Trying to kick that pesky sweet tooth? Check out this guide for 10 simple strategies to manage your sugar intake and reduce cravings.
Let’s face it sugar makes us feel good. It tastes good, temporarily raises our energy, and stimulates dopamine in the brain. No wonder we crave it or even become addicted to it. The amount of sugar Americans consume annually is anywhere from 60 pounds per the American Heart Association to 150 lbs of added sugar per year According to Dr. Jacob Teitelbaum, MD author of Beat Sugar Addiction Now. Either way, you slice it that’s a lot of sugar. Too much sugar for your body to handle. Most of the added sugar in our diets comes from processed foods and drinks. One study suggests that American sugar consumption increased by 30% between the 1970s and 2010.
Table of contents
The good news is you don’t have to go cold turkey. Just reducing some of the added sugar can make a big difference in your health. Sugar hides in bottled drinks, protein bars, cereals, baked goods, bread, and even pasta sauce. So how to reduce sugar cravings? Here are eight suggestions.
1. Know Your Triggers
Consider what triggers you. Stress or a bad mood can often trigger a craving, sometimes we get a craving during that mid-afternoon slump and for others, the cravings come later at night. Does eating something sweet in the morning cause you to have cravings later in the day when your blood sugar crashes? If you recognize your triggers and are prepared ahead of time with some alternatives you can fight those cravings and reduce the amount of sugar you are consuming.
2. Drink Ice Water and Rub Your Ears
Rather than reaching for a sugary energy drink or specialty coffee drink try sipping ice water and rubbing the outside of your ears for ten to twenty seconds to turn on the sympathetic nervous system if you are feeling tired or stressed. Or get up and walk around or step outside for some fresh air.
3. Grab a High-Protein Snack
As an alternative to eating snacks high in sugar reach for something high in protein such as a hard-boiled egg or a hand full of nuts to maintain stable blood sugar levels. Stable blood sugar levels help maintain energy levels and reduce cravings throughout the day.
4. Look for Natural Sugar Alternatives
Swap out the sugar you add to coffee or tea for stevia or monk fruit extract. This is an easy swap and one that can easily reduce your sugar intake by a few teaspoons per day. There are even natural substitutes you can bake with to further reduce your sugar intake.
5. Change Your Microbiome
Consider adding a probiotic to your daily routine. Excess sugar cravings can be exacerbated by a microbiome that is out of balance. By adding and replacing some of the good bacteria you will change the balance of gut flora which can help reduce cravings over time.
6. Choose High-Fiber Snacks
Fiber expands when it is introduced to liquid in your digestive system. When you feel full this can help reduce sugar cravings, you are less likely to grab a high-sugar quick fix. Snacks such as dried edamame, or dehydrated pea pods are a low sugar option.
7. Grab a Whole Fruit
If the craving becomes overwhelming grab a whole piece of fruit. The fiber from the fruit plus the natural sweetness is a great way to calm the sugar craving while still giving your body a bit of natural sugar. Whole fruits contain antioxidants that will also help counteract fructose (the main sugar found in fruit) and fat-storing ability.
8. Access Your Stress/Anxiety Level
Before grabbing your favorite sweet treat do a quick mood check. If you are feeling stressed or anxious you will be less likely to resist your sugar cravings. Sugar is a quick pick-me-up and makes your brain feel good at the moment, which is why some of us crave sugar when we are stressed. If you are a person who is susceptible to this have a plan for how you will deal with this ahead of time. Try smelling peppermint oil if you are overwhelmed by a mood-induced craving. Research shows smelling this oil can help activate the satiety center in the brain.
9. Eat a Balanced Diet
Eating a balanced diet can help manage cravings and help reduce sugar intake. Focus on eating whole, nutrient-dense foods such as fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, whole grains, and healthy fats. Look for sources of protein, like nuts and beans, that contain fiber to make you feel fuller longer and help prevent those late-night cravings. It’s also important to stay hydrated with water throughout the day.
10. Get Enough Sleep Each Night
One of the most critical strategies for reducing sugar cravings is getting enough sleep. Not getting enough rest can increase hunger, ramp up the desire for sweet snacks and lead to feelings of irritability and fatigue. Aim to get seven to nine hours each night and find ways to wind down before bed such as taking a hot shower, listening to soothing music or drinking a cup of chamomile tea.
This post is not intended to substitute for medical advice or prescribed medication. Especially if you have special health needs or a special diet, consult a physician before undertaking any new diet or exercise plan.
The author has not been compensated for any of the products mentioned in this post. In some cases, we may earn a small affiliate fee from certain links, including Amazon and the Health Food Radar shop. This helps compensate our staff for their time. Thanks for supporting us by clicking on the links!
Statements made on this website have not been evaluated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Any information or products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. Information provided by this website or this company is not substitute for individual medical advice.