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Unsure how to quit sugar? I completely get it. Sugar is such a big addiction for most of us, but how great does it really make us feel? And how do we stop sugar cravings instantly?
I find I fall into a pattern where I crave sugar, then I eat something (e.g. chocolate) which tastes great in the moment, but no sooner than I’ve finished eating it, I regret it. I feel guilty, and then I start to feel a bit sick and then I wish I hadn’t eaten it. The whole thing makes it not worth the 2 minutes that I spent eating it!
How to Stop Sugar Cravings Instantly
Whilst our bodies need sugar in the form of glucose to function, according to holistic health coach Villy Tsvetkova, not all sugar is created equal!
Beneficial sugars such as whole fruits and veggies are totally different from processed/refined/added sugars present in sweet drinks, pastries, sweets, etc.
Sugar (large hits of it) lights up the reward pathway in the brain, which is responsible for motivation and repeated behaviour. It’s the same pathway that gets activated with addiction. Sugar addiction is real!
The cycle looks like this:
consumption→ Dopamine release→ reward→ pleasure→ motivation
Problem is, the more dopamine (a neurotransmitter in the brain) we release, the less we feel the *happy* effect, and the more we need to consume of the reward to get the same hit. The more processed sugar we eat, the more we want it and the higher amounts of it we need. It’s a cycle that is difficult to break.
Do we need a treat?
Why do we feel we need to treat ourselves with sugar or alcohol? “I’ve had a hard day. I need a treat,” or “My partner was rude to me. I need a treat.” And why do we associate a treat with food? Perhaps we need to rethink our treats from this mindset?
A treat should be a spa day, a facial, some type of self-care. If you really think about it, a treat should be a green juice as it nourishes our body and makes us feel so satisfied inside when we’ve finished it! When we’ve finished a bar of chocolate, we feel down, empty and regretful, so it’s crazy we keep putting ourselves through this cycle.
Related: Eating Our Feelings
Why Do We Do it
Sugar is an addiction. In fact, some studies show it’s as addictive as cocaine. Eating it is normally followed by feelings of guilt, shame, and desire to change. It’s a short-term fix that normally worsens mental health issues such as anxiety, sleep, and depression. So, it’s something we need to address. How do you quit sugar?
Below are my top 5 tips on how to quit sugar
I find that whenever I can’t think of what to have for lunch or dinner, I grab a load of rubbish. If I come home from work and want to eat something and there’s nothing prepared, I’m much more likely to grab a packet of crisps or something unhealthy.
The best thing I can do for myself is to have a food prep day on a Sunday. By spending this day preparing soup for my lunches that week, and maybe two main meals (e.g. a vegetable stew/curry), it prepares what I’m going to eat every day. I then write my menu on the fridge door to remind myself each day.
I also try to prepare some healthy snacks like raw balls, kale crisps, etc. This keeps me on the right track all week. Being prepared is key!
I used to wander aimlessly around the supermarket looking for inspiration, often coming out with no meals in the end. I now look through my cookbooks first, get some recipe ideas, write the ingredients down, and have a list of what I need. It has made my life so much easier.
Put simply, if there aren’t biscuits or sweets in the house, you are unlikely to go out and buy them. But, when they are there, staring at you from the cupboard, it’s hard to pass them up.
Retrain your taste buds
If you’ve been eating a lot of sugar, your taste buds will naturally be set to a sweet taste, so try to introduce a small number of bitter foods like kale or broccoli.
Increase these gradually, and you will be surprised how quickly your taste buds revert back to savoury. Start with one sprig of broccoli or two small carrots. Don’t overwhelm yourself with a plateful.
Studies show that by introducing a small number of healthy foods slowly makes them more appealing. Pretty foods are easier to eat, so you could try spiralizing a carrot or cucumber, or chop veggies and plate them in a pretty way.
Clear out the treat cupboard
It’s hard to know how to quit sugar when you’re surrounded by sweets. I do find after Christmas there are so many more treats lying around, and it’s so easy to help yourself to a quality street or mince pie every time you pass the kitchen.
Get rid of them or give them away! And next shopping trip, don’t buy biscuits or cakes, as these treats are the biggest enemy. They offer little or no nutritional value and mess up our blood sugar levels.
Try to swap for a healthier snack like oatcakes with some almond butter, sliced banana, or apple. You won’t get the instant satisfaction at first, but you won’t get the sinking disappointing feeling afterward either.
Eat more protein and healthy fats
The reason that many of us feel the energy crash mid-afternoon is because our blood sugar levels have been heightened by something we have eaten at lunchtime, and then they dropped back down dramatically.
By eating foods such as healthy fats and proteins we can stabilise these levels and sustain them so that we don’t experience the extreme highs and lows.
Eggs are a fantastic source of protein and are so versatile. Try scrambled or poached eggs for breakfast or a couple of hard-boiled eggs in your salad.
Avocados are a great choice too since they are one of the best sources of healthy fats available. Mash them on oatcakes or rye bread or even use them to bulk up your salad.
Lose the alcohol and get plenty of sleep
Nothing sets you up more for poor food choices than a hangover (even a mild one) and a bad night’s sleep. The two often go hand in hand. Alcohol may make us feel drowsier, but we have a much poorer quality sleep after a drink.
Even though we often fall asleep quicker after having a drink, we have a more disrupted sleep in the second half of the night. This causes disruptions in the REM sleep cycle which in turn causes drowsiness, poor concentration, and sweet cravings.
Sleep deprivation increases our desire for high-calorie foods, and studies show that often we eat twice as much when we are sleep deprived or hungover. I found a plant-based elixir that makes a great swap for alcohol!
Find the 7 Best Natural Products that help You Sleep here.
What Happens When You Quit Sugar
Remember you are going to feel pretty lousy the first few days or weeks of giving up sugar. This is perfectly normal. You may experience low moods, headaches, and low energy.
If you know it’s coming, you can prepare for it. Going for a walk or run will blast it off as will any type of self-care. Get some early nights, read a good book, have a bubble bath, and know these feelings will pass, and you will come out the other side healthier, happier, more positive, sleeping better and with glowing skin.
What’s not to like?
Knowing how to quit sugar is half the battle, and now you can start the path to improving your life.
Good luck! You’ve got this.
I hope this post helps you quit sugar and taught you how to stop sugar cravings instantly!
There are some great healthy recipes here if you need some inspiration.
|Natalie Shirlaw is passionate about healthy living and writes posts about wellbeing. If you enjoyed this article, be sure to pin it or share it!|