Are you struggling to stop eating sugar? Do you tell yourself you aren’t going to eat any today but find yourself caving by mid-afternoon or late at night? Do you wonder why? Cravings can be our bodies’ ways of telling us something. It can be a nutritional deficiency or maybe just a wakeup call that we need to eat differently.
When I moved to Los Angeles 5 years ago I decided to become a vegetarian. It seemed so easy because of all the healthy options when eating out. I really enjoyed it up until about a year ago when I started feeling tired all the time and craving sugar. (I have always craved sugar when I was tired but I wasn’t tired all the time) And maybe I wasn’t great about making sure I had enough protein but it became difficult to manage while traveling so much. So I decided to start adding in pasture raised, organic eggs. I felt better and had more energy. Then I decided I didn’t want bread anymore so I cut it out (bread can have a ton of sugar in it.) And I added organic pasture raised chicken and healthy fats like avocados, olive and coconut oil. Once I did this I was so surprised at how good I felt – and my sugar cravings subsided.
Another reason we crave sugar is from eating the artificial stuff. Sucralose, aspartame and saccharin can all trigger cravings for more. Fake Sweeteners Make You Crave More Sweets | Mother Jones. These fake sugars are hidden in ketchup, yogurt, even toothpaste.
So, what is the best way to deal with a sugar craving? And what are good healthy substitutes for sugar or artificial sweeteners? I asked for recommendations from my fellow health coaches and they have some great suggestions – including a few that really surprised me. Peppermint oil and a tongue scraper?
Carol Coyne (To The Point Health) likes to do a mini-detox of 1-3 days after the holidays or a special event where she’s overindulged. Her detox consists of homemade juice, smoothies, soup and tea to get through the day accompanied by lots of water. When she does have a sugar craving, the first thing she does is to have a glass of water to make sure she’s sufficiently hydrated. In many cases, people eat and succumb to their cravings when really they are just dehydrated.
Kim Ochwat (@klohealthyliving) tries to find a better treat alternative such as a good quality dark chocolate bar which uses a better type of sugar such as honey, dates, maple syrup or coconut sugar. She likes to use peppermint essential oil to help curb cravings and she adds good quality fats (such as avocado and coconut) to her diet.
Jill Anenberg Lawrence (Jill Lawrence Health) loves dessert and her favorite kind is “any.” She likes to bake her own adding superfoods and sugar alternatives for a healthy makeover. Jill uses a tongue scraper to remove debris, food particles and bacteria. If you haven’t removed all the food particles from the night before, you’ll wake up wanting that cake you had last night because it’s still sitting on your tongue. If you brush, floss, and scrape before bed you won’t want to go through that whole routine again just to have one cookie. Jill also doesn’t go anywhere without snacks. You can be stuck in traffic and have your blood sugar drop becoming so hungry you’ll eat anything. If you have a healthy bar, bag of nuts, kale chips or piece of high fiber fruit (such as an apple or a pear) on hand, you’ll be ready when your cravings hit.
Jennifer Halverson (Jennifer Halverson) quit sugar a few years back. She started really paying attention to everything she eats that contains sugar either added by her or someone else. Restaurants and pre-packaged foods like salad dressing, bread, salsa and pasta sauce often contain sugar or some form of it. She stopped using honey in her tea and used only dates in her smoothies. Magically, her palate adjusted and she now rarely adds dates and doesn’t crave dessert every night after dinner. She does still enjoy some dark chocolate, and if she’s feeling really indulgent she’ll have a vegan cupcake. But she knows these are treats and says it’s ridiculous and unnecessary for sugar to be in our regular everyday savory foods.
All of these girls advocate making your own sweet treats, and they all use healthy sugar alternatives such as dates, coconut sugar, raw honey and grade b maple syrup. They all check labels for added and artificial sweeteners, and they all prep their meals and snacks ahead of time. Be sure to check out their websites and Instagram accounts for some awesome healthy dessert recipes!
What are my tips? When a craving hits, I try to find out what the cause is. Am I tired? Am I stressed or anxious? Knowing the cause can really help to find the best way to solve it. I might try a walk, a yoga class, meditation or even a cup of tea. One of my favorite teas is Good Earth Sweet and Spicy. This can be a great substitute for dessert. Something sour or fermented such as kombucha can help too.
In summary, a short detox or cleanse can work really well to help reset your cravings (- if you are interested in trying a cleanse I can help you get started.) Drink lots of water and read labels. Make sure you prepare ahead of time by making your own desserts and keeping healthy options close by for when cravings do hit. I know this can be hard, but try to incorporate one or two of the suggestions above. What have you done that works for your sugar cravings? What are you willing to try? Comment below and let me know!