We are all familiar with how excessive sugar can harm our body. Still, there is a chance that almost all of us overlook this and consume sugar more than the required amount. You are definitely not the only one if you are left to crave for more after munching on sugary snacks. A lot of simple carbohydrates can quickly satiate your hunger and give your body a temporal energy boost only to leave you yearning for more!
How Sugar Affects the Brain and Body?
Products that contain added sugar form a major proportion of the daily calorie intake. Consuming sugar in excess might lead to obesity and other chronic diseases like diabetes.
Sugar-sweetened drinks such as sodas, juices, and sweet teas contain fructose which is a kind of simple sugar. Consuming fructose increases your hunger and craving for food more than glucose. Furthermore, excessive fructose consumption might counter leptin, an important hormone that regulates hunger and does not let it eat more. In other words, sugary beverages don’t curb your hunger, making it easy to consume a high number of liquid calories. This can lead to weight gain. Also, when you eat sugar in excess, the extra insulin that gets accumulated in your bloodstream can have a negative impact on your arteries. It causes their walls to grow at a pace faster than normal, which becomes stressful for your heart and damages it over time.
Why is it so Hard to Quit Sugar?
It is easy to follow what looks like a healthy diet and still add too much-added sugar. Sugar tricks the brain into wanting more. Excess sugar stimulates the pancreas to produce extra insulin, which is involved in blood sugar regulation. The insulin then signals the fat cells to store an excess amount of fatty acids, glucose, and substances rich in calories. Due to which the amount of calories remaining in the bloodstream gets low and due to which the brain feels, it’s low on fuel. As a result hunger levels rise and since sugar provides the quick energy it is alluring when we are hungry.
How to Detox from Added Sugar?
In a span of about 1 week, you can easily train your taste buds to stop craving for foods loaded with extra sugar, while still eating healthy fats, carbohydrates, and proteins to satisfy your hunger. The best way to do this is to prepare your food at home whenever you can and use vegetables, herbs, spices, fruits for flavor rather than using artificial sweeteners. Follow these 4 basic steps to detox yourself from added sugar.
- Get in the right mindset.
- Cut Sugar for 1 week.
- Slowly reintroduce sugar.
- Don’t expect perfection.
Smart Food Swaps to Kill Your Sweet Tooth
2. Apple Cider Vinegar
Drinking apple cider vinegar with water can help reduce sugar cravings. Drinking acetic acid through vinegar along with meal loaded with carbs can help regulate blood sugar and insulin levels, which in turn can be very helpful in lessening your sugar cravings. Daily ingestion of vinegar reduces blood sugar levels in adults who are at risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
3. Dark Chocolate
A combination of fruits coupled with dark chocolate is sure to treat your sugar cravings. Take a block of chocolate and eat it with fruits like banana, peach or a cup of strawberries. Dark chocolate is helpful because it contains magnesium, vitamin B and fibers. It is one of the ways to let go of your sugar cravings.
Berries are an excellent food source to halt sugar cravings. Their sweet taste and high-fiber content actually make their sugar content very low. Berries also have strong anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.
5. Trail Mix
Trail mix is a mixture of dried fruits and nuts. The sweetness of the dried fruits and high fiber, protein and fat content of the nuts gives your sweet fix an added nutritional value.
6. Fermented Foods
Fermented foods namely yogurt, kimchi, kombucha, and sauerkraut are sources of bacteria that are beneficial. Ensuring the presence of “good” bacteria and fighting disease-causing bacteria is what this beneficial bacteria helps in. In fact, the bacteria in your gut are also connected to many processes in your body and can “talk” to your brain through the compounds and hormones they produce which makes it possible for your gut bacteria to influence your food intake in a number of ways. Some of these compounds may even emulate hunger or fullness hormones in your body, directly affecting your appetite and food cravings.
Eggs are high-protein food that helps to keep your cravings and appetite under control. Eggs keep you feeling full for a longer period and also reduce the chances of sugar cravings throughout the day.
Smoothies made with fruits, vegetables, and nut butter not only increase the intake of fresh foods but also help in curbing sugar cravings. Smoothies are also rich in fiber which gives you a feeling of fullness for a longer period.
9. High-fiber Foods
Fibre has a tendency to keep you satiated after every meal. This automatically prevents you to reach out for desserts post your meal. For a diet high in fiber, eat green vegetables, fruits, whole grains like quinoa, millet and brown rice and the vegetables with low GI such as pumpkin and sweet potato.
Have cinnamon as the last resort if nothing else stops your sugar cravings. Cinnamon dupes your body into sensing that it has had sweet. It helps reduce sugar cravings because of its ability to control blood glucose levels. This minimizes insulin rise after meals that make you feel more hungry and consequently, consume even more sugar. Add some in your tea or coffee or take it in the form of a supplement.
Legumes are great plant-based sources of high fiber and protein which increase the feeling of fullness. Including legumes like lentils, beans, and chickpeas in your diet could help you feel fuller for longer and reduce sugar cravings driven by hunger.
12. Chia Seeds
Chia seeds contain many important nutrients like omega-3 fatty acids and soluble dietary fiber which readily absorbs water and bloats to form a jelly-like substance in your gut, which may help keep you feeling fuller and satiated for a longer period of time and prevent sugar cravings. Chia seeds are also versatile, so if you want a dessert to satisfy your sweet craving, you could make a chia pudding.
13. Lean Meat
Sugar or carbohydrate breakdown would dissuade the proteins like lean chicken, salmon, and steak for releasing insulin. So, it is a must to add these to our diet. Try baked lemon salmon along with asparagus, spinach, and orange. This will leave you full and stop your sugar cravings.
14. Snack Bars/ Granola Bars
Granola Bars or snack bars that are made with whole foods such as oats and that are sweetened with fresh or dried fruits are considered healthy. Some snack bars are very high in fat and sugar, check out the label before you pick one. Best snack bars are made with whole foods which are high in fiber and keep you full for a longer period.
15. Whole Grains
Whole grains are rich in fiber and contain several nutrients magnesium, selenium, iron, vitamin B, phosphorus. Whole grains help you feel fuller for longer and reduce sugar cravings driven by hunger.
The best way to steer clear of harmful sugar substitutes is to eat dates. Dates are a great way to treat sweet tooth. Add dates to a cacao smoothie with fresh banana, hemp seeds. You can also eat dates with avocado for added flavor, good filling fats, and a smooth creamy texture. You’ll get sweetness, fiber, protein, all in one and it will keep you full and happy.
17. Dry Fruits & Nuts
You can always follow up dinner with nuts or almonds if you are in the mood to do away with sweets. They are mildly sweet and rife with a lot of minerals. Brazil nuts are loaded with selenium, which aids in cognitive function, thyroid function, fertility, and ensures a healthy immune system. Almonds have magnesium, fiber and vitamin E. They mitigate blood sugar levels and reduce blood pressure.
18. Frozen Grapes
Grapes, being innately sweet are helpful in assuaging sweet cravings. Eating a bunch of grapes twice a day will put a stop to your sugar cravings and you will not be tempted to consume anything extra sugary.
19. Sugar-free Chewing Gums
Chewing gums can help control hunger, cravings and the intake of carb-heavy foods during the day. Chewing gums help control food intake and curb your cravings.
Tips to Fight Sugar Cravings
- Choose Quality over Quantity: If the temptation to eat sweet gets the better of you, you can always eat something but in a small quantity. It is important to learn to incorporate small amounts in the diet but the focus must be only on filling your stomach with less sugary but healthier options. Sometimes, less is more!
- Eat Regularly: Never wait for too long in between meals since it can make you hungry and force you to reach out for sweets. Eat every three to five hours. It regularizes blood sugar level and keeps you full.
- Grab Some Chewing Gum or Mints: One of the great ways to reduce sugar cravings is to keep chewing gums for a good amount of the day. Gum or mints that are made with artificial sweeteners taste sweet but contain very few calories and almost no sugar. Chewing gum can also help control hunger, cravings and the intake of carb-heavy foods later in the day.
- Get Moving: When a sugar craving strikes, walk away. Just go for a walk to take your mind off the food you are craving.
- Reach for Your Favorite Fruits: Always keep fruits handy when sugar cravings strike. Keep them handy so that you can reach them instead of reaching for the sugary something.