There is literally nothing worse when you’re trying to lose weight than having to deal with cravings– especially sugar cravings.
Sugars are carbs, but they’re simple and unhealthy carbs. Moreover, nearly everything we eat with added sugar is usually highly processed with added fats and unwanted preservatives.
So, what do you do when you’re trying to lose weight, and a sugar craving hits. The first thing to do is to understand why you’re craving sugars in the first place. When we eat sugars, our body rewards itself with a release of endorphins.
So, you got to ask yourself if you’re craving that sugary snack because you want a pat on the back?
Sugar cravings are more about our internal rewards, in much the same way drugs and alcohol are to addicts, rather than our body’s need for nutrition.
If this is why you’re craving sugar, then this is what you need to address.
Another reason we might crave sugar is habit. It’s highly unlikely that you remember being a baby, but the first taste we crave as human beings is sweet for some reason. Eating sugars and sweet things may come more from habit than anything else.
If you’re capable of having a bite or a piece, then there’s not likely going to be any harm done to your weight loss plan if you give in every now and then.
However, if you’re an emotional eater. or one of us who will take 10 bites if we take just one, then it’s probably best to stay away from sweets in general.
Regardless of whether you’re a champion of self-control or just human, there are several things you can do that will curb immediate cravings when they happen, prevent long-term cravings, and strengthen your will.
The thing is that none of these are permanent solutions nor will they work for everyone. Simply put, diminishing sugar cravings only really works over the long-term so it makes sense that fighting sugar cravings takes time.
In the short-term
Some things you can do that will minimize your cravings for sugar in the moment include:
• Drink a glass of water
• Change your scenery
• Give in with moderation
• Force yourself through the craving
Now, obviously no human being has the will of iron. You can force yourself through a craving once or twice—maybe a handful of times. The problem is that this behavior isn’t sustainable or really all that healthy.
Forcing yourself through a craving without giving in might work if you’re driving to an appointment or out where your pantry or the grocery store isn’t handy. The problem occurs at the next craving or the next. Trying to will yourself out of craving will only increase the likelihood that you eventually break and then binge.
On the other hand, giving in and having a single cookie isn’t likely to break your calorie, or fat count if you can stop at just one.
Indulging when you have a craving without bingeing will give your brain the reward it’s seeking and quiet your desires. The trick here is moderation. For some, this is easier said than done.
Another in the moment stop-gap you can deploy is to change your scenery. Take the dog for a walk or go for a run. Either activity will release endorphins which is one of the things your body is looking for. On the other hand, you can take a hot bath, or move to a different room. Instead of washing the dishes, go fold the laundry or clean the bathroom. Separate yourself from your pantry.
If you decide to take a bath, take a hot one. Not a cold or cool one. Also, take a bath. Not a shower. Make sure the water is just barely bearable and sit in the tub for a while. When you get out, you’ll experience a sort of euphoric, almost dazed, high. This doesn’t work for everyone in the strictest sense, but there’s no harm in trying it. At the very least, it’ll keep you busy.
To prevent sugar cravings in the long-term, some things you can do are:
• Cut added sugars from your diet all together.
• Minimize your lifestyle stress levels.
• Look for quality over quantity.
You’ve heard of crowd-out? By adding in healthy sweets like bananas, and berries you can push the unhealthy chocolate cakes and ice-cream sundaes out of your diet by adding in fiber rich sources of natural sugar. Also, look to avoid added sugars. Part of the reason we like the foods we do is that our taste buds are accustomed to them.
By cutting out added sugars all together, you can get that sugar out of your tongue and start enjoying naturally sweet foods more because they’ll essentially grow on you.
Also, check your stress levels. One of the reasons your body may be looking for that euphoric high or a reward may be stress. If you live with constant stress it may be time to google a few words:
• Live simply
• Enjoy life
Mostly, we’re just kidding here, but seriously… Check your stress levels. Like your diet, your stress level and lifestyle are cumulative. Neither exists in a vacuum.
Finally, if you’re not quite willing to give up sugars all together to lose weight, the maybe put quality over quantity. Think: Mississippi Mud Pie over Supersized candy Bar.
Reach for something that you have to go on an extra mile to get. Whether it’s driving 40 minutes to the only restaurant in your city, county, or state that serves your favorite desert or spending 3 hours making it from scratch you’re more likely to appreciate it more and savor the treat longer.
Moreover, if your brain gets accustomed to simply reaching for a sub-par candy bar, your craving might become more demanding than it would be for something you also have to work in some way for that’s of higher quality.