healthy teeth too. So switch to nature’s sweetness whenever those sugar cravings hit you.