Five healthy alternatives for when you're craving sugar
Sugar cravings can be very difficult to ignore, and we are all guilty of giving in to enjoy the sweetness of a quick treat. As refined sugar causes our brains to release huge surges of dopamine, we instantly feel happier as a result. But the long-term effects of eating too much sugar are seriously detrimental to our health, leading to health problems such as tooth decay, diabetes, obesity and raised cholesterol.
That said, deprivation is not the answer. There are plenty of healthy alternatives to processed sugars that will help us get our ‘fix’, without the complications. Here are the top five on our list to help you when you’re craving sugar.
Many fruits such as berries, oranges, mangoes and kiwis are very sweet but are also good for you. Packed with antioxidants, vitamins and fibre, eating fruit will help to not only satisfy your urge for something sweet but also keep you more satiated. This is due to the high fibre content, as well as the way in which your body responds to eating natural sugars rather than refined sugar.
Although fruit will raise your blood sugar levels, it does so in a less aggressive manner than candy or chocolate will. Even if you have type 2 diabetes, you can still incorporate a moderate amount of fruit into your diet, so long as you keep an eye on the effect it has on your blood sugar levels.
Studies have shown that eating more protein has the ability to help reduce sugar cravings, increase satiety and reduce overall calorie intake. Protein encourages dopamine release within the brain, which gives a sense of satisfaction and can help keep unhealthy treats out of your mind.
Rich in protein, sugar-free garlic hummus with vegetable sticks are a great snackhttps://www.eatingwell.com/recipe/256571/garlic-hummus/.
On a plant-based lifestyle, there are many ways to get your proteins, from nuts to seeds, grains and legumes to tofu, tempeh....- just be sure they are sugar-free. If you regularly struggle with sugar cravings, your overall diet may be lacking in protein. Try to include the right amount with your meals to ensure you're meeting your daily requirements.(Between 2.2 to 2.8 gr of protein per 100 calories)
Dried fruit and nuts
Trail mix or other dried fruit and nut combinations are a great, healthy snack which provide plenty of nutrition and may help satisfy sugar cravings. Be sure to opt for varieties without added salt or sugar though, as many seemingly healthy mixes are actually not so.
Dried apricots are a brilliant choice for their natural sweetness and high fibre content, which give a quick fix when you want something sweet. Paired with a handful of nuts, you’ve got a balanced and satisfying snack that will keep you satiated for longer than the fruit would alone. This is because the fruit
provides quick release energy and the nuts digest slowly to keep your cravings at bay and provide slow-release energy.
Dehydration can cause false hunger and cravings, so it's worth trying a glass of water to see if that fixes your want for sugar. For a naturally sweet and refreshing drink, try water infused with berries, orange slices or lemon wedge. If you are trying to reduce your intake of soda, which contains huge amounts of sugar, switching to sparkling water can help to end cravings and satisfy the “soda need”
If you find you’re eating out of boredom rather than actual hunger, you may want to distract yourself until your cravings pass. Exercising or doing something highly focused and away from the kitchen may be all you need to overcome your cravings and forget about them altogether. Once the moment has passed and you feel more in control, opt for a healthy and balanced snack or meal to ensure you help keep urges for sugar at bay.
Keep it steady
We may experience acute sugar cravings when our blood sugar levels drop too low, and our bodies essentially panic and want to urgently rebalance their levels. Sugar is the fastest way to provide your body with energy, and it knows this. To avoid falling into the trap of feeling like you desperately need sugar, try to eat balanced meals with the right amount of fat and protein regularly. These slow-release fuels will help keep you fuller for longer and reduce the fluctuation of your blood sugar levels, hopefully avoiding any cravings.
As a passionate health addict, Jody enjoys helping others find new ways to overcome their food addictions and enjoy a more fulfilling lifestyle.