How To Stop Sugar Cravings!
I need to stop my sugar cravings!
There I’ve said it! It has been a gradual downward spiral that resulted from some pretty crazy, busy times over the last few months, as well as pressure from multiple directions. It’s been one of those periods where you simply take one day at a time and just keep reminding yourself to keep pushing on because eventually, you will come out the other side. I don’t like these times in life and fortunately I feel they are becoming few and further between, although I must say that I am usually better at recognising them and putting on the brakes.
Since August I have had a heap of business-related events, extra projects on the go, have packed up our home of 8 years and moved, changed the kids’ schools, dealt with multiple family members and friends in crisis, struggled to sleep, overindulged in sugary foods and have ended up with adrenal fatigue.
So, what does this mean? Well, adrenal fatigue makes you feel exhausted, yet you struggle to sleep. It makes you feel anxious, yet you feel pretty flat. It makes you intensely crave anything that will help you get through (caffeine and sugar), even though you know that it will only make things worse.
In addition to all of this, I know that sugar is really harmful to our bodies. Excessive sugar intake will put me at risk of weight gain, skin issues, inflammation, headaches, nutritional deficiencies, as well as heart disease, diabetes and a range of other serious health issues.
Well, the line has been drawn in the sand and I must curb the cravings if I stand a chance of getting back to my usual self in a relatively short period of time – it usually takes 6 months to recover, however with some clear guidance, ditching the caffeine and sugar, and getting plenty of sleep, I intend to get there a lot quicker than that.
So, here is the information you have been waiting for! This is how to stop sugar cravings on a plant based diet.
1. Read the labels on everything
You will find sugar in some form or another in almost everything. It’s in cereals, dressings, sauces, bread, beverages, snackfoods… it’s everywhere. It also goes by a whole heap of other names including sucrose, high fructose corn syrup (HFCS), agave, caramel, fruit juice concentrate, golden syrup, blackstrap molasses, molasses, sorghum syrup, treacle, barley malt, dextrin, dextrose, ethyl maltol, maltodextrin, maltose… and the list goes on and on.
The easiest way to work out if something is loaded with sugar is to look at the g/100g of the product. You want it to be less than 5g sugars/100g.
2. Get more sleep
I often struggle to make the connection between sleep and sugar cravings, however, it’s pretty simple when you think about it. Sugar cravings are the body’s way of asking for energy and it’s a pretty simple form of energy. So, if you are consistently not getting enough sleep then your body will start craving sugars. It is also a good idea to have a set sleep schedule so that you can get into a good routine. For me this means a cup of chamomile tea and a book. I also find that wearing socks to bed helps me sleep through the night (mind you, a lock on my bedroom door to keep the kids out may also help). ? ?
3. Drink lots of water
I have to admit that when things get too hectic, my stress levels get too high and I go into survival mode, I do not focus on my water intake at all. It’s one of the first things to go and I should know better.
Water is super important as it flushes out the toxins in your system. When you are pushing yourself too much there will be a build up of toxins to flush. One of my best tips is to have two big glasses of water before indulging in any sugar, as I often find that it really dulls down my craving and I can sometimes move on. Of course, the best option is to increase your water intake before it even gets to this point. Keep a water bottle nearby and even set yourself a reminder if you need to. There are some great apps these days that will remind you – I am using Daily Water – Drink Reminder – so far, so good!
4. Be conscious of your minerals intake
Often sugar cravings, especially chocolate, can be caused by a magnesium deficiency, and since magnesium is really important for restful sleep, a lack of this mineral can trigger a downward spiral. I go for a magnesium supplement in the evening as it really helps me to sleep soundly, although you can also simply increase your food sources including almonds, cashews, peanuts, soy milk, black beans, avocado, potato, rice, oatmeal and spinach.
Zinc is really important in the production, storage and secretion of insulin which helps regulate blood sugar levels. This is another one that I am supplementing under guidance as I need to get on top of my adrenal fatigue quickly, however, you can also consider increasing your intake of beans (chickpeas and kidney), oatmeal, cashews and peas.
There are other minerals that can contribute to sugar cravings including chromium, vanadium, calcium, and phosphorus. I am opting for a multivitamin that is specifically designed for a vegan diet to help with these.
5. Reach for the healthy fats and protein instead
Healthy fats will help slow down the absorption of sugar into your bloodstream and will keep you feeling satiated longer, it’s as simple as that. So the next time you are craving sugar, go for avocado toast, a protein smoothie, peanut butter, tofu, chia seeds, flax seeds, beans or a handful of nuts. You will be surprised how well this works. In the first instance though, switch to a dark chocolate and limit yourself to one piece with a handful of nuts, then gradually reduce the chocolate component (even though it is dark chocolate, it often also contains sugar, and if not it is definitely giving you the caffeine boost instead which is not a great alternative).
6. Recognise your triggers
Take a moment to actually reflect on how you are feeling when you have a craving. Are you hungry, stressed, tired, emotional, angry? If you can make the connection between how you are feeling when you have a craving, you may be able to recognise the signs early enough to get ahead of the game and counteract it. Remember at the end of the day most of us simply form habits that we find hard to break. Personally, when I’m feeling stressed, I go for the sugar. It’s like my release. The main thing to be careful of though is that you don’t exchange one vice for another.
Can you do it? I’m going to give it a good go. I know that the first week will be the hardest, but at the same time I know the benefits of getting on top of my sugar cravings once and for all. Remember, there are plenty of super delicious desserts out there that are not loaded with sugar. Try this one, swapping out the maple for rice malt syrup, and you will be feeling satisfied in every way – Chocolate Orange Avocado Mousse