Recently, I flew cross-country. Onboard my four flights, sugar-packed beverages and snacks dominated the choices offered, and the preferences chosen. Then, once I arrived in the northeast, I ate out a few times. Besides the oversized portions, menus overflowed with simple carbohydrate offerings. And many entrees were breaded – chicken, meat, fish and vegetables. Oh my, I wasn’t in my California bubble anymore! All of this got me thinking about how it’s more difficult to avoid sugar-laden products and refined carbohydrates, especially when traveling. But in your own home, knowing how to stop sugar cravings is totally doable. The good news is that when you tamp down your sugar cravings at home, you’ll have much more resistance to sugary enticements and refined carbs when you travel.
Stress – when you’re stressed, sugar provides a short-term activation of pleasure in the brain.
Sleep Deprivation – when you don’t sleep well, you set yourself up to eat more, and to grab unhealthful snacks. This happens because your hormone levels change:
• An increase in ghrelin, the hunger hormone, stimulates appetite.
• A decrease in leptin, the appetite suppressant hormone, stimulates food consumption.
Environment – Look around. What’s in the refrigerator? The pantry? What snacks are nearby during the day or when working? Having quick access to nearby sugary products is almost impossible to resist.
Ingrained Habits – if after dinner you consistently reach for a bowl of ice cream, then that perpetuates a habit. If having a midday candy bar, or a can of soda is part of your routine, then that becomes habitual as well.
Diet – the composition of your meals directly impacts your cravings. If you don’t achieve longer-term satiety after meals, it’s harder to resist the sugary snacks.
5 Tips to Curb Your Sugar Cravings
1) Reduce Chronic Stress
B vitamins—B1, B2, niacin, folate, and B12—are important for maintaining a healthy nervous system and effectively managing the stress response.
Swap out processed and refined foods (white flour, most pasta and baked goods, white rice) to increase your intake of beneficial B vitamins.
The best sources of B vitamins are:
- Unprocessed, unrefined grains (brown rice, millet, barley, oats)
- Dark, leafy vegetables
- Citrus fruits, avocados, bananas
- Almonds, sunflower seeds
- Beans and lentils
Besides diet, check out this Lady Moxy blog post for more stress reduction ideas.
2. Get Restorative Sleep
Getting consistent sleep for approximately seven hours each night will help curb your sugar cravings. Here are some behavior changes, always in small bites, that will produce the desired results:
- Establish a consistent routine – Go to bed and wake up at the same time each day, even on weekends. Refrain from eating at least three to four hours before bedtime.
- Move during the day – Moderate exercise and a dose of daily sunshine will help you feel more tired at night.
- Turn off tech devices and the news – Separate from your tech devices and turn off the TV, at least one hour before bedtime.
- Limit caffeine intake – If you have difficulty getting to sleep and staying asleep, reduce the amount of caffeinated coffee and tea that you drink and the amount of chocolate that you consume. Especially after lunch.
- Read a book – Read a print book to help refocus attention away from your day and provide an escape hatch.
- Turn on calming sounds – Listen to soothing music or use a calming white noise machine.
3. Change the Environment
A total pantry purge and environment redo is one way to stop sugar cravings.
But going cold turkey doesn’t produce lasting results for the majority of people. Sure, you may have success for a few days or weeks, but before you know it, the cravings will resurface and your resistance will disappear.
Instead, start small!
And take new tiny actions to replace the foods in your environment, one step at a time. Start with the easiest environmental redo to capture an immediate win.
- How about cookies or candy in your cupboard? Is there something less sugary you can grab instead? Or, if you eat three cookies at a time, try eating two cookies instead. The following day, eat just one.
- Ice cream in your freezer? A portion size is a 1⁄2 cup or the size of a lightbulb. How about a half of a lightbulb portion?
- Now, let’s take a peek in your refrigerator. Are you drinking sodas with added sugar? Instead of drinking from the can or bottle, try packing your glass with ice and then filling it with soda. This little trick will help you consume less soda.
- Do you have bread or baked goods sitting on your counter? If they’re made with anything but whole grain flour, almond flour, or bean flour you’re eating refined carbohydrates that are stripped of fiber and nutrients. Make your sandwich an open-faced one, using one slice of bread instead of two. For baked goods, limit your portion size or quantity.
- Chips in your pantry? Chips represent the tantalizing trifecta of fat, salt, and simple carbs. Extremely hard to resist, especially if the bag is sitting on the table ready for endless consumption. Here’s the workaround: Fill a small plate or bowl with chips. Then, put the bag away. “Out of sight, out of mind” is a helpful technique for portion control.
Throughout the day, stay hydrated. Going a step further, drink a glass of water before meals with a slice of lemon or lime for added flavor. This small step will begin to fill you up before you eat.
Next, take a look at what sugary beverages you consume most often. Figure out how many bottles or cans you drink each week. Slowly reduce the amount you drink by one serving per week.
Critical to this ‘reduction in consumption’ exercise is reading the ingredient label on the back of the bottle or can. How much added sugar is there?
Here’s the conversion formula: 4 grams of sugar = 1 teaspoon of sugar.
Sodas, energy drinks, and sports drinks are the worst offenders. For example, a 12 ounce can of Coke® has 39 grams of sugar, which is nearly 10 teaspoons.
Flavored coffee drinks and boba tea also top the list. Instead, opt for drinking water, or tea and coffee with minimal added sugar.
Even commercially available cold pressed juices and smoothies aren’t particularly beneficial when focusing on how to stop sugar cravings. Many are made with fruit juices and pureed fruits that no longer contain the fiber found in healthful whole fruits.
5) Meal Composition
Achieving satiety after meals works wonders for curbing sugar cravings. If you feel full, you won’t resort to mindless snacking.
One important habit involves eating a healthful combination of protein, fat, and fiber with each meal. Protein and “good fats” work together to prevent blood sugar spikes. And foods high in fiber make you feel full, thus eliminating the tendency to snack on sugary foods.
Personalization, accountability, and sustainable habit changes are the cornerstone to success with Lady Moxy.
If you’re interested in how to stop sugar cravings, here are some excellent programs that will help you consume less sugar and enjoy better health.
Lady Moxy Sugar Buster Plan – click for details
1-Week Eat Healthy Challenge – click for details
2-Week Eat Healthy Challenge – click for details