Sugar cravings: Ten ways to wean yourself off sweets forever without getting bitter

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A box of Dunkin doughnuts. — Reuters
A box of Dunkin doughnuts. — Reuters

These advice-backed suggestions from experts will assist you in conquering your sweet addiction if you’re having trouble controlling your sugar craving.

But why do we get sugar cravings, and what can we do about them? For nutritionist Julia Leon, understanding where your sugar cravings come from is the first step to banishing them, News.com.au reported.

“Sugar cravings are something that we all experience from time to time – whether they’re the result of stress, lack of sleep, menstruation, poor eating habits or even certain nutrient deficiencies or your gut microbiome,” she explains. “Put simply, sugar cravings arise when there is an imbalance of blood sugar levels in the body, so the key here is to help manage this through diet and lifestyle.”

How can we regulate our craving for sweets rather than the other way around? All the solutions are in the four specialists’ hands as follows:

Handle stress differently

“Find a healthy way to manage stress – it’s a game-changer when it comes to cravings. This can be challenging and might look different for different people, but things like sound baths, deep breathing, calming exercises (such as yoga) and meditation can help to prevent emotional eating, reducing the need to seek comfort from sugary foods.” – Andrea Zapantis

Consume more foods high in water

“Many of us will often misinterpret thirst and hunger, so try to include water-rich foods into your daily hydration quota, such as cucumber, celery, watermelon, tomatoes, strawberries and oranges. By avoiding dehydration, you may be meeting your body’s needs without having to reach for high-sugar foods to satisfy that craving.” – Julia Leon

Try the four Ds

“When you first notice the craving, start to become aware of what it feels like in the body and where. Then, remind yourself that a craving can build for 20 to 45 minutes and spontaneously absolves. The key is being able to tolerate the craving until it goes away. Some people find the ‘4 Ds’ useful: Delay (purchasing food), Drink water (and sip slowly), Deep breaths and Distract (do something else).” – Dr Stephen Bright

Work out daily

“Exercise helps tame sugar cravings purely by its impact on our brain chemistry. When you exercise, your body releases endorphins or ‘feel-good’ chemicals and boosts serotonin, which is a mood-enhancing brain chemical. Instead of satisfying the craving with sugar, exercise can give the body a much healthier hit. Aim for activity that raises your heart rate and makes you sweat – think HIIT, running, aerobics, dancing, even roller blading.” – Prue Harvey

Retrain those tastebuds

“The more sugar you have, the more you crave. However, it’s possible to retrain your body, brain and tastebuds into wanting less. Start with gradual changes such as reducing the sugar in your morning coffee by half a teaspoon until you eventually get to zero, swap flavoured yoghurt for Greek yoghurt or milk chocolate for at least 70 per cent dark. Be mindful of hidden sugars in packaged food and condiments and limit your intake of high sugar treats, including pastries, ice-cream and biscuits.” – Julia Leon

Make protein your friend

“Making sure you have a quality source of protein in every meal is a sure-fire way to keep you feeling satisfied and swerve sugar cravings. High-protein foods include eggs, dairy, lean meats, poultry, fish, grains (especially quinoa), legumes, tofu, tempeh and nuts, so get more of them on your plate daily.” – Julia Leon

Fall in love with slow-burning foods

“Make sure you’re fuelled appropriately to reduce the body’s need for a quick hit of energy via sugar. Bolster your carbohydrate and protein stores with foods like wholegrains, legumes, beans and grains, as well as vegetables like leafy greens, mushrooms, cauliflower and sweet potatoes. If you’re fuelled appropriately with plenty of slow-burning food, it will naturally help you avoid sugar cravings.” – Prue Harvey

Sleep adequately

“Easier said than done, I know, but making sure you get a good night’s sleep (around eight hours) can help keep those sugar cravings at bay. Why? Because sleep has a profound effect on our appetite regulating hormones (ghrelin and leptin). When we’re well-rested, these hormones usually find their own happy balance. When we’re not, our bodies produce more ghrelin (which stimulates appetite) and less leptin (which suppresses appetite).” – Julia Leon

Start food journalling

“The secret to effectively managing sugar cravings is to prioritise healthier eating. Start by keeping a food journal so you can record everything you eat. You’ll be able to see where your problem areas are pretty quickly. Then try to make every meal balanced by having a combination of protein, healthy fats and fibre. This helps to regulate your blood sugar levels and reduce sweet cravings. Remember that moderation is key when it comes to food.” – Andrea Zapantis

Focus on long-term change

“The worst thing that you can do when you experience a sugar craving is think if you give in to the craving, then all the changes you’ve been making to avoid sugar in your diet have been wasted. This isn’t a game of snakes and ladders; there are no shortcuts and no starting (and restarting) from scratch. Every effort you make to shift a behaviour or habit increases the likelihood that long-term change will be successful. So, keep on going.” – Dr Stephen Bright 



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