Humans prefer sweets since birth. Sugary foods are readily available, less expensive and give you instant gratification. This is because sugars are simple carbohydrates which stimulate the secretion of the feel-good hormone from the brain. But whatever makes you feel good may not be good for you always. Enjoying sugary foods occasionally is not bad but the craving for those can be disastrous.
Why you crave for sugar?
The reason is simple. When you take a nutritious balanced diet consisting of veggies, fats, and proteins, your dopamine shoots at high levels. Dopamine is a neurotransmitter which activates the pleasure and reward center of the brain. High dopamine levels keep you mentally active driving in motivation.
When you go on consuming the balanced diet with the same food items regularly, your dopamine level starts falling drastically finally leveling off. But if you take sugar-rich foods, your dopamine level spikes and when you continue consuming more of these, the dopamine level instead of plunging maintains a steady level making you feel high always.
Gradually, this becomes a sort of addiction. The more you consume sugary foods the more you crave for those. The result is tremendous weight gain inviting a disaster on your overall health. Therefore, it is always important to look for variety in your balanced diet to maintain the high dopamine level.
10 steps to overcome sugar craving:
If sugar has turned out to be an overwhelmingly daily temptation making you feel helpless in controlling it, the following steps may be useful in taming your cravings:
- Make sure to have a protein packed breakfast:
Breakfast rich in lean proteins will not only keep you full throughout the day reducing your cravings but also produce less hunger-stimulating hormone ghrelin and more PPY hormone, which signals fullness. The result is you don’t feel like munching sugary foods at wrong times.
- Take little to satisfy your craving:
Your sugar craving won’t go off in a day. Occasionally, you may have to give in to it. Take little quantities of sugary bites whenever the craving hits you. This will prevent you from taking bigger bites.
- Try combination foods:
Sugar craving often makes you feel guilty. You can combine few healthy foods with the sugary items. Dip a banana in chocolate sauce or munch few almonds with chocolate. Whatever you mix, take care of the quantity of sugar consumed.
- Never starve:
You skip meals and fuel your sugar cravings. Going hungry for hours lowers your blood sugar level making you crave for instant energy push. You end up grabbing sugar-rich foods for quick replenishment. Keep eating light after every 4-5 hours to maintain steady energy levels.
- Reach out for fruits:
This will give you two benefits in one go. The sweet taste of fruits will reduce your sugar craving and the nutrient content in them will be beneficial for your health.
- Divert yourself:
Whenever this craving hits you, get up from your workstation and take a small walk around. Divert yourself to reading some stuff or listening to music. You may require few days to get used to this.
- Discard the hidden sugars:
Even if you reduce the intake of sugary foods, you are still not aware of the hidden sugars in your pantry. Sugary drinks, snack bars, sweetened yogurt, baked goods, donuts or processed foods all are loaded with sugar. Discard them and be committed not to bring those back again.
- Are you sleeping enough?
You need to check this as well. It is important to balance the hunger-producing hormone ghrelin, leptin (which indicates satiety) and insulin to reduce your sugar craving. Getting less than 7-9 hours of sleep may upset this hormonal balance leading to a surge in ghrelin and drop in leptin.
- Calm yourself if you are in a botheration:
The relation between human emotional state and sugar (sweets) is primeval. Whenever you are emotionally upset or bothered by something, you pop in a candy. This may be a habit nurtured since childhood. So whenever you pick up a candy, pause and give a thought, “Why I am taking this now?” This will make you realize the underlying cause and prevent you from those sinful bites.
- Pinpoint your craving timings:
When the sugar craving hits you most? Is it the morning coffee time with your peers or when struggling with an unfinished task? Or when you are feeling hungry for long? Or is it a random craving striking you anytime anywhere? Spotting the timings along with the cause will lead you towards healthy alternatives helping you in reducing the unhealthy cravings.