In my previous post I wrote about sugar addiction. Yes, it’s a real thing and if you have a persistent sweet tooth, sugar cravings or you’re bingeing on sugar several times a week, there’s a big chance that you’re a sugar addict. The first step is to recognize that you are indeed a sugar addict. Now, what can we do to deal with this problem? Here’s some tips!
Start by observing yourself
Create self-awareness in your eating habits and triggers by keeping track of how much sugar you’re eating. Also try to get insight in what triggers you to binge on sugar and how you feel after eating sugar. Step back and examine your patterns.
Identify sugar & where it’s hiding
Sugar comes in a lot of forms and disguises. You have to understand that most of the ‘complex’ carbs that we’re consuming are actually not that complex and highly processed. Think pasta, bread and bagels. They act just like sugars in the body and you should avoid them as much as possible.
Learn to read food labels
Educate yourself about what you’re putting into your body. Check the amount of sugar in your food and choose for foods with the least sugar per serving. Be familiar with sugar terminology; (high fructose) corn syrup, sucrose, fructose, honey are all sweeteners. Preferably, eat foods without a label.
Keep sugar & sugary snacks away
Don’t keep sugar and sugary snacks in your house, in your car or at your desk. When it’s not there, it’s difficult to indulge on them. If you can’t throw it away, then at least hide it from your view. Often a large part of the problem is seeing it.
Eat regularly during the day (every 3-5 hours) to prevent your blood sugar level to drop, as this makes you feel hungry and crave sweets and sugary snacks.
Choose whole, unprocessed foods
Whole foods that are closest to their natural form will contain little as possible processed sugar. Fruit and vegetables, which do contain natural sugars, do normally not pose any metabolic problems, especially when you mix them up.
Make sure every meal has protein & healthy fats
Make sure every meal has lean protein and healthy fats in it. This will help you control your blood sugar levels and will prevent sugar cravings during the day.
Keep your body moving
Make sure you keep your body moving. No matter what movement it is, running, a workout in the gym, dancing, yoga or working in your garden, it will reduce your stress levels, increases your serotonin (‘the happiness hormone’) levels and boosts your energy. This will decrease your need for a sugary treat.
Get enough sleep
When you don’t sleep enough and you’re tired during the day, big chance you’ll use sugar for energy to counteract the exhausted feelings. Make sure to get 7-8 hours of sleep. If you have trouble sleeping, look into creating a bedtime routine.
Be mindful of your emotions
Explore the emotional issues around your sugar addiction. Many people turn to sugary foods when they’re stressed, depressed or angry. But the food doesn’t solve emotional issues. Consider whether emotions are involved in your sugar cravings and if you need help to cope with those emotional problems.
Look for distractions
Craving usually last 10-20 minutes max. If a sugar craving hits, try to distract yourself with something else so the craving will pass. Go for a walk in nature or do something else that changes the scenery to distract you.
Don’t substitute artificial sweeteners for sugar
Substituting sugar with artificial sweeteners will do nothing to change your cravings for sugar and might even trigger them.
Sometimes what we perceive as food cravings, is actually thirst. Make sure to be hydrated and drink enough water. Also, replace fruit juice and soda for water to cut out some of your fast sugar intake.
If you have to give into a sugar craving, then choose for a piece of fruit instead. It will satisfy your sweet craving, but is much healthier as it will also come with other nutrients such as vitamins and fiber.
If you feel that it’s impossible to stop eating a cookie or candy bar, then at least try to combine with a healthy food. You’ll satisfy your craving and get some healthy nutrients too.
Avoid excess stress
Avoiding stress can help prevent cravings. If you’re stressed, you hormones go crazy. Cortisol goes up, which makes you hungry and causes storage of fat (see drhyman.com/blog/2014/03/06/top-10-big-ideas-detox-sugar/). Take some slow deep breaths to relax before every meal to relax. This will help the absorption and digestions of nutrients. Meditation can also be a great way to reduce stress.
Create a supportive environment
Ask your family and friends to help you deal with your sugar addiction. Make sure your social environment understands what you’re going through and ask them for help. Talk about your problems.
Reward yourself for successfully managing sugar cravings. Remember why you’re working on dealing with your sugar addiction and then reward yourself for each successful step.
Image courtesy of nenetus, tiverylucky and stockimages at Freedigitalphotos.net.