Diet News

How to stop sugar cravings

Thursday, 20 May 2010

Are you a sweet tooth? We all know how unbearable those cravings for chocolate, chips and cakes can be when we’re trying to lose weight. The occasional indulgence is fine, good even, but when we’re snacking on sugary foods every day, it can make it a lot harder to reach our weight loss goals. So what do you do when a sugar craving hits? Here are some ways to pull that sweet tooth and stop sabotaging your weight loss efforts…

 

Change your diet


The long-term solution to reducing your sugar cravings is to develop healthy eating patterns that support your body and make you feel stronger, fresher and more energised. A healthy body is less likely to crave sugar. Often, sugar cravings are causes by a lack of nutrients and fat-soluble vitamins. And the more sugar you eat, the more your body will learn to depend on it and crave it.


Try to make changes to your daily diet plan to include healthy, nourishing foods that keep you feeling full. Include good fats such as olive oil and butter (in moderation!) to help support all your internal functions. Replace processed foods and refined starches with wholegrains. A lack of protein is another factor that can cause sugar cravings, so make sure you’re eating plenty of healthy protein-rich foods like vegetables, legumes, wholegrains, lean meats or tofu.


And drink plenty of water! Often thirst is interpreted as a desire for sugar, so keeping well hydrated will help to prevent snacking on sugary foods. Regular exercise is also important and will make you feel more energised, so develop a fitness plan that works for you and try to stick to it.

 

Choose healthier snacks


When you do crave sugar, try to find a substitute for the chocolate and chips you might automatically reach for. Usually, you’ll crave sweet foods after a meal, or as an energy boost in the afternoon. If you fill your cupboards with healthier alternatives, you can satisfy your cravings without blowing your calorie limit.


Healthy snacks like raisins, carrot sticks, almonds, pumpkin seeds, cherry tomatoes, or wholegrain pretzels or crackers are a good way to keep your energy up. Or, if you really crave something sweeter, try fruits, berries and natural yoghurts, or even sugar-free jelly. Just try to stick with unprocessed foods and keep your portion sizes small. Keep healthy snacks with you at work or whenever you’re out of the home for more than a few hours, so that you’re not tempted to grab a chocolate bar from a vending machine when a craving hits.


Here are some great healthy snacks when you need a little pick-me-up:


  • Carrot sticks with hummus
  • Apple slices with cottage cheese
  • Non-fat yogurt with berries
  • Rice cakes with peanut butter
  • Air-popped popcorn
  • Handful of almonds and walnuts
  • Low-fat natural smoothie
  • Fresh fruit


It’s important not to skip meals, so that you keep your glucose or blood sugar levels up. A drop in blood sugar will cause you to crave sweet foods, and you’re more likely to end up overeating at the next meal to make up for it. Eating a healthy snack every so often, so that with meals you are eating small, nutritious portions every 3 and a half to 4 hours is a good way to keep balanced and energised.


Distract yourself


The other option is to try to wait out the craving. Nutritionists say that most cravings only last a couple of minutes, so if you can distract yourself, it may pass. When you feel a sugar craving coming on, drink some water or a cup of tea, and try to find something else to occupy your mind for ten minutes. Call a friend, take a short walk, or do something that makes you feel good.

Most of the time, you’ll forget all about the craving and be able to continue with your day, without loading on the extra calories.


A good way to help stop cravings is to set yourself daily goals. Make a commitment to get through the day without a sugary snack. The longer you hold off, the easier it gets. Reward yourself for getting through the day and treat yourself in a way that doesn’t involve eating!


Forgive yourself if you do slip up- but try to integrate healthy changes into your daily routine, and you'll be well on track to reaching your weight loss goals, and improving your overall health and wellbeing.



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