10 Steps to Break Up With Your Not-So Best Friend, Sugar!
Posted by Kara Stout on August 16, 2012 at 1:32 PM
Now that you are on your way to becoming a sugar detective and understanding the dangers of too much added sugar after reading 10 reasons why sugar is NOT your best friend: Part 1, I wanted to provide you with 10 steps on how to decrease your sugar cravings and help satisfy your sweet tooth in a much more natural and healthier way! Once you have become aware of the dangers, it doesn’t mean your cravings for a cookie or cupcake will just go away.
It is helpful to think of a sugar craving as an important message from your body, communicating to you what it actually needs. When you have a craving, evaluate what really could be going on and consider the causes which could include: dehydration, low energy, stress, emotional eating, unbalanced diet, exercising too much or too little, or our crazy hormones.
When you have a sugar craving, and you are about to reach for that piece of candy, don’t beat yourself up, don’t tell yourself you have no willpower; stop and try these 10 steps to conquer those cravings…
1. Have a glass of water -Sometimes we crave sweets because we are dehydrated. Many people are chronically dehydrated (migraines, headaches, improper digestion, and bad breath can be additional signs of dehydration). So, before you eat that cookie, drink a glass of water and wait for about 10 minutes.
2. Eat sweet vegetables and fruits –Eat an apple, some berries, carrots or another favorite sweet veggie or fruit. People often notice that their sugar craving is gone after choosing these sweet healthier options. Plus, you will get lots of antioxidants, vitamins, fiber, phytonutrients, etc. when you eat these sweet treats.
3. Eat a healthy diet in general –Eating a healthy diet, especially incorporating green leafy veggies full of nutrition, can provide you lots of energy. As I mentioned above, sometimes we reach for a sugary snack because we feel like we have no energy. Also, some studies suggest that people crave sugar because of an imbalance in serotonin. Nutritious carbohydrates, such as veggies, whole grains and fruit can satisfy serotonin needs.
4. Evaluate the amount of animal protein you consume –We have unique, individual needs when it comes to protein. Some people may require more protein than others while some require and/or prefer different sources of protein (animal vs plant). Sometimes eating too much animal protein can cause sugar cravings, but so can eating too little. It’s important to find the right balance for you. I encourage you to experiment with either reducing or increasing your protein intake and see how you feel, how your body feels, and notice any changes with your sugar cravings and the effect on your energy level as well. Also, experiment with different types of protein, animal and plant, and notice the effect. *Important side note: For those of you who consume animal foods, I encourage you to choose high-quality, organic, grass-fed options.
5. Steer clear of packaged fat-free or low-fat snack foods – In order to compensate for the lack of flavor and fat in these foods, large amounts of sugar have been added. Eating these will trigger a cycle of wanting more sugar and, therefore, lead to sugar cravings.
6. Add in those sweet spices -Adding in cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, coriander or cardamom will add sweetness to your foods and drinks naturally and help with those cravings. Spices are also loaded with vitamins and minerals.
7. Use natural sweeteners –Natural sweeteners are gentler and kinder to our blood sugar compared to refined white sugar. Raw honey and maple syrup can be good options and contain vitamins, minerals, and enzymes. You want to be sure and buy 100% pure maple syrup and not the fake maple syrup that is actually corn syrup. Stevia is another option and is available in a powder or liquid form. However, make sure to buy the green or brown liquids/powders since the white and clear types are highly refined. Dates can also be an option and are good for baking. Even though these are better options than white sugar, you still want to consume them in moderation.
8. Get moving –If you don’t already include physical activity, add some in each day. You can begin with walking, Pilates or yoga, and you can start with at least 10 minutes a day and build up. The key is to find activity you love and actually enjoy doing! For me, Zumba is my favorite workout, and I have so much fun dancing it up for my exercise. Physical activity offers so many benefits, including helping to balance your blood sugar levels, increasing your energy, and decreasing stress, all of which can help in diminishing your sugar cravings.
9. Get plenty of beauty sleep – When we feel sleepy and tired, we crave energy. We then crave sugar to help boost our energy, which may temporarily help; however, will only make it worse for us after the sugar crash.
10. Create a non-food nourishment menu! – Sometimes we may turn to food for comfort, but other non-food sources can be much more rewarding and healthier. We really may just need a hug, time with family and friends, a long walk outside, a massage, even a mani/pedi! I encourage my clients to create a “non-food nourishment menu” as their go-to source for non-food sweetness in their lives. Some items on the menu could be: call a friend, go for a walk, pray, read a good book, journal, or listen to your favorite music. So, when you have a sugar craving, consider that what you might really want has nothing to do with sugar. Additionally, when we are nourished by our relationships, a job we love, and/or our spirituality, the need for sweets will diminish. These are areas in our lives that truly nourish us.
As I stated in Part 1, remember to take it one step at a time, and be patient with yourself and proud of any accomplishments in decreasing your sugar cravings and sugar consumption.
Again, some people may experience headaches within the first 7 days of decreasing/cutting out sugar, but this is a sign your body is detoxifying and adjusting to your healthier you.
If you have any questions, please post them here, or if you would like more help with understanding and decreasing your sugar cravings, contact me!
Integrative Nutrition by Joshua Rosenthal
Get the Sugar Out: 501 Simple Ways to Cut the Sugar Out of Any Diet by Ann Louise Gittleman
*About the Author: With a background in psychology and counseling, Kara Stout is a board certified health coach and founder of KISS Health & Wellness. KISS stands for Keeping In Sexy Shape, and she helps to empower women to be their healthy, sexy self! Kara not only discusses nutrition with her clients, they talk about many areas of life that affect our health - relationships, career, physical activity, spirituality, etc. She is also a licensed professional counselor and provides therapy as well. You can connect more with Kara here: