The causes of sweet cravings can vary widely, but chief among them are hormonal imbalances of insulin and serotonin, eating disorders, adrenal fatigue, unhealthy dieting, and even premenstrual syndrome. Here are some basic steps effective for all the various causes of sugar cravings.
1. Improve your diet overall. Have small, frequent meals to help keep your blood sugar level stable and eliminate your body’s need for a quick sugar fix.
- Avoid skipping meals (especially breakfast).
2. Combat hypoglycemia, or low-blood sugar by trying the following:
- Eat a breakfast that is not sweet, for example brown rice, or lean protein and blanched vegetables.
- Have no sweets (that includes refined flour, fruit, and all sweeteners) until after 3:00 pm, because eating sweets in the morning or early afternoon tend to stimulate sweet cravings throughout the day. You might feel sick from eating sugars in the early morning.
- If you have the sugar blues in the morning around 10-10:30 and again in the afternoon around 2-4:00, drink 1 cup of sweet vegetable drink.
3. Increase your protein intake. Often our bodies will exhibit cravings for sweets when what they really need is more protein. This isn’t true for everyone, so if having an egg or a steak doesn’t improve your cravings, please consider the recommendations below.
4. Take a daily multivitamin. Some nutrients help keep blood sugar stable, so ensure you get those by supplementing your diet appropriately.
5. Read labels. You might be surprised to learn how much sugar there is in a lot of the foods that you eat. Being aware of sugar content can help you avoid high-sugar foods and kick the addiction.
6. Chew sugar-free gum. The next time you have a craving, reach for a stick of gum instead of that popsicle. Research shows that chewing gum can decrease cravings and consumption of sweets.
7. Skip the artificial sweeteners. Artificial sweeteners, like Saccharin or Aspartame, have not been demonstrated to curb cravings for actual sugar, and may present a higher risk of cancer.Unlike their claims, artificial sweeteners have not demonstrated effectiveness in limiting obesity among users.
8. Replace sweets and sugar with fruits. The sugars in fruits are digested differently than normal table sugar or sugar in candy and processed foods, mainly because table or processed sugar contains about 50% fructose, which is difficult for your liver to metabolize.
- Fruits contain fiber, vitamins, minerals, enzymes, and good phytonutrients, all of which help counteract the bad metabolic effects of fructose and glucose. The fiber in fruit also slows the absorption of the sugars so you don’t get as high of a sugar rush (and as low of a crash).
9. Eat frozen grapes or bananas. Put a bag of grapes or a banana in the freezer overnight and eat the next day when they have frozen. These fruits will satisfy your sweet cravings and are healthier than a candy bar.
10. Drink water. Sometimes thirst is mistaken for hunger. We confuse the body’s messages. Tune in to your body’s cues and get a big glass of water instead of starting on that bar of chocolate.
11. Use something bitter, hot or sour to overwhelm the sweetness. Try one of the following:
- 1-3 ozs of pure lemon in water.
- 1-3 ozs of cider vinegar in water (just drink it down, you will actually feel relief from the craving within minutes).
- A teaspoon of yellow mustard.
12. Go for quality, not quantity. Eat a small piece of 70% dark chocolate instead of a candy bar. Have a small scoop of gourmet ice cream instead of an entire bowl of light ice cream. The treat will be more satisfying and you’ll be consuming less sugar in the long run.
13. Get distracted. By drawing your attention to something else, you will soon forget about your cravings. Whether it’s watching a television show, dancing to your favorite song, reading a good book, playing the piano, or even just taking a nap, you’ll forget about that snack you want to munch on.
- Try to avoid sitting alone and thinking about your cravings.
14. Stop staring. Just watching advertisements for high-fat, high-calorie, or high-sugar foods stimulates parts of your brain responsible for controlling hunger. When commercials strike, head to the kitchen to glance lovingly at low-cal health foods, and your brain will return to normal.
15. Remove temptations. Go through your refrigerator and food pantry. Get rid of the cakes, ice cream, cookies, etc. When you go food shopping, make a conscious effort not to buy sweets.
- A good habit to get into is to take a walkinstead of eating dessert. If, after 10 minutes, you still want sweets, gargle with an antiseptic mouthwash or brush your teeth. The aftertaste doesn’t mix well with sweets and you’ll probably lose your craving quickly.
- For a more dramatic altering of the taste sense, try getting Gymnema Sylvestre leaves and chewing a pinch of them thoroughly. In the following hour or two, anything that is unsweetened will taste better than anything containing sugar.
16. Don’t set targets that you know you can’t achieve. Take the process slowly and you’ll see the results gradually – don’t expect a quick fix.
17. Go for a walk, distance yourself. This serves a two-fold purpose. First of all, you are distancing yourself from the food that you are craving. Second, the exercise will release endorphins, some “feel good” chemicals in your brain, which can help turn the craving off.
- If you are a runner, then running will be even better.
- If you can’t go outside, do a few exhausting sets of burpees, push ups, body weight squats or any other body weight exercise.
18. Brush your teeth. Brushing your teeth at the end of the meal can readily stop sugar cravings. The toothpaste leaves a fresh minty flavour in your mouth and this makes you less likely to reach for something sweet.
19. Take a hot shower. Let the water run over your back and shoulders and let it heat you up. Stay there at least 5-10 minutes.By the time you step out of the shower, you are likely to have a “dazed” feeling, like when you’ve been sitting in the sauna for a long time.
- The water must be hot… not so hot that you burn your skin but hot enough that it is on the verge of feeling uncomfortable.