Back in my early 20s, I was a fully-fledged sugar addict. After rolling in from a stressful day at work, I’d tear into a family-sized bag of marshmallows and devour the lot.
Sometimes, I’d even search high and low for a second bag…
While this might sound horrific now (it’s easy to judge!), I honestly knew no better. Growing up when the low-fat diet was in full swing, I truly believed that sugary sweets were a god-send to my waistline. Low in fat, low in calories and (let’s face it), utterly delicious, they seemed like the perfect answer.
Now, I cringe. I never stopped to wonder at the list of ingredients. Never considered that they were full of so-called “empty calories”. I never
All I cared about was that I would get my sugary, sweet hit.
I was an addict.
So, why am I telling you all of us? Well, firstly, so that you can see just what a huge sugar addict I was! Like it or lump it, it’s incredibly easy to find yourself addicted to this white poison, yet you don’t need me to remind you just how bad sugar is for our health.
If you want to quit, or kick those sugar cravings to the curb, then here’s how to do it. How to beat those sugar cravings for good.
WHY DO I GET SUGAR CRAVINGS?
Oh, if only it were that simple! Unfortunately, there are plenty of reasons we can crave that bag of Haribo Tangfastic or mammoth bar of Dairy Milk.
You see, we’re actually facing an uphill battle against our sugar cravings from the day we’re born. Humans are wired to crave sugar and carbs since breastmilk is naturally sweet, and full of carbs to feed both baby and baby’s good bacteria. In turn, these carbs trigger the release of serotonin (a mood-stabiliser), endorphins and help us to relax.
What’s more, it’s thought that our love of sweet stuff can actually be a survival instinct. An inner alarm to help our ancestors to avoid bitter, poisonous berries. Biologically-speaking, sugar cravings can also mean that we’re feeling completely and utterly tired (this one is my problem), or our bodies could be experiencing blood sugar fluctuations, or lacking in chromium, carbon phosphorous, sulphur, and tryptophan.
Given all this, it kinda makes sense that we all crave sugar from time to time…
HOW CAN I PREVENT SUGAR CRAVINGS?
Now that you know all that, how can you work on curbing those sugar cravings? Well, let us count the ways…
EAT MORE CHROMIUM
The mineral chromium regulates our blood sugar and cholesterol levels, making it a powerful weapon in the fight against the white stuff. To get more chromium into your diet, try eating more broccoli, apples, whole grains, eggs and sweet potatoes.
UP YOUR PROTEIN:
What many people don’t realise is that sugar cravings can sometimes stem from eating too many processed carbs, and not enough healthy sources of protein and fats. You see, while our beloved carbs are super speedy sources of energy, they can also wreak havoc on our blood sugar levels, which trigger further cravings.
On the flip side, proteins are crucial in supporting our body’s neurotransmitter production, which can help us to balance hormones and avoid sugar cravings. Meanwhile, those good fats (found in delicious foods such as avocado or coconut oil) are also great sources of energy, and can keep us feeling fuller for longer, meaning no more hunger pangs!
We now know that sugar releases endorphins when we eat it. Exercise has a similar effect on our brain, pumping our body full of feel-good endorphins, so get moving! If you struggle to find the time, then try going for a long walk, or fitting in a HIIT workout.
GO TO SLEEP
This one is key for me – as a busy mama, I rarely get a night of unbroken sleep. In fact, a five-hour stretch of unbroken sleep is a good night for me! However, a bad night’s sleep can mean our bodies are deficient in leptin, a hormone that signals satiety in the brain. Meanwhile, our levels of ghrelin – the hormone which triggers hunger – can surge. Combine this with the fact that sleep is crucial in helping us to balance our blood sugars, and you have a recipe for disaster…
UP YOUR MAGNESIUM LEVELS
Magnesium is wonderful for so many different things (good quality sleep, muscle aches and pains, relaxation), yet so many of us are deficient in this mineral. Many sugar cravings are thought to be because we’re not getting enough magnesium in our diets, so try upping your intake of leafy greens, sesame seeds or tahini, brown rice and quinoa – all of which are full of magnesium!
ADD A PINCH OF CINNAMON
Not only is cinnamon a deliciously warming, natural sweetener, but it also helps us to balance our our blood sugar levels. I like to add a sprinkling of mine to porridge, coffee or stewed fruit (especially if I’ve had a sweet treat), and I also stir into curries and stews.
TRY AN L-GLUTAMINE SUPPLEMENT
L-Glutamine has been proven to reduce and conquer sugar cravings. It’s also known to heal our digestive tract, and so can work wonders on leaky gut. As ever, if you do want to take a supplement, it’s worth consulting a GP first.