With the holidays behind us, we are probably finding ourselves in one of two categories: totally sick of sweets, or sugar cravings galore! Some people consume sweets at the holidays and then have no problem resisting them the rest of the year. For a lot of people, however, sugar cravings are stronger than ever. The over-consumption at the holidays actually ramps up that “sweet tooth,” and you may find yourself unable to satisfy those cravings. If you’re someone who tends to go for the sweet treats, don’t feel like you have to give everything up cold turkey. Instead, try a few small modifications that will drastically cut down on the sugar consumption but not leave you feeling totally deprived:
Mix it up! Sugar consumption makes us crave more sugar because one, it triggers dopamine release in the brain (which makes us feel good) and two, it leads to a spike of insulin and then subsequent drop (which leaves us craving more to get our energy levels back up). Instead of having something that is straight sugar, add a small amount of something sweet to a healthier snack (like chocolate chips in a trail mix with nuts). The combination of salty, sweet, and healthy fat can satisfy your craving while also providing nutrients to help you feel satiated.
Don’t drink your sugar! Coffee and tea (unless unsweetened), sports drinks, juice, and soda are all loaded with sugar! By swapping your sugar beverages for unsweetened options like water, tea, or black coffee (or cream only), you will be cutting out massive amounts of sugar. If these drinks are where you satisfy your sweet tooth, then treat them like what they are…a treat! An occasional sweetened coffee beverage or sports drink is fine, but drinking these things all day everyday will certainly lead to issues and continue to fuel your sugar addiction.
Get fruity! Fruit is a great source of natural sugary sweetness. But unlike processed sweets, fruit is also packed with nutrients, antioxidants, and fiber! Keep some fruit on hand to grab a handful when you find yourself wanting something sweet. As a dessert swap, try drizzling berries with some melted dark chocolate and topping with some whipped cream!
Get out of the house! If you have a hard time resisting sweet treats, then don’t set yourself up for failure by keeping them in the house! Swap where you eat your treats! If you really want something sweet, make it an activity of going out for ice cream or visiting a local bakery. This way you can get one serving and won’t be tempted to keep going back to the pantry for more.
Enjoy, and then move on! When we try to follow incredibly restrictive diets, we often develop a negative relationship with food. Allowing yourself the occasional treat as part of an overall healthy lifestyle will let you enjoy and then continue on with your life. Feeling guilty or punishing yourself by restricting food may just lead to eating more later on. Listen to your body! Adjust your mindset around food. If you eat a balanced diet and choose foods that will fuel your body with good quality energy, the occasional sweet treat will not be detrimental. You may even find yourself craving less sugar as you adopt a healthier diet in general!
It can be difficult to choose healthy foods and limit the sugary treats. But remember, food is what fuels your body. Making some small changes to your lifestyle can greatly reduce the amount of sugar you consume and increase the quality of your life! Don’t feel like you have to make these changes on your own! If you’re overwhelmed about where to start or need someone to help hold you accountable, don’t hesitate to reach out! We are here to help you Get Healthy and Stay Healthy for Life!