7 Ways to Reduce Sugar Cravings
According to the American Heart Association, the average American adult currently consumes 22 teaspoons of sugar per day. Can you imagine putting 22 teaspoons of sugar in your coffee!? There wouldn’t be any room for coffee! And even less for the emotional boost most people look for in their morning cup, which would get taken over by the horrible affects of sugar overload.
The problem is, we don’t just find sugar in the packets at the Starbucks drink station —it’s hiding everywhere: healthy-looking fruit juices, “energizing” sports beverages, and all kinds of condiments.
I have a love hate relationship with sugar. Many times, I find eating sweets is more of a habit than a real need, and that a little is never enough to keep me satisfied. It makes sense, given that sugar acts on the same neural pathways in the brain as drugs and alcohol—once the body gets a little bit, it asks for more, and the demand grows almost exponentially. In order to get the same boost we once got out of just one treat, we need to consume more and more in the future.
This is why it’s so difficult for most people to regulate their sugar intake, and why sugar addiction can easily become a real risk.
I’ve found that moderation with sugar doesn’t work very well for me. Eating a little bit has often snowballed into eating too much, and I’ve generally found it easier to cut out sugar entirely.
I’ve had lots of experiences where I’ve needed to completely eliminate sugar from my diet. Whether preparing for a cleanse or for a medicinal plant journey, I find that after a brief period of adjustment, my desire to eat sweets is significantly diminished. The more sugar you eat, the more you want, and conversely, the less sugar you eat, the less you crave.
Here are some tips that have been extremely helpful to me, both in reducing my sugar intake and eliminating it completely:
- Go for fruit
When you’re craving something sweet, reach for the fruit bowl instead of the candy bowl. A nice serving of your favorite fruit will satisfy your sweet craving without the negative consequences of refined sugar, delivering plenty of fiber, vitamins, antioxidants, and water.
- Chew Licorice Root
Chewing licorice root has been shown to reduce sugar cravings because of its natural sweetness, its non-interference with blood sugar levels, and its positive effect on the adrenal glands. Try munching on this instead of Skittles!
- Eat Regularly
Running into low blood sugar is the most common cause of intense sugar cravings. If you commit to eating every couple of hours throughout the day, you will prevent your blood sugar from dropping to the point where you are reaching mindlessly for sugary snacks to get your energy level back up. Try eating five small meals per day.
- Make a Plan
Remember, the first 24 to 48 hours of cutting out sugar are always the hardest, but it’s been shown that if you can make it past the initial push, your body’s demand for sweets will drop significantly. Plan your experience with this time period in mind, and try to start your sugar-free regimen over a couple of days when you don’t anticipate being surrounded by sweets at a birthday party or at work.
- Drink Herbal Tea
Herbal teas are aromatic and many have a natural hint of sweetness that will taste delightful and help satisfy your sweet tooth. Tazo Teas’ rose hip and hibiscus infused “Passion” tea is one of my favorites and what I’m drinking right now.
- Add Protein to Every Meal
Lacking protein in your diet makes you crave sugar. Without it, your blood sugar and energy level become significantly less stable. Incorporate protein into your snacks and meals whenever possible. Too busy to cook breakfast? Have a protein shake. Add chickpeas, tofu, or grilled salmon to your salad at lunch, and if you’re snacking on fruit or veggies, throw in a few almonds for protein-carb balance.
- Stay Hydrated
This tip is simple and fundamental. When we get dehydrated, we are much more prone to crave sugary juice or soda. Before you reach for either of those when thirsty, try drinking a full glass of water, and see how you feel—your desire to drink something sweet will probably vanish. Drink twice as much water when working on eliminating sugar to keep yourself feeling full and stave of cravings.
Sugar aggravates all kinds of physiological problems from weight gain to anxiety and depression, but perhaps worst of all, it shuts down your spiritual sight. Right now, I’m trying to raise my higher consciousness, and this is my primary motivation for avoiding sugar.
The only way to break the cycle is to stop feeding the fire! Don’t be fooled by low-fat salad dressings or fat-free ketchup, as these products tend to be loaded with sugar or some version of it. Be mindful, read food labels, and try out each of these tips to see what works best for you.