Why you crave sugar?
No need to over complicate it, for the most part, sugar cravings are biological, we are designed to seek out sugar. Before the advent of processed foods, sugar only came in the forms of fruit and vegetables. Going out for a walk and finding a fruit tree was a true treat, and we would sit and devour as much as we could! Particularly in preparation for winter.
Now – sugar is everywhere. It’s in your cereals, breads, cakes, lollies, sauces, yogurts, chocolate, pre-made meals, canned goods and pretty much everything else in packets. You get a little and your brain just wants more and more!!!
When you are tired – your brain says, instant energy please “give me sugar”. When you are hungry you brain says, instant energy please “give me sugar” and when you are upset your brain says, I need some good feelings please “give me sugar”.
We understand that it’s hard to fight those biological urges! So, we have 3 Top Tips to help reduce and control those cravings.
Top Tip 1
If you eat sugar, you crave more sugar. It’s biological, meaning it’s controlled by you hormones. Since you can’t tell you hormones to stop doing their job – you can only stop giving them the job to do! This means, by eating less sugar – you will crave less sugar.
To have less sugar craving throughout your day, your main meals need to have a source of protein, good fats and unprocessed carbohydrates.
What does that look like on a plate?
It comes down to eat real, unprocessed foods that don’t come in a packet. Plus making sure you have those food fats on there to keep you feeling full and satisfied. A plate of pasta however will give most people a blood sugar rise and then sudden drop, resulting in cravings and hunger pangs.
A meal that will reduce sugar cravings will have on it a source of:
- Protein – meat, eggs, fish, tofu etc
- Carbs – colourful vegetables
- Fat – olive oil, butter or other animal fats
Balance your meals, and your blood sugar levels will remain stable and you will reduce your hunger.
If you are looking for a ‘label’ to search out the perfect craving free diet – try Paleo, Low carb, LCHF or Keto.
Summary: By reducing the processed sugar laden foods you eat you will naturally reduce sugar cravings. If you are still struggling after cutting out processed foods – increase the amount of natural healthy fats you eat! Investigate a Paleo meal plan such as 10 Week Challenge.
Top Tip 2
Ask yourself, “ARE YOU HUNGRY?”
You have all heard of emotional eating, we all do it. So how do we stop it?
Imagine the following scenario:
You are at work and have been focusing on a project that is due tomorrow. It’s been 2 hours of intense concentration and it’s time for a break. It’s not lunch time though. You get up and head to the kitchen, open the cupboard and grab some biscuits.
Ask yourself, “AM I HUNGRY?”
Pick a path……
1) Yes, I am hungry. Okay, have a piece of fruit or a handful of nuts instead.
2) No, I’m not hungry. Okay, what do I really need then?
Working out what you really need in that moment is key!
Here are some possible needs:
Need: A break from work to clear your head
Solution: Go for a 10 min walk outside or put on your headphones and listen to some music.
Need: To escape from work stress and your busy
Solution: Focus on a belly breathing activity or do 5 minutes of mindfulness.
Need: I’m bored
Solution: Do something else immediately that you find interesting.
After a few weeks of doing this, you will find that you have created a new habit. Instead of going to the kitchen when you need a break – you will likely be doing what you really need in the moment.
Summary: When you are standing at the cupboard about to pick something to eat, ask yourself, “I am hungry”. If you aren’t hungry, “What do you really need?”
Note, if you are constantly hungry, then you need to go back to Tip One above and make sure you are eating enough at your main meal times to keep you full and satisfied.
Top Tip 3
I want chocolate! I want bread! I want gummy bears! I want coffee!
The sugar cravings have hit and hit bad….. what can I do?
TAKE SOME TIME OUT
Take 2 minutes….. just 2. Set a timer and do something meaningful. Get your journal out and start writing. Read a book. Call a friend for a quick hi. Go check the letterbox. After your 2 minutes is finished check in with yourself and see if you still need anything?
Remember how good it is to listen to your favourite song!?
Hopefully the craving is gone and you can return to your day. However, if you feel that the craving is still there, meet the need by having a healthy option eg, fruit, coconut yogurt or some a Keto treat, depending on what your eating style is. Then as always, return to Top Tip 1 and 2 for additional ways to reduce those cravings.
Summary: Taking 2 minutes out and distracting yourself from the craving should make it go away. If you still find that craving hanging around like a bad smell, have some healthy choices on hand that you can eat without guilt.
Reducing cravings is a personal commitment and process. By incorporating all 3 Top Tips, you can take control of your cravings and emotional eating.
The most important question to ask is always, ‘Am I hungry?”
Author: Sara Evans, 10 Week Challenge Nutritionist, [email protected]