Curb your sugar cravings with these simple tips
By Tracy Dye
It’s easy to eat too much sugar. Sugar is present in nearly everything we eat, with a giant helping of added sugars making their way into everything from soups to sauces. While a moderate amount of sugar is necessary in a healthy diet, the consequences of consuming too much aren’t so sweet. A diet that contains an excess amount of sugar can lead to complications such as heart disease, type 2 diabetes and obesity. Luckily, there are ways that you can curb sugar cravings and work toward a healthier, happier lifestyle.
Drink a glass of water before bedtime
Why do cookies, cakes and other treats seem particularly alluring late at night? When plagued by a desire for a midnight sugar fix, have a glass of water. A study at the University of Washington found that drinking eight fluid ounces of water curbed nighttime cravings.
In general, it’s a good idea to stay hydrated throughout the day in order to benefit your overall health. Hydration staves off fatigue and influences proper functioning of every organ system.
Swap soda for seltzer
If sweet sodas happen to be your vice, consider trading those out for seltzer water, club soda or sparkling water. These fizzy mineral waters offer the same bite as a regular soda without the sugar and calories. Best of all, club soda keeps you hydrated the same way still water does.
Just be sure to read the nutrition label, as some seltzers have added flavors or sodium that offset the benefits. If you want to add some natural flavor, squeeze a slice of lemon or lime into your glass.
Eat a breakfast that is high in protein
Bacon, sausage and egg lovers rejoice! A study published in Nutrition Journal found that increasing your protein intake at breakfast can nix cravings for a midday (or evening, or midnight) sugar fix.
The study involved 20 late-adolescent girls and divided the participants into three groups. One group ate a typical breakfast which included 15 percent protein, one group ate a high-protein breakfast which included 40 percent protein and the last group practiced “breakfast skipping” behaviors.
Those who ate a high-protein breakfast experienced greater satiety and a sustained decline in sugar cravings. Participants who ate a typical breakfast experienced a decrease in food cravings only at first, while those who skipped breakfast exhibited an increase in food cravings.
It was also found that the participants who ate a high-protein breakfast experienced an increase in the neurotransmitter dopamine, which signals feelings of pleasure and reward in the brain. Arguably, the release of this feel good chemical helped reduce the craving for a post-breakfast snack.
Eat foods that are high in fiber
While processed sweets and treats can hit the spot initially, sugar rushes are always short-lived.
A diet that is rich in fiber offers numerous health benefits, including weight loss. According to the Mayo Clinic, high-fiber foods help blood sugar levels stay regulated while also offering greater, long-lasting satiety.
Fiber can be found in a variety of nutrient-dense foods, including:
- Whole wheat bread
Regular exercise can make you happy in many ways, one being the aforementioned release of dopamine. Sugar also causes a release of dopamine, but obviously without the beneficial side effects that come with physical fitness.
The pleasurable — albeit, short-lived — effects of sugar can lead to behaviors resembling addiction, with sugar lovers developing a tolerance to sweets and constantly chasing that next “sugar high” at the expense of their health. Developing a fitness routine can help you reap the benefits of a calorie-free reward.
Mind body exercises like yoga can also curb sugar cravings by helping participants to become more aware and comfortable within their bodies. By developing a better relationship with your mind, body and spirit, you can also develop a healthy relationship with food.