Sugar has been found to be present in around 75 percent of packaged food items in the US. So, what causes sugar cravings? A number of reasons have been put forward for this, like adrenal fatigue, food allergies, parasites, an overgrowth of bacteria, hormonal changes in women every month, Candia, among many more. Adrenal fatigue usually results from stress, and to deal with that, your body needs sugar, making you have sugar cravings. But the point is that sugar increases the stress in our bodies, making us get into this vicious cycle. As for food allergies, people start craving food they are allergic to in order to counter withdrawal symptoms. Hormonal imbalances, especially during menstruation or pregnancy make women crave simple carbohydrates in order to relax to help with uterine shedding. During these times, she would avoid certain contracting foods, which will increase her cravings. As for bacteria like yeast or Candida, well, sugar is their food. So the more you have them, the more you will attract these. The extent of sugar craving across the globe is evident. Americans consume the maximum amount of soft drinks per capita among all the countries in the world. This is alarming because studies have found sugar to be as addictive as any hardcore drug. In fact, sugar cravings have led to such high rates of obesity and diabetes among Americans that Berkeley, California became the first city in the U. S. to start taxing sugary drinks to control this problem back in 2014. Not much success has been achieved though.
How to get rid of sweet tooth?
So, sugar addiction is not easy. But take heart, because getting out of them is not that hard as well. All you need in the first few days is to be passionate about combating this evil, and here are a few ways how you can reduce your sugar cravings.
1. Avoid processed food
Processed food items have a LOT of sugar in them, and as harmless as they may seem to you while you buy that sumptuous looking packet, remember that intense sugar addiction can be as difficult as hard drugs like cocaine or heroin. A study conducted in 2013 by Connecticut College found that a cookie as popular as Oreos can affect the behavior and brains of lab rats as much as cocaine! No wonder that cocaine is called brown ‘sugar’. This happens because sugar artificially stimulates the nucleus accumbens, the region of the brain which produces dopamine. And dopamine is the neurotransmitter that produces feelings of pleasure in the organism, making us feel relaxed. However, the dangerous thing about this whole thing is that dopamine levels do not remain high for long, meaning that we soon go down the pits and start craving that high feeling again, making us go back to stuff which can do that. And such processed food items take their place among them.
2. Drink a lot of water
We often end up mistaking thirst for sugar cravings because both of them serve to energize our bodies. There is also the bad habit of gulping down drinks with a lot of sugar in them when we are thirsty. This is especially the problem during the summer months. So, to cut down on sugar cravings, always make it a point to carry some water with you. You can even try carrying chilled water. There are some good drinks to get rid of cravings. To 4 oz. of water, squeeze the juice of half a lemon and put 5 drops of Stevia. Your Body Ecology lemonade is ready. You can also try sweetening a warm cup of green tea with Stevia and have it with your meals. This would not only help you satisfy your sweet tooth, it would also prevent you from gorging on desserts with a high sugar and fat content.
3. Have natural sweeteners
Stevia is a completely natural sweetener with zero calories. It not only keeps blood sugar levels normal, it does so in spite of being 300 times sweeter than the sugar you are struggling with. This does not affect tooth health, meaning you can safely use this to satisfy your cravings. For baking, Lakanto is the best option as this too is a completely natural sweetener with absolutely zero calories, zero glycemic index, and contains no additives. This also means that you need to avoid food items like pasta, bread, and bagels if you want to be really serious about your natural sugars usage because these products act like sugars thanks to their high refinery and the huge carbohydrate content. Avoid artificial sweeteners like aspartame, saccharine and sucralose at all costs as they play with your tasting perception. You may also end up gaining weight because of them.
You may be surprised to know that stress makes your adrenals produce the hormone cortisol to help metabolize glucose in order to help your body fight it. In the process, not only is there an increase in the blood sugar level, but it also leads to intense sugar cravings. And meditation has great benefits. Sara Lazar, a neuroscientist at Harvard Medical School and Massachusetts General Hospital, discovered that meditation not only decreases stress but also changes the structure of the brain by increasing the gray matter in the auditory and sensory cortex. So, in order to use this ancient technique to fight stress, meditate for a short while before having your food so that your body is relaxed while eating. That would not only ensure less cortisol production but would also help with a better digestion. You can also practice meditation daily after waking up in order to change your approach to life and avoid stress.
5. Have fermented food and drinks
Having fermented food and drinks has got to be one of the best ways to not only reduce but even end sugar cravings. Many have gotten off sugar in time periods as little as 4-5 days. There are just so many ways you can have these food items if you are intimidated by the regular unappetizing fermented dishes you are used to. Use the Kefir Starter with the juice of young Thai coconuts available in most health food stores to have your own homemade young coconut kefir. There are also many ready-made probiotic liquids available over the counter to take care of sudden cravings. Just sip around 2 oz. of probiotic liquids like CocoBiotic or InnergyBiotic to get rid of the cravings. These may taste sour, but these are really healthy and really helpful and all you need is a real desire to get rid of your cravings.
6. Check your blood sugar
It is very important to maintain blood sugar levels because a high amount of sugar in the blood can cause diabetes very easily. And that leads to very serious problems, including damage to eyes and kidneys. A fall in blood sugar levels too is equally harmful. So, maintain a healthy lifestyle to keep your blood sugar in check and get a test done regularly. Consult your dietician to know what to eat when craving sweets and have small, balanced and healthy food throughout the day instead of having a large meal at once. Try to have the protein-rich diets as early into the day as possible. In the evening, try to have some light carbohydrate meals not containing gluten in them. Maintaining such a routine helps your body in maintain good serotonin levels which in turn will keep you happy and help you get a better sleep at night. You can even try fermented vegan protein food to help your blood sugar levels remain stable.
7. Try to be emotionally distracted
Believe it or not, but cravings often happen because we believe that we need to have them. In other words, they happen because we make them happen. So, it is very important that you remain distracted in order to break sugar addiction! Do not get into the loop and anticipate having a sugar craving. Try to be busy with your work as much as possible. Remove attractions from your surroundings. If they are too difficult to resist, try consulting a psychologist. Many fitness regimens and centers offer programs specially designed to keep your mind off sugar, like the Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT). You can try them if you find that your cravings are too hard to get rid of on your own. Cravings can also happen due to certain emotional triggers, like a certain memory or a certain person. Be careful to work your way through these.
8. Have a lot of proteins
Proteins are very important components of the diet and they go a long way in getting rid of sugar cravings as they make you full, energize your body and make you healthier. For this reason, fats too are a very good option, especially food items containing Omega 3 Fatty Acids. All you need once you have proteins is proper management. So, a protein-rich breakfast is the best option for you. You can try smoothies. Avoid the typical breakfast with a lot of carbs and sugar and starch, which too gets metabolized to sugar. Having a heavy, healthy breakfast also prevents people from having cravings throughout the day. You can also include an amount of protein decided upon by your dietician in each meal that you have.
9. Have a lot of fruits and vegetables
You can always have fruits in place of sweets. Most fruits come with fructose, which is metabolized very differently from glucose, the one that comes with sugar and does all the harm. However, you need to keep your fruit consumption in check as well as too much of it can increase your belly fat and in turn cause Type 2 diabetes. Also, be very careful about berries and cherries, which have some of the highest sugar content among fruits. Many people get addicted to them, and you would just end up making things more complicated.
Instead of energy drinks, which have even been known to fatally harm the brain, you can try green drinks. They can be made delicious with the correct recipe and help boost your energy levels.
Sea vegetables and seaweeds have been found to be really effective against sugar cravings. They have a high mineral content, meaning they would help against the mineral depletion brought about by sugar consumption (yes, sugar does that). In fact, those with low levels of mineral magnesium in their body have a particular craving for chocolate. They would also help in replenishing the decreased mineral content in your adrenals. You can always try out new recipes to make their consumption easier and tastier. Vegetables and shrubs with dark green leaves, legumes, nuts, and tofu are good options in taking care of mineral content in your body.
10. Follow a good health regimen
Following a healthy lifestyle helps in maintaining the right levels of serotonin, which is also known as the happiness hormone. And having plenty of serotonin also helps in reducing the sweet cravings. Avoid sugar at night.
Get a detox done. That would take care of many health problems like decreased appetite, sagging energy levels, and thus the increased need to have sugar. Initially, the cravings will be really unbearable, but once you get adjusted to the detox regimen, they will gradually start subsiding before fully disappearing.
Get regular exercise. You can also practice yoga or dance, or try taking long walks. These activities help in reducing the tension in the muscles and in turn the sugar cravings.
It is also very important to get enough sleep. Sleep is important for maintaining serotonin levels in the body. A good sleep would also prevent you from feeling tired all day and thus have sugar or glucose to get perks.
The list, with all, its tasty alternatives, is not as bad as you might have expected it to be, right? It is worth the effort because sugar is the most innocent looking item causing the most amount of damage. It is especially harmful to kids, who are not yet developed enough to deal with the consequences. So start by being strict with yourself and by really meaning it.