I am a sugar-head. While I’m not a big snacker, I’ve always had a sweet tooth, and sugar cravings can drive me crazy sometimes! I’ve done a little research and discovered that there are reasons for these cravings. In a woman’s earlier years, these cravings are more likely to manifest as premenstrual syndrome (PMS, with associated progesterone deficiency) and women often also experience severe irritability around their periods. In our mid-forties (where I happen to be), estrogen or progesterone deficiency often produces increased sugar cravings, fatigue, moodiness and insomnia around various times in the menstrual cycle. These hormonal changes can bring about cravings for the sweet stuff.
There are other reasons as well but, whatever the cause, sometimes we just need to say no. And this is true for men too! The following are nine tips for curbing sugar cravings:
1. Grab some fruit. When it comes to cravings, our bodies cannot tell the difference in sugars. Instead of going for the sweets with no nutritional value, reach for some fruit instead. Berries are a great choice because they are the sweetest of the fruits. Add some cool whip for a light dessert. Watermelon is another favorite of mine in the summer. Because of it’s water content, it quickly fills me up too!
2.Eat something minty. Like many other people, I crave sugar after a meal. Instead of going for a sweet dessert, try eating a small chocolate mint or even a sugar-free hard candy mint. Something about peppermint seems to satisfy the craving and puts an end to wanting more.
3. Make sure you are eating adequate protein. Low-fat diets or diets high in carbohydrates can leave you craving more carbs and often we go for the sugary kind. Protein can help to curb your appetite and keep you feeling fuller until your next meal. Keep healthy foods well-stocked in your kitchen and workplace and keep tempting foods that might inspire cravings out of reach.
4. Eat smaller meals more often. Eat whole grains, more veggies, and lower glycemic foods – these help the body process the sugar and allows a steady release of energy to our system. Regular meals will help your blood sugar remain steady – so eat even if you don’t feel hungry, train your body to want three meals and two snacks a day – this helps you not wait too long between eating and stops you from reaching for the junk food quick snacks! Don’t skip meals or snacks. Going more than four or five hours without eating something is likely to cause your blood sugar to drop, inevitably causing intense cravings.
5. Get moving. Let’s face it, sometimes we eat because we are bored. We might just need to do something different. Go for a quick walk or do “some stairs” (go up and down a flight of stairs for five minutes). Just getting your body moving can sometimes be enough to loose interest in a sweet snack.
6. Drink something. Grab a glass of water or even a glass of lemonade. Although there is sugar in lemonade, the sweet/sour mix can be enough to curb the sweet tooth and hydrate you at the same time. Besides, maybe we are simply thirsty…
7. Chew gum. When we eat, we chew. Perhaps we can trick ourselves and satisfy the craving by chewing gum instead of eating something. To tell you the truth, I really don’t chew gum very often. I guess I hear my grandmother telling me how unladylike she felt it was to chew gum. But this tip seems pretty logical to me.
8. Give it up…at least for a while. According to physical therapist, Alan Tyson, it takes the body between 48 and 72 hours to stop the sugar cravings. If you can get through that time, your body won’t be asking for it quite as strongly. Try avoiding sugar for two to three days and see if you have fewer cravings.
9.Go ahead and have some sugar. This is actually the opposite of #8. I tend to be someone who doesn’t do as well with extremes. Going extreme often makes me just want something more…I guess it’s the forbidden fruit thing. Maybe I’m just enough of a realist to believe that having a little of something will satisfy me and I won’t have to go to the extreme. If you feel a sugar craving coming on strong, choose quality over quantity. Go for something small but rich and very yummy. That way you are not depriving yourself totally, just watching your portions. Cut a small brownie and eat the whole thing…and SAVOR it! Part of our problem, I think, is that we have so many choices and the sizes are so big, that we tend to eat things without really appreciating the flavor. In other words, treat yourself, just don’t overdo it. For some people, this is simply a temptation, and it is better not to succumb at all.
Do you have any other tips for curbing sugar cravings?