As a former sugar addict, I know how hard it is to control sugar cravings. Give me a cookie or a piece of bread and I’d spin out of control! I am a slave to sugar no longer. I am the boss of me!
Today, over 1/3 of the calories we consume come from sugar or from flour, which is highly refined and acts just like sugar in our bodies. Sugar gives you a high, then you crash, then you crave more. It’s an endless cycle that wreaks havoc on your body and your mood. Sugar has been proven in recent years to be as additive as cocaine. Not only is sugar addictive, it contributes to many chronic problems such as autoimmune disease, heart disease, diabetes, severe joint pain, IBS, ADD and chronic fatigue. Recent studies have shown that sugar feeds cancer cells. So, why are we allowing ourselves to become addicted to this stuff?
Ideally, according to doctors, we should eliminate all sugar and refined white flour from our diets immediately! Unfortunately, breaking an addiction is a difficult task. Many times, we are bombarded with sweets. We turn to sweets to celebrate, or during times of sadness. Sometimes, it’s too hard to say no! When you are first learning to break your sugar addiction, sometimes it’s easier to learn to control your consumption, rather than use the cold-turkey method. When you feel deprived, in the end, you binge. You become trapped in a frustrating cycle. But isn’t sugar horrible for you? Yes. However, our bodies, for most of us, are able to accept and process a small amount of sugar. If you plan accordingly, you can cut your sugar drastically, and still have room for a few bites of the occasional sweet treat.
Here are some tips to help you cope with sugar cravings…..
*Eat Regularly. I aim for three small meals and two snacks daily! You should never allow yourself to feel too hungry, or your blood sugar will drop drastically. If that happens, you will begin to crave sugar because your body knows that the sugar will give you a quick lift. Don’t fall victim to your hunger! Always carry a healthy snack in your purse. It could be a tasty protein bar (look for one with no sugar) or my favorite, nuts. If you get hungry before your snack or meal time, eat a little something. Listen to your body.
* Eat Protein. When you eat a snack or meal, try to include a little protein with each meal. You would be surprised how many foods contain protein, without necessarily being meat. Google it!
*Add spices. Most of us think that healthy foods are bland. It’s not true! Try adding spices. Cinnamon, dill, cilantro, rosemary are just a few spices that I use often. Beware of seasoning mixes! Sometimes, those include lots of sugar and preservatives. Natural is better.
* Substitute Sugar. This is controversial. As of now, Stevia is the only doctor approved sweetener. Although it is still early, so far, it hasn’t shown to have negative side affects. After all, Stevia is a plant based sweetener. Some complain that it’s tastes a little different than sugar. I, personally, didn’t notice a difference. Even if you don’t find that it tastes exactly the same as sugar, give it time. After about a week, your taste buds will adjust. Stevia is awesome because it doesn’t trigger sugar cravings and it doesn’t cause your blood sugar to spike.
* Read labels! Watch out for hidden sugar . Sugar can have a variety of different names. I was shocked to find that almost EVERYTHING contains sugar. Watch out for flour, too. Because, remember, flour is really the same as sugar. Trust me, once you know what to look for, shopping will become easier!
* Treat yourself (in moderation!) It’s hard living completely without sugar. You don’t want to feel as if you are missing out on life! That’s why I believe that it is important to occasionally treat yourself with something you love. Remember, this isn’t a temporary diet. It’s a lifestyle change. Your body is able to accept about 30 grams of processed sugar a day. Diabetics, however, may have entirely different needs. I usually stick to two fruits a day, plus no more than 30 grams of refined sugar (about 150 calories of refined sugar). Having said that, save your sugar for a few bites of your favorite treat. Eat your treat slowly and savor every bite. Don’t waste it on the added sugar found in other things. You don’t want to waste the grams on hot sauce, when you could have had a sugar free hot sauce! Read those labels religiously, so that you an save your sugar! Also, because of the way your body metabolizes sugar, it is better to eat it with protein. You could eat your treat after a meal, or you could have a few nuts with your treat, if you are eating it as a snack. By eating a protein with sweets, you avoid the sugar crash. Never eat sugar by itself!
*Drink! Most of us don’t drink enough. But, you must cut out the chemical-laden soft drinks! Ditching soft drinks isn’t as difficult as you think. The problem for me? I just don’t love water. My “go-to” is green tea (it tastes just the same as black tea) with stevia. It gives you the same caffeine kick as soft drinks and is actually a beneficial antioxidant. I also make stevia-sweetened lemon water. Lemon has excellent detox qualities! There are lots of ideas for fruit infused water on the internet as well. Have fun with your water!
Above all, don’t get discouraged. You can’t eat whatever you like, when you’d like. That’s a fact you have to accept if you want to feel good and be healthy. You are making a lifestyle change. Any change you make now, will lead to a healthier you in a few months. Any effort is better than making no effort! Remember that it does get easier! As you eat in a more healthy way, your body will begine to crave the healthy foods. Eventually, your sugar cravings will lessen. You might even find that the sweet foods you used to crave are entirely too rich for your more refined taste buds. Rather than focusing on the things that you can’t have, focus on the opportunity to find new healthy alternatives! In return your body will show it’s love!
Disclaimer: Although my goal is to become a certified health coach within the next year, I have no certificate or degree in anything besides teaching art. I only share the things that have worked for me because I want to help others. If you decide to take health advice from an art teacher, please do so at your own risk. I encourage you to do your own research. Knowledge is power!