Sugar cravings affect everyone. And I am guilty of it too. I have tried to go all out and cut out processed sugar from my diet completely and I have been reasonably successful. The key to dealing with them is to start with understanding why you’re getting them in the first place. Once we are conscious and aware of the reasons, we can make the necessary changes to lessen them.
Top reasons why we have sugar cravings:
Not Having Enough Calories: I have made this mistake in the initial days when I wanted to lose weight. I would follow some random diet off the internet and then feel very weak and tired within a few days. I didnt know the science behind dieting or very specifically creating a calorie deficit. When we get the body in a calorie deficit mode, the body starts looking for fast fuel as a way to catch up. So what do we do? Crave sugar! As we know, sugar gives us quick energy, even though it’s not necessarily good energy.
So I figured the way to get around this is to choose something sweet with artificial sweetener in it. And bam! I was so wrong again! Artificial sweeteners might momentarily satisfy that sweet craving, but they trick our body into thinking it’s getting fuel when it’s not. Our body soon goes looking for more calories in the form of, you guessed it, sugar, and we are again back to where we started.
Solution: Calories are the only thing that provides real energy, so eating them consistently at regular intervals throughout the day in the form of wholesome food will break this cycle once and for all.
Eating Something Sweet Is A Habit: I have seen many families have this habit of having something sweet right after a meal. I know it was a ritual at my inlaws place. When I asked them why, they simply said, we have been doing this for years. I have also seen many of my friends go out for icecreams after dinner as a family thing. Another common habit in Indian households is to offer something sweet to God as a prasadam. While I don’t contest that, but I have realized the amount of sweets that get prepared at home during festivities is unbelievable! What we fail to realize is, all these are just adding to the calorie deficit that you have been trying to create.
When something becomes habit, especially when it comes to food, we have to ask ourselves, “Am I aware of what I’m doing?” “Do I really need to eat this?” “Is what I’m eating, nourishing my body?”
Solution: Simply being aware of your nutritional requirements, will help you choose the right food. If eating consistently throughtout the day, you wont even feel hungry. Replace the post meal sweet to a delicious herbal tea with a natural sweetner like cinnamon or vanilla flavour. Cutting down on the quantity could be another easy thing to do. Instead of 2 scoops of your favourite icecream, turn it down to one and instead of having it post dinner (very harmful) make it into a part of your cheat meal which could be one day in a week.
Not Having Enough Fat Or Protein: When your diet is loaded with carbs, you are setting yourself up for sugar craving. All the carbs such as rice, bread, pasta etc, are eventually going to get converted to glycogen or fast fuel and that doesn’t make you feel full. Those calories are absorbed fast and they do not keep you feeling full or satisfied for long time.
Solution: Add a good portion of protein and healthy fat into every meal that you have. Add a big bowl of veggies.
More Sodium Means More Sugar Craving: When we dine out or eat packaged, processed foods, the food has more sodium in it than we probably even realize. This usually remains true even when we are eating something clean at our favourite “healthy” restaurant. The bottom line – the saltier your food, the bigger your sweet craving.
Solution: The first step here is to be aware that this may happen to you. Then, the more you skip the chips or fries, the less you’ll want the donuts or cookies. When you eat more naturally salty foods like cheese or olives, your sweet cravings will lessen, and you’ll tend to go for naturally sweet snacks like herbal tea or fruit when that craving comes on.
See? Choosing clean foods leads to choosing more clean foods, no matter what the craving.
Some more easy ways to keep the cravings at bay:
- Hydrate yourself well. Keep sipping water throughout the day.
- Include plain greek yogurt in your diet. It helps with satiety.
- Do not buy/store cookies and biscuits at home.
- Restrict indulgences to once weekly or fortnightly.
- Be mindful and watchful of what goes into your mouth.