urbing sugar cravings has probably been one of my longest “food goals” since adulthood. I wasn’t always aware of the benefits to eliminating excess sugar from my diet, but somewhere in the back of my mind I knew it was important.
Once we had kids and realized that sugar laden snacks were available (and offered) around every corner, we decided we needed to take a proactive approach for keeping sugar to a minimum in their diets. At times it’s hard to be “those parents”…the one’s that say no to excess candy around holidays, and endless samples in the grocery store.
We frequently hear, “It’s just a little treat, lighten up!” or, “One tiny treat every now and then won’t hurt them.” It may surprise you, but we fully agree! One little treat won’t hurt them. And yes, we do lighten up and allow our kiddos delicious desserts…on occasion! Trust me when I say our kids have no shortage of opportunities for treats. Their Grammie lives close by with her tantalizing bowl of colorful jelly beans and holiday cookies. With four kiddos there’s no shortage of birthday parties to attend. And with frequent family get gatherings all the opportunities for a “special occasion” no longer seem on occasion. In fact, they’re down right frequent.
Tired of Constant Cravings?
The tough thing about sugar is the more you have, the more you want. It’s a vicious cycle really and I can notice a large dose of sugar in my kiddos behavior almost immediately. They’ll have overboard-enthusiasm with a rush of energy and excitement followed shortly by cranky and lazy attitudes. This is them trying to deal with a “sugar crash”.
If I’m being honest, I’m not much different. If I have a large dose of sugar, say from a flavored latte, I’ll get a quick dose of energy and happiness followed a couple hours later by a headache and the need for either a nap or another dose of sugar to get me through the day. Some have even compared the addictive nature of sugar with that of cocaine or heroin. The fact is, studies show sugar lights up the same pleasure receptors in the brain as cocaine and heroin. Even the mere sight or smell of sugar can fire off these pleasure receptors.
Stop the Cycyle
If you, like me, want to rid yourself of nasty sugar cravings and subsequent crashes, the vicious sugar cycle must be broken. How do we do this? Well, it should go without saying that we need to eliminate the sugar.
Wait, eliminate it completely? Well, yes, at first. In order to get rid of a craving, you’ll need a good solid three weeks free from sugar. I know, I know, this seems impossible. But let me tell you, it’s not! It will, however, take focus, willpower and, most likely, strong accountability. Rest assured, you shouldn’t have to give up sugar for the rest of your life. But if you want to break the vicious cycle of crashes and cravings (and allow for possible healing within your body), then abstaining completely is necessary for a time, then implementing treats back in in true moderation (we’ll discuss moderation later) should be just fine.
How to Curb Sugar Cravings:
1. Eat a healthy, high quality diet: This looks a little different for each of us, but our family follows these basic principles for our healthy diet. Eating a healthy diet will provide you with the fats, proteins, carbohydrates and nutrients needed to fuel your body. Which leads us to #2…
2. Eat Fat: Fat is fuel, and it’s extremely satiating. When our diet is filled with plenty of healthy fat, our cravings for sugar will naturally diminish. For more information on healthy fat, read this post.
2. Add fermented foods to your diet: Whenever a sugar craving hits, I grab my jar of sauerkraut or my favorite brand of fermented dill pickles, and have a quick snack. Oddly enough, a spoonful of sauerkraut or a pickle actually helps with the sugar cravings! If the desire for somethings sweet is still there, I’ll grab some water kefir or kombucha, which are both naturally sweet and filled with healthy probiotics. Fermented beverages like these are cultured by bacteria and yeast which consume the sugar within the beverage. So you get the sweet tasting drink sans sugar overload.
3. Have a plan & get mentally strong: OK, that’s two things, but they go hand in hand. Sugar cravings WILL come. Inevitably you’ll be invited to a birthday party, or coffee with the girls, or a holiday season (ahem) will be upon you, all touting a variety of sugary delicacies…so make a plan! What will you do when those times come? What alternative will you have ready? Make it something that you’re actually excited about. Experiment with some favorite recipes subbing out Stevia for the sugar (this takes a little finesse, but it can be so worth it).
Do you enjoy something sweet to cap off the evening? What will your alternative be? Habits can be broken, new “normal’s” created, the question is: is it important enough?
4. Give it three weeks: That’s not long, right? A close friend of mine recently went off sugar to help normalize imbalanced hormones. (Sometimes having debilitating side-effects can help jump start your motivation.) She relayed her daily struggles and victories and we walked through the transition together. She recalls the first week being fairly easy. Enough mental willpower can get most people through the first week. The second week was hardest as sugar cravings became stronger, and the thought of another week before relief seemed daunting. By the third week she was so close her willpower increased, but so did the cravings. Having the support of her family and friends was critical, and if she hadn’t made a plan, she may have given in. But by the end of that third week the cravings were gone. She is now three months sugar free and in the midst of the holiday season. The lure of sugar has no control over her, but rather the way she feels is so much better there’s no treat in the world to bring her back to the days where only a dose of sugar could get her from 3PM to 8PM each day.
What about you?
Are you wanting to kick sugar to the curb? If so, sugar doesn’t have to be gone for good. Once you break the vicious cycle of the “white plague”, you should be able to enjoy a sugary treat on occasion (and by occasion I mean once or twice a month).
If you’re wanting more information on sugar and it’s harmful effects on our bodies, check out this post where I link to a movie called “That Sugar Film”. A very eye opening documentary that was the catalyst for my own sugar reduction. For even more information, read this article on the Weston A. Price Foundations website which discusses the addictive nature of sugar, the bodily harm sugar causes, additional tricks for fighting sugar cravings and even some no-sugar snack alternatives.