Take a look at any food label and you’ll most likely find sugar or some form of artificial sweeteners. Sugar is everywhere. It’s in our condiments, beverages, cereals, granola bars, salad dressings, sauces, and bread. If you eat any form of packaged or processed food during your day, the chances are pretty high that you are consuming loads of sugar without even realizing it.
Let’s face it, we all know that we need to be eating less sugar. We already know that sugar is harmful for our bodies, but more importantly, we know what our bodies feel like when we eat too much sugar. Most of us can recognize that hyper “sugar high” followed by the inevitable “crash” that leaves us tired, sluggish, headachy, and a little sick to our stomach.
You already know this stuff so I know that you don’t want a lecture about the harmful effects of sugar. You want a solution. And I’m here to help.
1. Get More Sleep
Sleep might seem a little surprising as my number one tip on how to reduce sugar cravings, but it’s number one for a reason. Sugar cravings are simply our body’s way of asking for energy. When we are tired, our bodies will naturally crave a little boost of energy in the form of sugar. And if you are consistently not getting enough sleep, your body will respond by craving even more sugar.
Make sure that you are getting eight hours of sleep and that your body feels rested. The key to getting real sleep is to have a sleep schedule and be consistent in your bed time and the time you wake up. Just like when we were children, our bodies function best when we have a stable bed time and bed time routine so make sure to keep this as constant as possible.
2. Drink More Water
The benefits of drinking water are endless. Water hydrates your skin from the inside out, flushes toxins out of your system, gives you more energy, and curbs your hunger. Drinking water and staying hydrated also curbs sugar cravings. Try this trick: the next time that you are craving something sweet, have a glass or two of water instead. Notice how this decreases or eliminates the craving altogether.
To keep sugar cravings at bay, make sure that you are getting enough water throughout your day by carrying a water bottle with you. Keep water by your bed to help you remember to drink water first thing in the morning. And, keep a pitcher of water handy if you are working at your desk. If you always have water within arm’s reach, it will become second nature for you to drink it often and you will be rewarded with decreased cravings and increased energy.
3. Eat Real Food
This one is really important. Even if you are feeling rested and hydrated, if you are putting sugary, processed foods into your body your body will respond by craving more of those foods and more sugar. So what should you be eating? Load up on vegetables, fruits, legumes, nuts, seeds, and whole grains. Incorporate lots of nutrient-packed, dark, leafy greens and green vegetables into your diet. And be sure to include sweet vegetables like corn, carrots, sweet potatoes, and squash.
Start your day with a green smoothie or protein-packed breakfast quinoa. Enjoy a satisfying lunch like spicy peanut and sweet potato soup or soba noodles with fresh peaches. And try some pasta with golden beets or a Thai quinoa salad for dinner. Still craving something sweet? Try some raw chocolate coconut cupcakes sweetened with natural sweeteners like dates and agave syrup. The point is not to deny yourself dessert for the rest of your life, but instead, to be intentional with your choices when you do choose something sweet.
What areas do you need to focus on to get your sugar-cravings on track?
I have eliminated refined sugar in my diet. I buy fresh produce. I read all labels and recipes – if they include sugar, I don’t use them. For my sweet tooth, which has pretty much disappeared by eliminating sugar, I have vanilla soy with pineapple and banana smoothies. The fruit does the sweetness. If making cookies, I use banana but sometimes Organuc blue agave.