OK I admit it; I used to be a sugar addict. Even when I first became a Registered Holistic Nutritionist, I would sneak treats when no one was looking. But honestly, can you blame me? I mean, all those happy chemicals that get released in the brain when you consume sugar keeps you hooked and temporarily happy and energized. Sugar causes the brain to release dopamine in the reward center of the brain, not unlike cocaine does. This neurotransmitter is known to heighten feelings of euphoria and keep you highly addicted to sugar and certain drugs.
So what is a person to do? It tastes good, makes you feel good, and keeps you energized and in love with life. Sound perfect right? Wrong! We all know sugar is bad for you. It robs your body of essential nutrients, plays havoc with blood sugar levels, and keeps your body chronically stressed.
Here are some of the tips I have used both on myself and my clients to successfully handle those dreaded sugar cravings.
Avoid processed foods: Many people just don’t realize how much sugar food manufactures sneak into their food products. Sugar is everywhere. It is in frozen dinners, low-fat food products, ketchups and other condiments, as well as canned soups. Not only that, but companies try to sneak sugar into your food under the disguise of other names!
Here is a list of other names that sugar goes by:
Brown rice syrup
Cane juice crystals
High fructose corn syrup
Corn syrup solids
Evaporated cane juice
Fruit juice concentrate
Grape juice concentrate
Take this list with you when you go to the grocery store and be vigilant about reading food labels.
Eat more greens: Eating dark leafy greens like kale and chard helps to keep your body nourished and provides a wide array of vitamins and minerals to keep you naturally energized. If your body feels properly nourished, it is less likely to crave a sweet sugary snack.
Stay hydrated: Sometimes when we think we are hungry, we are actually thirsty or dehydrated. Lack of hydration is a major cause of fatigue and low energy, which can cause us to reach for caffeine or a sugar laden treat.
Eat smaller meals throughout the day: Doing this will help to prevent dips and spikes in blood sugar levels.
Get enough rest: Lack of sleep not only causes as to reach for stimulants throughout the day, it also throws off the hormones responsible for controlling our hunger and cravings.
Some other things that I like to do when I feel a sugar craving coming on, is to check in with myself and see if there is an emotional cause to my craving. These can include feeling anxious at work, sad, or overwhelmed. Or, maybe I.am just bored or doing something that is out of line with my life purpose.
Brushing your teeth or waiting twenty minutes before reaching for that cupcake also works really well, as does going for a walk or doing anything physical.