To control your sugar cravings, you must first understand your sugar addiction. In much
the same way a smoker needs a cigarette or an alcoholic needs a drink, a person addicted to
sugar must have sugar often delivered in the form of candy, donuts, cookies or some similar
sweet snack or dessert.
When you eat (or drink) sugar it causes a release of hormones resulting in a chemical
reaction within your brain. This reaction produces a satisfying feeling of “happiness” much like
that of illicit drugs. Stress, sadness and strong emotions stimulate your brain and create a need,
desire or craving for sugar to produce this happy feeling. You may have experienced these
cravings for ice cream, cake or candy when you were stressed, sad or depressed. These
cravings are due in part to your emotional attachment to these foods and memories of happy
celebrations, but the physical cravings are the result of your addiction to sugar.
Here are three tips to help you control your sugar cravings and help break your addiction:
1. Keep Your Blood Sugar Stable – This is best accomplished by not skipping meals and
eating smaller, healthier and more frequent meals. If you skip meals or go more than four hours
without eating, your blood sugar can drop dramatically and creates a physical need for calories
and sugar. Eating a healthy, balanced meal or snack of lean protein and complex carbohydrates
will prevent the swings and peaks and valleys in your blood sugar. Don’t skip breakfast, eat
a nutritious breakfast, it will set the tone for the day and help prevent and curb sugar cravings
later in the day.
2. Manage Your Stress – Unresolved stress produces the hormone cortisol which fuels strong
sugar cravings. When you give in to your cravings, the sugar activates the release of the
hormone serotonin, similar to opiates in the brain that not only makes you feel “happy” but also
increases your appetite. Stress leads to stress eating (usually sugar) and often then leads to
binge eating. Learn to manage your stress through meditation or exercise like yoga or Pilates.
3. Keep A Food Journal – A simple food diary or journal can be invaluable in breaking your
sugar addiction and cravings. Your journal will help you identify the situations or emotions
that trigger your sugar cravings and eating patterns. Once you begin to observe and record
your eating habits, you can minimize times between meals and identify which situations trigger
your need for sweet “comfort” foods.
Be aware that most artificial sweeteners are not a safe alternative to sugar. Many contain
only chemicals made in a laboratory and most are much more potent than the sugar they are
designed to replace. This potency leads to an over stimulation of your brain’s sugar receptors
and actually increases your sugar cravings and appetite leading to overeating. Look for
natural sugar substitutes and use them sparingly