Most of us love sugar and its sweet taste. For many of us sugar reminds us of celebrations, home and comfort. In addition, we just plain enjoy eating it. The problem is that sugar can wreak havoc on our cholesterol levels. Sugar, and other foods that quickly raise blood sugar like refined grains, will also raise triglyceride levels in susceptible people. In addition, sugar is often paired with trans fats which raise LDL cholesterol or the “bad” cholesterol and lower HDL cholesterol or the “good” cholesterol. When buying already packaged food, you can identify trans fats by looking for hydrogenated, partially hydrogenated and shortening on the ingredient label.
It may be all well and good to say that you need to end your sugar cravings but sugar cravings can be so overwhelming. They are often controlling us instead of us controlling them. I know because I was a sugar junkie myself, and even though my sugar cravings are so much more in control now, I always have to be extra vigilant when it comes to this alluring, sweet substance so that it doesn’t lure me back into its lair again.
So what do I do to keep my sugar cravings at bay? Check out these 5 key sugar-busting tricks below:
Drink water: Sometimes sugar cravings are a sign of dehydration. In fact, one of my clients struggled with an afternoon sugar craving that completely went away once she started drinking more water. If you crave something sweet, just take a moment to drink a glass of water, wait 15 minutes to see if your craving goes away.
Get physical activity: When you start moving your body on a regular basis, you will be regulating your blood sugar levels more effectively while reducing stress so that you don’t need to medicate yourself with sugar. A word of caution: too much exercise can trigger sugar cravings too. Find the right amount of movement for you and your body type. I have heard way too many stories of people craving sweets right after exercise.
Eliminate fat-free or low-fat foods: This made a big difference for me. I noticed that when I ate too little fat during the day, I would crave sweets. Eating enough healthy fat throughout the day will help you feel satisfied with your meals so that you don’t need to get your fat from the sugary foods on the market. In addition, many packaged foods that are low in fat compensate for the loss in flavor that comes from the fat by adding more sugar which will send your energy levels on a roller coaster ride.
Experiment with spices: Eating too much salt or spicy food can trigger a sugar craving. During one of my workshops, a participant stated that she loved spicy food but always wanted something sweet afterward. When she reduced the amount of spiciness, her sugar cravings went away. I think the sweet and salty taste combination is very appealing. Just think of examples out in the market place. We have peanut butter cups, nuts coated with sugar and spices, margaritas with salt, and chocolate covered pretzels.
Love your life: If you are stressed and unhappy with your life in any way, you are much more likely to reach for the sweets to make yourself feel better. You must find ways to add sweetness into your life in non-food ways. One of my clients felt the need to be pampered and treated special after a boring day at work. Prior to working with her, she used to eat cookies or other unhealthy snacks in the evening as a way to treat herself. Today, when she comes home, she takes an essential oil body scrub and no longer has the craving for sweets in the evening.