Our fight against refined sugar continues and brings us to an interesting body response – sugar cravings. Apart from the known ill effects of sugar, it is worth noting that illnesses, diseases and body conditions like obesity, type 2 diabetes, heart issues, cancer, and tooth decay have a scary and direct association with having a high sugar content in your diet.
Sugar cravings are also known to be more common amongst women as compared to men but both genders experience very high rates of cravings at different points in their life cycle. If not addressed in a correct and balanced manner, this could go on to become potentially dangerous for health. The worst thing about sugar cravings is that it does not keep encouraging you to hoard your body only on sugar. It also gravitates you to eating bags and cans worth of processed and junk food which has adverse effects on everything from blood sugar to cholesterol levels and more.
Sugar cravings produce a physical as well as mental response in your body. is Controlling that craving is all about picking the right kind of foods to satiate it and to leave you feeling full. Once the habit of satiating the sugar craving in the right way is formed, it will stop affecting you mentally as well. The feeling full part is so because you don’t want to substitute sugar-rich foods with other foods that scupper your calorie counts for the day.
Here are our favourite tips and tricks.
Swap junk food for a fruit whenever you feel like consuming something sugary. Fruits will give you that hit of sweetness you are craving and stop the sugar fixation before it becomes an issue. Most fruits are naturally sweet and also contain whole load of other beneficial plant compounds along with fibre. This allows you to not just deal with your sweet fix but do so in a healthy manner. If the sugar craving is very high, try fruits such as mangoes or even a bunch of grapes which are known to have higher sugar content. And if a bunch of fruits won’t do it for your hunger pangs, add some yogurt to the bowl and make it a protein packed, satiating snack.
Berries tend to become an automatic, excellent and nutritious choice to stop sugar cravings apart from having several anti-oxidising properties. It also helps that most of them taste sweet but did you know that they are very high in fibre which means a handful will leave you feeling full and happy at the same time. Berries are also rich in plant compounds and have strong anti-inflammatory properties whereby they can help reduce risks of heart disease and diabetes. Not to mention, they are low in natural sugar making them a healthier option for your blood sugar levels.
3. Fermented Foods
Fermented foods such as yogurt, kimchi, and kombucha are wonderful sources of beneficial bacteria. Beneficial bacteria from these foods help to maintain balance of “good” bacteria in the gut and also to reduce the number of disease-causing bacteria from your system. The types of bacteria in the gut are also linked to many body processes which means it’s important to maintain a healthy balance. Fermented foods in all forms, contribute to maintaining gut health, and influence your appetite and food intake subsequently affecting your sugar cravings.
4. Chia Seeds
Chia seeds are a wonderful source of several important nutrients like omega-3 fatty acids, soluble dietary fibre and even some healthy plant compounds. In fact, fibre accounts for around 40% of chia seed compositions. This soluble fibre easily absorbs water and swells up to form a gelatinous substance in your gut. A natural influence of this is that you keep feeling fuller for longer and it also prevents sugar cravings. How do you eat them you ask? Chia seeds are versatile and can be turned into delicious puddings, with minimum sugar and maximum benefits.
5. Sugar-Free Chewing Gum
Sometimes it’s easy to trick the mind only by chewing which is why chewing gum can be your biggest saviour. However, of course you need the gum to ideally be sugar free. They become a natural and effective way to control your sugar cravings. Studies show that chewing gum post a meal could also help control hunger, cravings and the intake of carb-heavy foods throughout the day. The sugar-free kinds are also good for your teeth, especially after a meal.
6. Sweet Potatoes
The usual potato is linked with fats and starch. And for most people the sweet potato is equally not good for a diet right, considering that it’s sweeter and all that? Wrong! Sweet potatoes are nutritious, sweet and can be very filling. They contain complex carbs but also a lot of fibre along with several other vitamins and minerals, including vitamin A, vitamin C and potassium. Sometimes hunger can also lead to sugar cravings so including some healthy carbs in your meal plan will help combat that. Just simply roast them and enjoy their natural sweetness. You could also sprinkle a condiment of your choice if you like them flavoured.
Prunes are effectively dried plums and are very similar in nature to what dates are. Yes! That means they are a ‘carry me around anywhere’ quick fix snack for anytime hunger or the sweet cravings strike. Also like dates they are packed with fibre and other beneficial nutrients and have a naturally sweet-tasting flavour. The high fibre quantity and sorbitol content mean that they relieve constipation as well. Cut them up for your smoothie bowls or eat them whole, this a sugar killing treat that is simply hard to beat.
Another ideal kind of food which is easily available and can be stored even on your person at all times. The good thing about dates is that they never need to be refrigerated which means you could carry them around quite literally in your pocket and not have a problem popping some when the sugar craving or even regular hunger strikes. It helps significantly since they are highly nutritious and also naturally very sweet. Even in their dried form, they are fantastic fibre source potassium, iron and beneficial plant compounds. A fun way to have dates is in the form of energy balls packed with nuts and seeds.
Legumes such as lentils, beans and chickpeas and the likes and are known to be great plant-based sources of fibre and protein. On an average 198 grams of lentils provides around 18 grams of protein and 16 grams of fibre. Both these nutrients increase the feeling of fullness. Hence including legumes in your diet helps you feel fuller and reduces any sort of hunger driven sugar cravings. It is a known fact that we tend to gravitate towards sweet things when hungry.
10. Meat and Fish
If your diet has enough protein in it through sources like meat, poultry and fish, it will keep you fuller for longer and will subsequently control your hunger cravings and indirectly any sugar rush runs that you may experience. Vegetarians can also look towards several options of plant based proteins to supplement their diets. Good sources of protein like meat, poultry and fish may help keep you full and prevent cravings for junk food and sweets in particular.
Another ingenious fruit and yogurt combination, a smoothie is an ideal way to counter sweet cravings and hunger all at once. Whip up a quick concoction of your choice in the blender and you are great to go. Throw in some fruit or nuts and berries of your choice along with a bowl full of natural and unsweetened yogurt to amp up the protein factor and blitz. The fruit and yogurt combo is filled with healthy nutrients and the fibre derived from the fruit will also keep you full for a longer time. Smooth and easy!
This is once again a healthy snack saviour that is easy to find, easy to store and even easy to make. Additionally it is also easy to cook with or mix and match with or just have it plain. Yogurt is also high in protein and rich in calcium content. It is also an ideal food to help regulate appetite and keep sugar cravings in check. One bowl of Greek or even regular but natural yogurt in the afternoon can keep you feeling full longer till dinner time. The healthiest possible yogurt you could buy, or make and eat would be one packed with natural live food cultures and is completely devoid of any added sugar.
By now you must have sensed that anything high in protein is a great way to deal with hunger cravings and subsequently with sugar cravings. The simple egg is a wonderful protein source which keeps you fuller for longer as well. Eggs are usually consumed during breakfast and a high-protein breakfast kills hunger for longer while also increasing hormones that make you feel full. Once again easy to make and yummier to eat, the simple egg can be a curry, or in any other breakfast format.
14. Mixed Nuts and Dried Fruits
Just the way fruits are great in any form so are mixed dried fruits a wonderful way to keep hunger and sugar cravings in complete check. The sweetness of the dried fruit will satiate your sugar cravings, and it’s also a great way to get some nuts into your diet plan. This is important because nuts contain healthy fats, proteins, fibre, and plant compounds and have a number of benefits like improved heart health and diabetes levels.
15. Snack Bars
A word of caution before you go wheeling off to the super market, not all snack bars are healthy! In fact a lot of them are very high in fat and sugar content both; the two big no-no’s of any diet. So even if you have wheeled off to the super market, try finding the healthier option for the snack bar now that you are there. A snack bar made with whole oats and sweetened with fresh or dried fruit and dates is what you are looking for as compared to anything with table sugar on the contents table. The ideal snack bar is made with whole foods because of higher fibre content and other beneficial nutrients.
16. Whole Grains
Whole grains are rich in fibre and contain several nutrients including vitamins, magnesium, iron, phosphorus, manganese and selenium. Eating whole grains regularly has been linked to a longer, healthier life, and their high fibre content means that they keep you fuller for longer. Once again, this directly affects your sugar cravings and does not allow you to infringe on your calorie count as well.