I hear from people all the time that one of the hardest habits to break is their sugar cravings. We all know that sugar isn’t good for us and once you eat it, you crave more. And those of us with brain injuries know that sugar is an inflammatory food that is harmful to our brains. But why is it so hard to just stop??
The most important thing to keep in mind is that hunger and cravings are 2 very different things.
If you’re craving sugar there’s 2 reasons:
- It’s your brain craving the release of dopamine. Dopamine is one of the neurotransmitters in your brain responsible for your happiness. For most of us, eating cake or ice cream, makes us happy. It’s your brain’s need for a “reward”. Usually related to a habit, or stress or you associate sugar with “treats/rewards” growing up.
- You could have a vitamin or mineral deficiency.
So first let’s talk about the simple craving. This is when you’re hungry and then you say I’m really craving something sweet. Eat a healthy, filling meal with lots of protein. This will usually kick the craving because what you really need is energy.
It gets a little more tricky when you’ve been craving it and you’re not hungry at all. You just really want it.
Here’s are 8 tips to beat those sugar cravings:
- Are you taking a high quality multi-vitamin? Are you eating healthy at least 80% of the time. It’s very possible that you have a vitamin deficiency that’s causing the cravings so check into that first. Make sure you either eat some fermented food or are taking a quality probiotic too.
- Start your day with lean protein. If you start your day with all carbs, you will just keep craving sugar and carbs all day.
3. Avoid artificial sweeteners. Trying to substitute your sugar craving for something that’s actually not healthier, it’s just chemicals that will just make you crave more.
4. Substitute Fruit- berries, cantaloupe, and peanut butter
5. Stop cold turkey– this is the only thing that works for me. The first 48-72 hours can be tough, but once it’s out of your system, it’s not hard at all. So when I’m truly craving something. Give an example of your favorite sweet treat. I let myself have it, but then the next day when I’m craving sugar again, I know that it’s because it’s still in my system so the best thing I can do is get past that first day and then it gets easy.
5. Check in with why you’re craving it– so many people rely on food for emotional support if their stressed, anxious or upset and we all know that food doesn’t actually fix anything. It will just leave you feeling mad at yourself for binging on the entire gallon of ice cream so instead of reaching for the food, reach for support. Talk to someone that you know will be supportive or try reading a book. Something to actually help you with the stress.
6. Don’t keep it in the house because out of sight out of mind. Distract yourself, tell yourself that you’re not going to have it for 10 minutes, then go on a walk, take a bath or shower, read a book, dance. I don’t care what you do. But just keep distracting yourself.
7. If you’re TRULY craving something. You’ve been thinking about that piece of chocolate for 3 days and you’ve been so good, but you just can’t stop thinking about it. Eat the damn chocolate. Just go for quality over quantity. Instead of getting a huge bag of milk chocolate, go for the quality stuff that actually has less calories and a smaller amount but will still totally satisfy your craving.
8. SLEEP. If you don’t have a good night’s sleep you are much more likely to reach for the junk food. It took me a long time to put 2 and 2 together and realize that I crave crappy food when I’m tired. It’s my body’s way of telling me something is off, but I was just reading the signal wrong. So go for that lean protein that’s going to give you energy and actually make you feel better.
Let us know in the comments which one of these is your biggest takeaway and you’re going to put into action right now so that we can keep you accountable.
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