9 tips to stop sugar cravings
Feeling guilty about food is all too common, but that doesn't mean it's healthy. It's important to embrace a positive and realistic mindset when it comes to nutrition and food. While some sugar is okay to consume, going overboard will hinder your fitness and health goals. Here are my top nine tips to help you get your sugar cravings under control:
1. Don't deprive yourself of sweet treats.
We all love a sugary snack now and then, and there's no reason to go "cold turkey" and remove them from your diet completely. You just have to make sure your energy-in vs. energy-out scale is balanced daily. One way to do that is to make sure your food pairings are correct to trigger the right hormonal and digestive effects. If you really want some ice cream, treat it like a meal. That way, calorically, you will still be on track, and the sweet or fatty indulgence will digest and process through your system better on its own. No need to feel guilty at all!
2. Creating good habits is vital.
According to several studies, it takes around 21 days to build new habits. If you feel yourself slipping into a sugar habit, you must catch and stop it before you develop a bad habit. For instance, a daily bad habit consisting of consuming sugar, salt, and greasy foods can lead to weight gain and make you feel dependent, tired, and moody if you indulge on a regular basis.
Catch habits early and interrupt them by giving yourself another form of satisfaction— such as working out, hanging out with friends, or watching a movie. The goal is to get your mind off food and onto something equally rewarding.
3. When you get a sugar craving, drink a glass of lemon water before you indulge.
It will help balance out your hormones so that the dessert you have won’t spike your glycemic levels. Another benefit? The water will help you feel satisfied and might even get rid of the sugar craving altogether.
4. If you are craving sugar late at night, floss and brush your teeth.
I'm not kidding! I use this trick all the time. It helps shift the mental focus away from sweets and can often rid you of late-night cravings.
5. It’s actually okay to have dessert!
If you plan a special date, do an incredible dinner tasting, or go home for Thanksgiving, don’t worry about the apple pie or tiramisu—enjoy it! The next day, make sure to get right back on your healthy routine. The main thing about sweet and greasy foods is not to make a habit out of eating them all the time.
6. Stressing about food can actually make things worse.
The hormones produced from stress often play a huge factor in weight gain. So, if you eat something you think is unhealthy, sweet, or high in calories, DO NOT STRESS about it! Once it’s done, it’s done. Instead of stressing, get moving! Do a scorching workout or go for a walk, then make your next meal green and clean. Think you have no time? Remember to make time for what’s important, and your body is one of the most important things you have. How can you take care of anything else if you aren’t 100% yourself?
7. Portions are everything when it comes to sugar.
When you MUST have a cupcake or a candy bar mid-day or after a meal, stick to 100- to 150-calorie portions with 16 grams of sugar or less and do not make it a daily habit!
8. Get cooking!
As the saying goes, if you want something done right, you gotta do it yourself! If you have a crazy sweet tooth, learn how to make your favorite treats. Store-bought foods like cookies and brownies will pack on added sugar and calories. Invest in yourself by recreating your favorite foods in healthier ways. Check out homemade cookie recipes, pancake recipes, and some other sweet-tooth satisfiers. Because if you cook it, you‘ll know what's inside and be far more mindful of your sugar intake.
9. Eat slowly and enjoy it!
Don’t rush. Don’t eat while walking or in front of the computer at work. If you do plan on indulging, take time out and enjoy every part of it! This will leave you feeling more satisfied.
In the end, your goal should be to find a healthy balance and learn to enjoy, but not depend on, food. In life and your daily diet, you have to fight to find a balanced mind, body, and spirit. Never regret your choices—aim to learn from them, and make better ones. When you choose to indulge in your favorite foods, eat slowly, and savor it— no guilt!
Dasha L. Anderson is a celebrity trainer and fitness expert in New York City, with a master's degree in exercise science and sports nutrition and a specialty in performance enhancement and injury prevention. She is also the founder and head certifying instructor of Kettlebell Kickboxing and has contributed to Self, Shape, Fitness Rx, and Epoch Times.