How to Stop Sugar Cravings
Tips by a registered dietitian on how to stop sugar cravings.
Before we begin it's important to note that not sugar cravings are not 'bad', and shouldn't be something you should feel guilty about - cravings are natural and most of us deal with them at some point.
STEP 1- BE YOUR OWN INVESTIGATOR
We need to decipher what is fuelling this 'hunger for sugar'. Hunger isn't plain and simple and can have multiple factors which can influence it.
- Physical hunger describes the empty feeling we get in our stomachs (which is often paired with grumbling sounds), and headaches, light headedness etc. It is unlikely that sweet foods and drinks are the craving in this instant and people are more likely to choose heavier foods
- Hunger may be triggered by the smell, sight or sound of food. It might also be a desire to eat a particular textured food. Experts have noted that eating crunchy foods or sucking on hard boiled sweets may release neurotransmitters to make us feel less anxious and comforted. The same comforting neurotransmitters are released when we step on crunchy leaves or stroke a furry pet.
- The final hunger trigger is attached to emotion. This could be feelings of guilt or stress or feelings of happiness and love. Food is always at the centre of celebrations, especially in the Afro-Caribbean community. Cooking, giving food and drinks as gifts, eating and showing appreciation of a home-cooked meal by taking seconds or a portion home...this our love language. It can be difficult to break these behaviours as it may come across rude
All hunger triggers are normal and do not necessarily signify that there is anything wrong.
If you feel 'hungry' but don't have a rumbling belly, and feel that its only be sweet foods that can satisfy that hunger, psychology experts have recommended trying the following....ask yourself, "What am I really hungry for?"
Are you rewarding yourself, prolonging a celebration, adjusting to something new or difficult and using sweet foods as a comfort?
STEP 2: CREATE CHANGE
In some cases, making changes to our way of thinking about sugar, our routines and the way in which we communicate relationships can help to eliminate that need to seek comfort from sugar.
I know if can be difficult in some circumstances to make big life changes and in many cases changes (like leaving a stressful job or relationship) can take months of planning. It's still important to have that conversation with yourself because once we know he reason for the sugar craving we work towards putting things in place to minimise them.
As mentioned before, hunger for sugar can be triggered by senses (external world) or emotions (internal world)
Ways to block sugar cravings from our External World
Have a declutter of your social media. Unfollow any pages which promote and advertise high sugar, high fat recipes and restaurants. You don't need to see this on your feed
2. Out of site, out of mind. Don't be tempted to replenish on those sugary snacks that you have finished. Instead, stock up on foods which are going to be nourishing and help support your health optimisation goals
3. Check your finances. See how much you spend on sweets, fizzy drinks and impulsive snack shoppings trips. This money could instead be going towards a fitness class, higher quality snacks and ingredients or even towards holiday spending money
4. Learn from past experiences. If you know that certain situations, events and people trigger your sugar cravings, how can you be kind to yourself and create a plan to help you?
Sometimes preparation is the best form of defence and saying "no" is extremely powerful
Ways to block sugar cravings from our Internal World
Talking to someone who understands. This could be a partner, friend, work colleague or therapist
Getting active/engaging in physical activities. We know that exercise is a great way to destress, reduce anxiety and promote feelings of achievement. If you need support to get you started on your fitness journey, get in contact with RebuildHealth
3. Create another way of treating yourself. Self care and love is important but this doesn't need to be in the form of sugary foods.
4. Check your sleep hygiene. We know that poor sleep quality causes the hunger-stimulating hormone ghrelin to increase. This causes you to eat more sweets and sugary treats. It also decreases levels of the appetite-suppressing hormone. Optimum sleep is around 6-8hours
5. Reflection. Don't underestimate the power of prayer or meditation. If you don't already have dedicated time to be still and reflect on your inner self, we would recommend doing this. It could be 10mins before going to sleep or before starting your day; 10mins at the end of a workout or it could be 10mins on your commute.
Sugar Cravings, Are Natural
Remember it’s ok to use sugar to deal with life’s problems some of the time – most people do. The problem occurs when sugar becomes the ‘go-to’ way of dealing with problems it wasn’t designed to fix. By being your won investigator and figuring out what you are truly craving, and developing a range of ways of dealing with it, you will be in control, not the sugar.
Book yourself a 10min free consultation to speak with a dietitian and learn how you can identify and stop the sugar cravings