Find yourself reaching out for that bar of chocolate after every meal or can’t resist gorging on the box of sweets. Sugar cravings are an individual’s worst nightmare if they are trying to improve their immunity and keep their health in check.
Longing for sugar laden foods more than often could be due to many reasons, let’s have a look at some of them:
- Sugar Addiction – When you taste sugar, your tongues taste receptors are activated and signals are sent to the brain, spiking the dopamine levels: your reward system. This reinforces the desire to have more.
- Dehydration – Very often we misinterpret body’s signal of thirst with hunger which can trigger cravings and we often reach out to food instead.
- Restrictive Diet – If you are on a restrictive meal plan or have a tendency to skip meals, your body tends to crave for sugar due to the peak and drops in your blood sugar levels.
Now that we are aware of why we would be craving for sugar, let’s take a look at some practical strategies that we could use to tackle with them smartly.
- Enhance you meals with protein: Adding protein rich foods like pulses, cottage cheese, curd and lean meat to your main meals will not only improve the nutrition quotient but also keep you satiated for a longer time by keeping your sugar levels stable.
- Keep your meals regular and balanced: Eating nutrient dense meals at regular interval will help in avoiding blood sugar spikes and ensure an intake of variety of nutrients.
- Reach for a seasonal fruit: Fruits are rich in natural sugars that can help you tackle your sweet cravings wisely. Pair a fruit with a handful of nuts or seeds as a good mid- morning or an early evening snack before 5 pm. Nuts help you absorb the fat soluble vitamins present in these fruits.
- Hydrate through the day: Sipping water through the day especially in the gap between two meals keeps you well hydrated and avoids sugar cravings. Infused water with herbs or spices such as basil, mint, cinnamon bark or lavender pods can be used instead of juices or drinks.
- Indulge at times but be mindful: If it’s one of those days where the cravings are taking over, give in but be mindful with your choices and portion sizes. A piece of dark chocolate, homemade dried fruit, nuts and seed based energy bites or a small pot of homemade yogurt mixed with a few berries or a teaspoon of nut butter will do no harm once a week.
- Reduce your processed/packaged food intake: Be wise and turn the packet to check the nutrition label for sugar content. Apart from sweets and desserts, foods like bottles tomato ketchup, pickles, fruit juices and aerated drinks, dried fruit mixes or canned fruits, packaged yogurts or packaged granola bars all contain sugar and only add to empty calories.
- De-stress: High stress levels can increase the cortisol levels of the body which can heighten cravings especially for sugary or fried foods. Practicing breathing exercises, indulging in a hobby of your choice to distress.