04 Mar Tips to Reduce Sugar Cravings
Sugar cravings can be very hard to resist. As I dietitian I struggle with this at times and many of my clients do as well. Firstly, please don’t deprive yourself and don’t beat yourself up if you “give in” to a craving. Instead, focus on healthier alternatives. Treat yourself to what you really want – but only have a small amount. Remember: no food is “bad”. It’s the quantity and frequency that determines how food impacts your overall health. The key to dealing with your sugar cravings is to understand why you’re getting them in the first place.
Once you’re armed with that knowledge, you can have a plan in place to deal with cravings in a mindful manner. Here are 4 strategies that I use and recommend to keep your sugar cravings in check:
- Know Your Triggers – Do you get sugar cravings at certain times of the day? Afternoon, evenings, or maybe after meals? Are your cravings linked to how you are feeling? Tired, bored or stressed? Many times, our craving for sugar is an emotional response, not a physical response. Next time you have a craving, try and be aware of how you are feeling and observe what might be trigging your cravings.
2. Make your first meal count – Start with a solid breakfast. The less sugar you eat in the morning, the more balanced you will be all day. High-protein breakfasts have been shown to reduce cravings. Eggs, nut butters, avocado toast and smoked salmon, skyr or Greek yogurt are all great high protein options!
3. Don’t skip meals – Skipping meals can make your blood sugar levels drop. This drop in energy can leave you feeling very hungry and cranky. Don’t be hangry. Making healthy choices while hangry is difficult as your body is craving a quick energy boost. This is where a little meal prep the day before can prove super helpful.
4. Sweet dreams – The amount of sleep you get directly correlates with sugar cravings. Studies show that people who are sleep-deprived crave sugary foods. And you can blame it on your hormones. Lack of sleep causes hormone shifts, directly impacting how you feel:
- Ghrelin, the hunger-control hormone, increases, causing you to eat more.
- Leptin, the fullness hormone, decreases.
- Cortisol, the stress hormone, may increase, causing an increase in appetite.
To help keep your hormones balanced, aim for 7-9 hours of sleep every night.