Easy ways to overcome sugar cravings

By naturopath Margaret Jasinska

Quite often we find ourselves fall the victim to an unhealthy binge or a drop in the guard of a healthy lifestyle. It is a problem if you’re finding it hard to return to your usual good eating habits. Sometimes going off the rails during holiday periods like Easter can make it extremely difficult to get back on track with good eating. Sugar cravings can persist and become overwhelmingly strong. If your clothes are starting to feel tighter and you want to lose some weight, the following tips may help:

Make sure you’re eating 3 proper meals each day

The meals should be comprised of adequate protein and healthy fats. These are what help to keep you feeling satiated. It is important to make the time to eat and enjoy 3 meals a day. Nibbling all day or skipping meals is not the route to losing weight. You will probably end up eating too much in the end, and feel overly full by the evening. You might need to add a little more fat than usual to your meals for the next few days as healthy fats are wonderful for reducing sugar cravings. Examples of healthy fats to include in your diet are olive oil, avocados, coconut oil, oily fish, ghee, nuts and seeds and the fat from grass fed meat.

Drink lots of water or herbal tea

It’s very important to stay well hydrated. Sugar and carbohydrate increase the production of hunger hormones; therefore you are likely to feel more hungry than usual for the next few days. Drinking water helps to reduce hunger. Squeezing a little lemon or lime juice into the water can help to fight sugar cravings. The acid isn’t brilliant for your tooth enamel, so you may want to drink through a straw to minimise contact of the acid with your teeth.

You might be suffering with anxiety or depression

People who feel calm and focused throughout the day rarely go off the rails or binge on sugar. Take a look inside and check if you are feeling overly stressed or anxious. If you are repeatedly sabotaging your weight loss efforts, it could be because you’re struggling with depression or anxiety. These conditions make it extremely difficult to be motivated to eat well and look after yourself. Depression is a terrible illness and significantly reduces quality of life and life potential. Thankfully there are some very effective treatments, as outlined in Dr Cabot’s book, Help for Depression and Anxiety.

Keep healthy snacks with you

If you are suddenly struck with strong cravings for something you know you shouldn’t be eating, it really helps to have a healthy alternative on hand. Having a healthy snack in the mid afternoon may prevent you from eating the whole kitchen when you return home in the evening. Examples of healthy snacks include nuts and seeds, a protein powder smoothie, hummus or guacamole with vegetable sticks or a boiled egg.

Try to get adequate sleep

Plenty of research has been done showing that people who don’t sleep enough have higher levels of hunger hormones in their body and are more likely to over eat or eat unhealthy foods. It is so much easier to prepare healthy meals, exercise regularly and generally look after yourself when you’ve had enough sleep and it has been good, refreshing sleep. If you struggle in the sleep department, see Dr Cabot’s book, Tired of Not Sleeping.

You could have an overgrowth of bad bugs and Candida in your gut

Having too many bad bugs in your bowel can drive sugar cravings. Candida overgrowth in your intestines can make you feel tired, irritable and give you a foggy head and poor concentration. It can also cause intense carbohydrate cravings. It’s a catch 22 – eating sugar promotes the growth of intestinal yeast and having too much yeast in your gut makes you crave sugar. Candida is a type of yeast that is naturally present in everyone’s digestive tract; however if your immune system is weak and your digestion is poor, Candida levels can get out of control. Because it is a yeast, it needs sugar in order to grow. Treating Candida overgrowth can be tough because many different foods we eat are digested into sugar eventually, and can potentially feed this yeast. Symptoms of excess Candida in the digestive tract include digestive discomfort (gas, bloating, diarrhoea), fatigue, headache, muscle and joint pain, blocked sinuses, sugar cravings, recurrent vaginal yeast infections, recurrent urinary tract infections, depression, foggy head and poor concentration, food and chemical sensitivities and sleep problems. Diet modifications and some nutritional and herbal supplements help to eradicate Candida.

Get some exercise each day, preferably outdoors

It doesn’t have to be anything grueling and exhausting; it could just be a gentle walk around the block or to the park. Getting some movement is a great way to clear your head, calm your mind and take your thoughts away from your troubles or your cravings. Even if you are feeling quite exhausted, a short and gentle walk can give you a burst of energy.

Just don’t eat sugar

The only people who crave nicotine are smokers and the only people who crave sugar are the ones who eat it. If you follow these recommendations and stick to a sugar free diet for at least three weeks, you’ll find it becomes easier and easier and you miss sugar less and less.