If you want to start eating healthier, cutting out refined sugar is a great place to start. Sugar has been linked to obesity and tooth decay. Fortunately, if you start a search online, you can find effective ways to eliminate your sugar cravings.
Sugar is suspected to be linked with a ton of other serious diseases like dementia and cardiovascular disease. Here are a few ways you can start to improve your diet. Remember, the first 3 days are usually the worst!
Go cold turkey
Some people find that they’re able to quit sugar cold turkey. If you’re one of these people, congratulations! You’ve done what many find that they’re completely unable to do.
If you want to try quitting refined sugar cold turkey, it’s important that for the first 72 hours you eat no form of refined sugar — this means not just candy or soda, but stuff like fruit or white bread as well. After the first 72 hours, many people find that their withdrawal symptoms ease off, and they feel able to reintroduce some sugar in small quantities.
Mix it with protein or healthy fats
Another way to wean yourself off sugar is to mix it with other food. For example, if you’re feeling like you want some chocolate, go ahead and eat some — but first, mix it with some food that’s healthier for you, like fruit or nuts.
Dipping an orange in chocolate sauce, or grabbing a small handful of chocolate chips mixed in with some raisins or almonds will help fill you up and give you some necessary protein and fiber along with the chocolate.
Go small — think under 150 calories
When you’re first weaning yourself off refined sugar, it can be hard to quit outright. The next time you find that you’re craving sugar, reach for a small treat instead of a large serving.
This means grabbing a Halloween size chocolate bar instead of a full-size one, or a single truffle instead of a whole cupcake. After a while, you’ll find that your cravings are satisfied with less and less.
Avoid being tempted
If you know that the break room will be full of cake because it’s someone’s birthday today, do yourself a favor and just don’t go in there! If you know that your weakness is the doughnuts from the bakery around the corner, choose to walk the other way.
The worst thing you can do to yourself is put yourself willingly in the path of temptation. By keeping your favorite sweets out of sight, you can keep them out of mind.
Reset your expectations
Many people have grown up expecting dessert to come after every meal. This makes it extremely difficult to put down the fork and walk away from a meal without it — it can make even the best dinner feel incomplete.
If you’re trying to cut out sugar from your diet, but you still expect dessert, treat yourself to something else instead. A small cheese course, or a nice glass of wine could be just the indulgence you’re looking for at the end of dinner.
Chew some gum
Chewing sugarless gum has been proven to help some people combat their sugar cravings. There has been research showing that chewing gum helps distract people from their food cravings, and there’s no reason why it shouldn’t work with your sugar craving as well.
Just make sure you’re actually reaching for a sugarless variety of gum. They make tons of different kinds now that are sweetened with xylitol, a synthetic sweetener.
Nothing makes you crave your favorite sweets more than if you’re hungry and tired from skipping a meal. Forgetting to eat is truly the fastest way to make unhealthy food choices.
By keeping your blood sugar steady, you ensure that you’re never going to make impulsive choices that you’d never give in to otherwise. The whole reason why they keep the candy bars at the cash register is because they know that if you’re standing there hungry, you’re way more likely to grab one to eat immediately instead of waiting to cook the food that’s in your cart.
Choose fruit instead
Picking up an apple or a banana when you’re craving sweets is a way healthier option than picking something chock-full of unhealthy fat in addition to the sugar. While most fruit is high in sugar, its other benefits balance it out.
Fruit gives you a ton of fiber, and other nutrients that you just won’t get from eating a slice of cake. And no — strawberry shortcake doesn’t count as a fruit.
Stay away from artificial sweeteners
Artificial sweeteners like aspartame are found all over the country in products labelled ‘light’ or ‘diet’. While it’s true that sugar can be unhealthy, these artificial sweeteners have a much more uncertain history.
The patent for aspartame was revoked once by the Food and Drug Administration because of newly found problems with their testing methods. Although it is still widely available, new research is showing that it is possibly responsible for recurring migraines in some test subjects.
Plan out your diet
Planning out your meals once a week can be a lifesaver if your schedule is too packed to make healthy decisions on the go. By planning out what your meals will look like each week (even if you don’t actually prep them that day) will help you stick to your guns when it comes to sugar cravings.
If you’re hungry, you’ll be way less tempted to reach for a sugary treat if you know that you have one of your favorite dinners waiting for you at home.
Go for quality over quantity
The next time you’re really craving something sweet, try to satisfy that craving with a high-quality treat instead of just picking up the closest thing to you that contains sugar. That way, you’ll associate your cravings with something indulgent, and not want to indulge too often so as to preserve the “specialness” of the snack.
If you curb your craving with the cheapest grocery store snack, you won’t see it as a treat and will keep going back for more. For example, reward yourself with a square of high-quality dark chocolate, or a small cup of artisan gelato instead of a massive slice of cake or a candy bar.
Drink lots of water
Often, when we feel hungry, it’s just our brain telling us that we’re dehydrated. Many people find that they don’t eat as much at a meal when they’ve had a large glass of water right before they start eating.
The next time you’re craving something sweet, or if you’re just about to give in to your sweet tooth, gulp down a big glass of water. Even if you’ve already decided to indulge in some sugar, drinking water beforehand will help fill you up so you don’t eat as much.
Eat some dairy first
Have you ever been hit with a massive sugar craving in the late afternoon? You’re not alone. Many people find that between the hours of 3 pm and 4pm is when their sugar cravings are at their worst.
Research has shown that eating a small amount of dairy in the late morning or early afternoon will help lessen the severity of your sugar cravings later. This is because dairy contains tryptophan, which triggers your brain to feel calm in the same way sugar does.
Get excited about eating healthy
Part of the reason why it’s so hard to stay on track with a newer, healthier diet is simply because you don’t know enough about the new foods you’re eating. If you want to eat healthier, the best way to do that is by starting with research.
Gather some info, then start experimenting in the kitchen. You may find that your new favorite food is chia seeds, or seaweed!
Talk to friends and get some support
A lot of the time, people crave sugar because it makes them feel calmer, more relaxed, and satisfied. If you’re trying to remove sugar from your diet, it will be easier if you first look at why you’re craving those feelings in your life.
Maybe your job is stressing you out, or maybe you’re feeling a lot of uncertainty in your relationship. Deal with those emotional triggers first, and you’ll find it’s a lot easier to manage your food cravings.