“And you have quite a sweet tooth, don’t you,” my hairdresser commented as we chatted about the recipes on my old recipe website.
“Oh!” I laughed, surprised that she knew about it. “I suppose I do. But nothing like I used to.”
Suddenly I had a blinding flashback of the depths of my sugar addiction.
I was 23 years old and had begged my then-boyfriend to stop into a shop on the way home so I could buy a chocolate bar. Inside, I quickly grabbed three bars and made for the register.
“What?!” he exclaimed as he attempted to grab them from my hands. “ONE, not three. Put them back.”
“NO!” I hissed as I clung to them for dear life.
Seeing the look on my face (and no doubt wanting to avoid a scene), he let go. Filled with shame, I fought back tears as we made our way through the checkout. I felt completely out of control.
Sugar has been shown to increase the risk of diabetes, cancer and heart disease. It’s a leading factor in excessive weight gain, inflammation, and unhealthy skin conditions.
And as for mood swings, podgy middle sections, bloating, and 3pm energy slumps? Yup, our sweet little friend strikes again.
If your inner 3-year-old is throwing a tantrum and screaming ‘But it tastes sooooo goooood!’, you’re not alone. Humans are genetically programmed to enjoy sweet foods and the white stuff is highly addictive. The key to controlling cravings is moderation and balance, and for that we’re gonna need a Game Plan…
1. Reduce Caffeine
If you read my old Mindless Snacking post, you know I enjoy a cup every now and then too, but the ups and downs of caffeine include dehydration and blood sugar swings, which can cause sugar cravings to become more frequent. Just another reason to limit your cup of Joe to one (or less) per day.
2. Drink More Water
Soft drinks, soda, energy drinks and packaged fruit drinks are typically loaded with sugar. Plus, sometimes sweet cravings are just a sign of dehydration. Before you reach for the sugar, drink a glass of water and wait a few minutes to see what happens. You might find it passes right on by.
3. Eat Sweet Vegetables
Pumpkin, corn, beetroot, carrots and sweet potato are naturally sweet, healthy, and delicious. Packed with vitamins, minerals and fibre, they’ll keep you satisfied for longer and will help curb your cravings for added sugar.
Experiment with herbs and spices too. Coriander, mint, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, and cardamom will naturally sweeten your foods and help reduce cravings.
4. Choose the Most Natural Form
Let’s get real. It’s unlikely that you’re going to avoid desserts forever. So if and when you do treat yourself, avoid chemical, artificial sweeteners and foods with added sugar. Instead experiment with natural sweeteners like dates, organic maple syrup and coconut sugar.
5. Ditch the Fat-Free / Low-Fat Labels
These foods compensate for the lack of flavour from fat with high quantities of sugar, which will send you on a rollercoaster ride of sugar highs and lows. Foods high in natural fat (like coconut, avocado, nuts and seeds) actually kill sugar cravings, while balancing hormones and feeding the brain and skin. Forget the marketing hype and get friendly with the good stuff.
6. Reduce Your Consumption
The less sugar you eat, the less you’ll crave. Eventually your tastebuds will change and desserts you used to enjoy will taste too sweet. Hurray! Focus on getting your sweet fix from whole fruit instead.
7. Move Your Body, Lady!
Even if it’s just simple activities like walking or yoga. Start with 10 minutes a day and gradually increase. Being active helps balance blood sugar levels, boosts energy, clears the mind and reduces tension, which will help eliminate the need to self-medicate with sugar.
8. Catch Some zzzzz‘s
Embrace more sleep, rest and relaxation. Simple carbohydrates, such as sugar, are the most readily usable forms of energy for an exhausted body and mind. If you’re in a chronic state of stress and/or sleep deprivation, your body will crave the quickest form of energy there is – sugar. Ensuring you get enough rest will save you from this toxic, never-ending cycle.
9. Tap It Out
Emotional Freedom Technique (also known as EFT or Tapping) can be a huge help in reducing sugar cravings. Check out this demo video from Gabby Bernstein and engage in some self-soothing.
10. Find Sweetness in Non-Food Ways
Cravings – especially for sweets – often have a psychological component. If you find yourself craving or eating too many sweet things, ask yourself if your cravings are the symptom of something deeper? Are you really craving more fun, adventure, affection, or freedom in your life?
Bust out your journal, take a deep breath, and really explore the topic. What feels out of balance for you right now? What small steps could you take to address this? How could you better deal with emotions you might be trying to comfort with sweets?
When life becomes sweet enough itself, sugar can’t add anything we don’t already have. ♥
Ready to go deeper?