by Caitlin Beale
It’s no secret that sugar isn’t great for us, but that doesn’t make sugar cravings any less real. Repeat after us: It’s not just about self-control. In fact, some scientists argue that sugar can be as addictive as cocaine because it activates the same pleasure and reward systems in your brain that keep you wanting more. Still, it is possible to curb sugar cravings with a few healthy hacks.
1. Drink some water.
We know that staying hydrated is crucial for good health. It may also boost your metabolism and support a healthy weight. And it can help with your sugar cravings. That’s because feeling thirsty and feeling hungry often feel similar.
Try it: The next time you’re in the mood for a cookie, reach for a glass of water instead. Make it a bit more fun by adding lemon slices or mint and investing in a water bottle you really love.
2. Spice things up.
Certain flavors can satisfy your need for something sweet without the sugar. Spices like cinnamon and vanilla, for example, can trick your brain into believing you are eating a treat. Bonus: Cinnamon also has the added benefit of helping with blood sugar balance.
Try it: Add cinnamon or vanilla to your oatmeal, smoothie, coffee, or tea instead of sugar.
3. Eat gut-healthy foods.
Your gut health impacts every part of your body — even your food choices! Amazingly, the type of bacteria present in your GI tract can influence your food cravings and even the amount of calories you take in from your food. Eating sugar can lead to an imbalance of so-called “bad” bacteria (called dysbiosis), perpetuating the cycle of sugar cravings.
Try it: Including probiotic-rich foods like yogurt, sauerkraut, or kimchi daily helps support your healthy bacteria and keep that optimal balance. But don’t forget about prebiotics, which are fiber-rich foods that act as fuel for your gut bacteria. Without them, your gut bacteria can’t thrive. Foods highest in prebiotics include artichokes, onions, garlic, dandelion greens, and apples.
Make a point to include at least one probiotic-rich and prebiotic-rich food in your diet daily. For example: For an afternoon snack, have a yogurt and an apple!
4. Make smart snack choices.
Speaking of snacks… While it may be tempting to reach for a sweet afternoon treat, choosing a snack with protein, fiber, and healthy fat is your best bet. These nutrients help keep you fuller longer, balance your blood sugar, and reduce your cravings. Plus, they taste delicious.
Try it: Veggies with hummus or mashed avocado make a satisfying snack, and you can add a hardboiled egg for extra protein. Nuts like walnuts or almonds are also excellent choices, especially if you are snacking on the go. Nuts are also a source of magnesium, which is an essential nutrient for blood sugar balance.
5. Have a cup of tea.
Drinking a cup of tea during that mid-afternoon slump isn’t exactly the same as noshing on your favorite chocolate, but certain teas can help fight sugar cravings.
Try it: Licorice tea is naturally sweet and may help with sugar cravings by reducing blood sugar spikes. Drinking chai tea also helps reduce sugar cravings while providing an added mood boost. And just the act of drinking tea gives your brain and mouth something else to focus on, so you think less about sugar.
A Final Note
Make sure your healthy diet leaves room for the occasional treat, so you don’t feel deprived. Over-restriction can lead to even more sugar cravings, so let yourself (mindfully) indulge every once in a while.