It’s no secret that a diet high in added sugars isn’t doing your health any good. You put yourself at risk for obesity, diabetes and heart disease, along with other conditions and diseases. But sugar addiction can make it really difficult to kick the habit to the curb.
So where to start? We’ve got you covered with our 4-step plan that will teach you to that the sweet life doesn’t have to come in the form of added sugar. With time, patience and some knowledge, you can kick that unwanted sugar addiction in no time.
Learn where sugar hides
Just because you don’t put teaspoons of sugar in your coffee, or mindlessly scarf down cookies when that 2pm slump hits, doesn’t mean you’re not victim of consuming sugar in other ways.
Your cereal, your granola bar, even your yogurt can all be chock-full of added sugar. If you’re going to buy pre-packaged snacks and meals, you ought to know what’s in them. Be sure you’re looking at labels religiously.
The first part in the 4-step plan to stop sugar cravings for good is to pinpoint all of sugar’s many names, like: anhydrous dextrose, brown sugar, cane crystals, cane sugar, corn sweetener, corn syrup, corn syrup solids, crystal dextrose, evaporated cane juice, fructose sweetener, fruit juice concentrates, high-fructose corn syrup, honey, liquid fructose, malt syrup, maple syrup, molasses, pancake syrup, raw sugar, sugar, syrup and white sugar.
You’ll never be able to curb your sugar intake if you don’t know cut out the foods that have it.
Curb your cravings
Once you know where sugar hides, the next thing you have to do is cut it out. But that doesn’t mean going cold turkey. There are plenty of ways to have sweetness in your life without subjecting yourself to the processed, bad stuff.
When your craving for sugar hits, know your alternatives. If you love your sugary soda, try replacing it with a naturally flavored soda water. If you love the deliciousness of a chocolaty treat, go for cacao! Most store-bought chocolate is super processed and is rarely real chocolate, but just a bunch of refined sugar.
Choose raw cacao to make a sweet tasting snack or dessert.
You might love sweetness in your smoothie. Try opting for nature’s candy, like berries and banana instead of tossing in artificial sweeteners. Even simpler, try chewing on dried fruits to curb your craving for sugary candy or the need for dessert.
Eat more real food
One you start making these swaps, the next part in the 4-step plan to stop sugar cravings for good is to realize a very important thing: real food is really incredible. It’s delicious, can be naturally sweet, and doesn’t send you into a sugar crash, but actually sustains you all day long.
As you become more accustomed to whole foods, start making more and more swaps. Avoid processed dressings, sauces, and condiments (sugar alert!), and utilize the creaminess of avocado and hummus, the zest of fresh citrus, and the sweetness of raw foods like strawberries in your salad and tomatoes on your sandwich.
If you’re feeling hungry, and sugar is on the brain, eat smart. Grab a quick apple as a sweet and healthy snack, and stock up on slower digesting fuel sources such as proteins to fill up so you won’t find your tummy grumbling and subsequently searching for quick burning sweets.
Replace food rewards with other pleasures
When a sugar craving hits, realize it’s not about nourishing yourself, because it’s not the same as hunger. In fact, it’s actually your brain craving a release of dopamine in the reward system.
Don’t reward this empty pleasure. Instead, pick healthier, more fulfilling pleasures to make you feel good. What else feels indulgent? Is it a massage? A much needed trip to the nail salon? Perhaps curling up with a good book feels really, really rewarding.
If you need some sort of oral fixation, grab a cup of tea, or sip on some fruit-infused water.
If you feel like your hard workout deserves a reward, think before you eat. Are you hungry, or are you just trying to make yourself feel balanced? Before you reach for the cookie, do something else. Grab a friend to see a movie, plop down in a sun chair on the beach, treat yourself to that sale you’ve been wanting to check out.
You can’t replace one addiction with another, however, so be sure that whatever you are choosing to reward yourself with isn’t going against your overall desire to lead a healthy lifestyle.
As you can see, this 4-step plan to stop sugar cravings for good is equal parts about food just as much as it is about mind games. Take things slow, don’t be too hard on yourself, and perhaps keep a food diary to see where your biggest triggers are so that you can make the healthy swaps you need.