While fixing the root cause of your sugar cravings, a craving strikes. What do you do?
If you find yourself eating a chocolate bar (or other favourite guilty pleasure) feeling you have no power over your actions, you’re not alone!
As mentioned in my last article, sugar cravings can be tough to kick.
However, there are some pretty sweet strategies that’ll help you make healthier choices when a sugar cravings crisis strikes.
First, if you’re yet to determine the root cause of your sugar cravings, read this article, then come back.
Unfortunately, knowing the root cause doesn’t immediately resolve your cravings… I wish it were so!
Like with most things in life, there’s a period between getting clarity on what you want, and actually getting what you want.
When it comes to fixing a nutrient deficiency or resolving the stress in your life, these things take time.
You’re not weak, you’re simply a product of your biochemistry and habit!
Hence any sugar cravings in the meantime are totally normal.
Expect them and plan for them so you can make a healthier choice when they do strike.
6 emergency strategies to use in a sugar cravings crisis
So without further ado, below are 6 strategies you can use to curb your sugar cravings.
Keep a few of these up your sleeve, and you’ll skip the whole ‘will I, won’t I’ mind struggle, making the whole process be more enjoyable (and much sweeter, I’d say…).
1. Sweetness swap
Eat sweet vegetables such as carrots, parsnips, winter squash, sweet potatoes and onion to satisfy our body’s need for sweet taste (which is normal).
This can be a great stepping stone strategy to get off the refined sweet stuff.
Slicing up and roasting these veg can be a great way to curb cravings.
Sprinkle with a little cinnamon for added sweetness.
2. Balance out your palate with bitter foods
Did you know we only have 1 taste receptor for sugar, salt, umami and sour, yet 29 types of taste receptors for bitters?
We used to eat a lot more bitter foods, however as tastes have changed, mainly due to the introduction of sweet foods that cause a surge in serotonin and dopamine, we phased out many of the bitter foods in our diet.
In fact, we even farmed it out! Cruciferous vegetables like cabbage used to be much more bitter than they are now. We modified them to reduce their bitter taste, and as such, reduced some of their valuable medicinal properties.
Bitter foods make you more sensitive to sweet foods, helping you balance your palate out, meaning you’ll find many sugary products taste sickly sweet.
Try snacking on a few slices of bitter melon when a craving strikes, and eat some each day to bring your palate back into balance.
Bitter melon looks more like a wrinkly cucumber than a melon, and can be found in most supermarkets or Asian and African supermarkets.
Medicinal herbs like Gymnema Syvlestre can be used as a short term solution, which makes anything sweet taste unpleasant (you can get this from a naturopath).
I’d only suggest this if you really need it – as it will even block the sweetness in natural foods too!
3. Eat an egg
Boil up a few eggs and keep them handy for when cravings strike. And when they do, eat an egg.
Eggs can help reduce cravings because they contain an amino acid called glutamine that reduces cravings.
Not only will you get glutamine in the egg, you’ll also get protein and fat which can help curb cravings, and along with b-vitamins, will give you stable energy levels.
Glutamine is not only found in eggs, but beef, chicken, fish, cabbage, beetroot, beans, spinach, parsley, and dairy products.
Supplementing glutamine has also been shown to reduce sugar cravings pretty effectively.
4. Eat some fat
Fat, like sugar, triggers the reward pathway in your brain, so it can be helpful to switch to fat while still getting a nice release of dopamine and opioids that make you feel all happy and comforted.
So when a craving strikes, try a teaspoon of avocado or coconut oil (maybe added to one of the hot drinks from the next section…) or a handful of nuts like almonds, walnuts or Brazil nuts.
5. Have a self-care tea break instead
This is one of my favourite rituals that I used to replace eating sugary snacks that didn’t truly give me what I need – which was a little bit of self-caring sweetness, stress relief, warmth and nourishment.
Licorice tea is naturally very sweet, so can be a great starting point to get off sugary teas – or give you a sweetness hit without the sugar. Please avoid licorice if you have high blood pressure though.
Another tea I love is dandelion chai tea. I use a dandelion chai tea that has chicory root in it, which almost gives it a rich, chocolate-like flavour.
You can even make a latte out of it using your favourite milk (I prefer coconut milk).
As mentioned above, you can add a teaspoon of coconut oil instead of milk, so you’re getting a hit of fat to increase satiety and reduce cravings further.
Adding a teaspoon of coconut oil to green tea is also delicious and very effective at curbing cravings.
You can also try a cacao latte, which is a great source of magnesium that can curb cravings and give you some energy.
6. Retrain your brain
When you feel a craving, take a teaspoon of apple cider vinegar, or lemon juice.
The sour taste will send a signal to your brain that it isn’t getting what it wants (sugar), so the brain will give up sending the message.
This likely also happens with bitter melon too. Pretty neat, hey?
I hope these strategies help you quit refined sugar for good.
Because you deserve to feel energised and at home in your body, so you can squeeze the most out of life.
And life is infinitely sweeter when you’re healthy and wholly nourished.
To your health!
PS: In the next article, I share the evergrowing list of alternative names for sugar used in packaged foods, so you can become a super sugar sleuth when it comes to shopping…
PPS: I’d love to know – which strategies will you use to curb your sugar cravings? Let me know in the comments!
Melissa is a naturopathic nutritionist and coach who helps exhausted women get their energy back. She consults with people worldwide via the web from her home in Melbourne, Australia.