Maintaining a healthy body starts with what you put in it. However, it is much easier to say that you’re going to stick to lean proteins, healthy plant-based fats, and fresh fruits and vegetables than it is to do it consistently. All too often, we’re derailed by cravings for unhealthy foods, especially sugar. Too much refined sugar in your diet can cause weight gain, increase your risk of serious disease, and just generally leave you feeling unwell and sluggish. Even when we know this, though, it isn’t easy to kick the habit of downing sugary sodas or indulging in a handful of candy.
To stop sugar cravings, you have to understand what causes them in the first place. There’s more than one possible reason that you’re seized by the urge to eat something sweet, and helping to understand the whys behind your particular triggers can help you plan ahead to avoid them. Some of the top reasons for craving sugar immediately are:
Once you’ve familiarized yourself with the top sugar craving causes, then you can start breaking down your particular situation and identifying the best solutions. For example, if you’re constantly tired or stressed, you should focus on developing better sleep hygiene and practicing techniques to lower your stress level as part of your overall strategy to eat better. If your overindulgence in sugar is prompted by habit, then change your routine to remove the usual triggers from your environment—such as changing your route home from work to avoid the drive-through where you pick up a daily milkshake. And if you find yourself missing the momentary rush that you get from sugar, try taking up exercise! You’ll get the endorphin rush without the guilt afterward.
The most powerful strategy for ousting sugar from your diet is replacing it with mindful eating. The first step is to reduce the amount of processed food that you eat. Processed food often has much more sugar than you might suspect, with confusing labeling that disguises how much total sugar an item contains. Sticking as much as possible to fresh foods will help eliminate these hidden sources of sugar. Make sure that you’re eating plenty of protein as well, because protein prompts our bodies to feel full. If you can’t resist the taste of something sweet, reach for a piece of fruit, where the naturally occurring sugars are balanced with fiber for healthier digestion.
A persistent sugar craving can be telling you that your body is missing something important, meaning that you’re not getting the nutrients you need for optimal health. Replacing it with healthful options won’t just make you feel better psychologically, it will also make you feel better physically.