Sugar is not the innocent, comforting dietary staple that we once thought it was. It has a hold on modern culture, and a strong one, at that. Not only is it destructive to the human body, but scientists now know that sugar is an addictive substance that targets the same pleasure centers in the brain as heroin or cocaine.
If 3 pm hits and you find yourself fightingan overwhelming urge to reach for something sweet, please know that you’re notalone, but there are many things that you can do to help reduce and eventuallyeliminate intense sugar cravings.
I) When first reducing your sugarconsumption, be mentally prepared fordetox-like symptoms. The first weekof reducing your sugar intake can be intense for the body and brain, so don’tbe alarmed if you feel increased levels of anxiety or irritability. This iscompletely normal! Plan an exceptionally calm week; try to go to bed a bitearlier than normal, stay connected with friends, and eat simple, nourishingmeals.
II) Createa food plan. Don’t wait until you’re starving before eating your meals. Setaside a few minutes per week to create a basic meal plan for each day, and thenhead to the store to stock up on essentials. If your kitchen and pantry arestocked full of healthy, whole foods (e.g. dates), you will be far less likelyto feel the urge to reach for something sugar-laden with the inevitable cravingshit.
III) Similarly, you may find it helpful to create a backup plan of activities tokeep busy with. Think about when you most often crave sugar. Are you stressed?Tired? Lonely? Bored? By determining when the most intense sugar cravings willhit, you can choose healthy coping mechanisms. Lonely? Try calling a friend orfamily member. Bored? Try a new activity. Stressed? Go to a yoga or fitnessclass. The opportunities are endless!
IV) Don’tfocus on weight loss. It can be overwhelming to try to tackle too manyhealth related goals at once, so when focusing on lessening your consumption ofsugar, try to keep your urges to lose weight at the same time to a minimum.Weight loss is often a natural side effect of giving up sugar in general, sothere’s no need to stress yourself out with too many different directions.
V) Findan accountability partner. Studies show that the chances of switching to ahealthier lifestyle are far higher when connecting with an accountabilitypartner. Ditching the sugar habit is no different. Ask a friend or familymember if they would be also interested in reducing their sugar consumption andcravings; perhaps they would like to partner up.
VI) Stayhydrated! It is very common for the brain to confuse dehydration with the needto consume something sweet. A simple trick is to carry a water bottle with youthroughout your daily activities to ensure that you are drinking enough plain,filtered water every day.
VII) Lastly, a quick and easy tip is to carry whole, fresh fruit with you whereveryou go. Because it is natural, unprocessed, and contains fiber, fruit doesnot affect us in the same negative light that processed sugar does, but thebody still feels satisfied with a taste of something sweet.
Be gentle with yourself! Working through sugar cravings and reducing your consumption can sometimes feel intense, but the results are worth it – more energy, weight loss, mood stability, less disease, and vibrant skin, just to name a few!