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10 Ways to Curb Your Sugar Cravings

by Yes Health

Sure, sugar tastes good. And it can make us temporarily feel good too (from the endorphins  they trigger in our brain that calm and relax us). Because of these brain chemicals, simply white-knuckling your sugar cravings isn't likely to work, and other strategies are in order.

It probably comes as no surprise that eating sugar regularly isn't good for you. And many of us do it (morning lattes, afternoon chocolate pick-me-ups, cookies before bed, anyone?) without even realizing it. The average American consumes a whopping 22 teaspoons of added sugars every day (88 grams), according to the American Heart Association. 

Becoming more aware of how much sugar you’re eating is an important first step in kicking the habit. And here’s some good news: the simple act of eating less sugar helps to reduce cravings; the less we have, the less we want, and the more sensitive we become to it.

10 coach tips to tame even the most savage sweet tooth

Reducing sugar cravings isn’t a one-size-fits-all approach. Some people do best going cold turkey, while others fair better with a gradual decrease.

“I used to love mochas…and even worse, white chocolate mochas,” says Coach Agatha. “First, I switched to a regular mocha, then to an americano with two pumps of chocolate sauce, until I was down to regular coffee with two sugars and cream. Eventually, I was able to cut out sugar all together and I alternate between black coffee and black coffee with cream. Now when I try a sweetened coffee or latte, I can hardly believe I used to drink them regularly. But if you were to ask me to go straight from a white chocolate mocha to black coffee, I would have thought you were crazy.”

Regardless of your personality type, here are 10 ways to help ween you off the white stuff:

  1. Keep a sugar diary. Write down every time you eat sugar throughout the day. You might surprise yourself by how much added sugar is in your regular diet.
  2. Ask yourself what feelings you get from sugar. Comfort, satisfaction, a “high,” etc.? Then, discuss alternatives with your coach to try to break the emotional connection.
  3. Keep sweet treats “special.” Coach Agatha suggests limiting desserts to once a week or special occasions. Got a birthday party or event coming up? Plan ahead and enjoy!
  4. Catch your zzzs. Too little rest and too much stress can leave your body trying to make up for the lack of energy by seeking out carbohydrates.
  5. Create “treat rituals.” Herbal tea in a nice tea set with a couple squares of dark chocolate can feel extra luxurious. 
  6. Experiment with spices and natural flavorings. Instead of sugar, try a drop of pure vanilla flavoring in your coffee, cinnamon in your oatmeal and cardamom pods in your tea.
  7. Read food labels. Since consuming less sugar can reduce your cravings for the sweet stuff, consider hidden sources: ketchup, peanut butter and bread are just a few. Compare brands to find one with no, or less added sugar. Remember that one teaspoon contains a whopping four grams of sugar!
  8. Get plenty of healthy protein, good fats and fiber-rich veggies at every meal, to ward off sugar and carb cravings. Fat and protein are much more “slow-burning” than carbs. “If you’re eating high-carb meals and snacks, you’re likely to get a blood sugar spike and a dip that leaves you feeling hungry again and craving more carbs,” says Coach Rachel. “It’s a vicious cycle!”
  9. Enjoy your food. Play with mixing up texture, color and variety in a meal or snack, says Coach Miriam. Add nuts to yogurt for a satisfying crunch or mix up different fruit and veggies on a plate. And if you really want that piece of cake, be mindful of the experience to help you realize your satisfaction factor. (You might be surprised by how little of it you actually want to eat). Mindfulness can also help you tune in to what you really want, so you’re not reaching for more of a certain food out of a place of deprivation.
  10. Eat something sweet with a balanced meal. Pairing sugar with protein and fiber can help with blood sugar balance. You can also try adding a handful of nuts to a cookie or “icing” it with nut butter, so protein is present for fullness (making you want less of it) .

For related reading, check out:

8 Heathy Ways to Sate Your Sweet Tooth

Artificial Sweeteners: Too Good to be True?

Why Do We Eat When We’re Not Hungry?

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