Every week we feature a reader question in addition to our weekend links. This week’s question is from an anonymous reader, but it’s one we get quite frequently!
Sugar Cravings and Solutions
I am looking for something for sugar cravings. Do you have any recommendations? I crave sugar all the time. I can say I am not hungry but place some sweet in front of me I will eat more than one.
Sugar cravings are a common problem. Many people who are starting to make some transitions in their diet will end up struggling the most with their sugar cravings, and wanting to eat candy and junk food because of it.
Sugar cravings can be rooted in a number of different things:
- Low blood sugar
- Under-eating/low metabolism
- Yeast overgrowth
- Unhealthy gut flora
- Lack of fat in the diet
- Addiction to sugar
It is often more than one of these things, maybe even all of them! Sugar actually does cause an addiction in the brain, not unlike drugs. It makes people feel good and they literally crave more of it.
There are some steps to take to get rid of sugar cravings. They are not easy, especially if you have struggled for quite some time.
First, say no more. If you are addicted, you will not be able to stop with a small amount. You will want to keep going…so why tempt yourself at all? Vow that on a certain day, you will be going sugar-free for a period of time.
Second, find a healthy substitute. I suggest starting your day with a fruit smoothie (made with naturally sweet fruits like pineapple and mango, plus berries, greens, etc. — do not use any form of sugar to sweeten) and add lots of plain yogurt or kefir. The lightly, naturally sweet taste is soothing, does not have the same effect that HFCS or white sugar do, and the probiotics from the yogurt or kefir will help the gut. Extra fat is a good idea too — add some coconut oil to the smoothie or have some breakfast cheese or meat. I like to make uncured bacon and eggs to go with the smoothie. Fill up on protein and fat and eat as much as you want. You might also choose to keep fresh fruit around, or a savory snack you really enjoy (even if it’s not the healthiest — baby steps!).
Third, up the probiotics big time. Try to consume some at every meal — sauerkraut, fermented pickles, water or milk kefir, kombucha, etc. Or, take a supplement if you prefer.
Fourth, expect some headaches and combat them naturally. The first few days to a week will be especially hard as you keep craving sugar. Try some lavender or peppermint essential oil for headaches, or take a warm bath with Epsom salts. The magnesium can help cravings and the bath and magnesium can relieve headaches. You may need to add some supplements in — sugar is an anti-nutrient and pulls calcium, magnesium, B vitamins, and others away from your body. I like to use herbal teas or a liquid herbal multivitamin (which, itself, is sweet — unless you choose to use vinegar to extract!).
Fifth, use natural sweeteners. These don’t seem to cause sugar cravings quite as badly. Honey and maple syrup are excellent choices and many like to use unrefined stevia as well. Very lightly sweetened tea is a nice “treat.”
Over time, your symptoms will ease. It will probably always be true that if you indulge, you will want more — so keep indulgences to special occasions. If you’re at a birthday party or something, have a piece of cake. Just don’t take any extras home with you!
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