I get it! I love a little sweetness in my life, too! As babies, we were introduced to sweet tastes early with mother’s milk, bananas, sweet potato and apple sauce. So, it’s no wonder we think food tastes better when it is sweetened.
The problem is the added sugar, and it can hide in everything from salad dressing to bread to tomato sauce. It is difficult to avoid and there are other names to watch out for on a product’s label, other than just plain ‘sugar’.
When it comes to mindful and intuitive eating, it is important to know why you crave the sweets. Is it out of boredom? Are you sleepy and need a jolt of energy to keep you going? Did you skip a meal and your blood sugar is low?
Are you upset and find that you turn to sugar to make you feel good? Sugar does make you feel good, with a big release of dopamine and seratonin-the feel good hormones. This is why sugar is so addictive.
There are a few tools you can add to your toolbox to help curb those cravings. Enjoying a treat once in a while is rewarding, as long as that reward is consciously consumed and for the right reasons…
- Ditch the packaged foods with hidden sugars and go straight for fresh, whole foods. This will help to regulate blood sugar by preventing the blood glucose spikes and lows.
- Make sure you get in a healthy fat with each meal. This will keep you full for longer and help blunt that blood glucose. Try adding in avocado, a handful of nuts, and cook your food in coconut oil.
- Swap sugar, in your cooking, for spices and herbs like cinnamon, cloves, fresh mint and cardamom.
- Try frozen fruit instead of ice cream. Frozen grapes and Banana Nice Cream make great options. Sugar from fruit will still spike your blood glucose levels, but the fibre content will help slow it down.
- Include fermented foods to populate the good bacteria in your gut, boost your immune system, regulate your appetite and reduce sweet cravings. Your feel-good hormones are produced in your gut!
- Find some great distractions. A craving might only last 20 minutes, so have your toolbox full of quick fixes, like aromatherapy, 20 squats, walking the dog, reading the next chapter of your book, emptying the dishwasher, or folding the load of clean laundry that you’ve been putting off.
- Eat some protein to satisfy hunger and regulate blood sugar. Having some hard boiled eggs ready, a variety of nuts, or a scoop of unsweetened almond butter are great choices.
- Know your triggers and have a plan of action. Keep a mood journal, diet diary or cravings tracker, and map out when and why your sweet tooth acts up. You might find you crave sweets because you skipped a meal and your blood sugar is low, or you might find you turn to sugar when you are feeling upset. Knowing why is the first step.
- Get enough zzz’s. It is more likely that, when you wake up feeling unrested, you will grab for sugar to get you going in the morning, and throughout the day.
- Keep moving! Exercise reduces stress (a trigger for sugar cravings), boosts your energy so you don’t need sugar to keep you alert, and will keep that blood circulating so your body systems work together.
Where do you start? I would start with a diet diary, or food journal, so you can begin to map out the reason behind your cravings. Need some help figuring it out? Contact me to set up your personalized plan of action.