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Reduce sugar cravings, how to find the sweet spot and have a healthy relationship with sugar?

Food cravings are exceptionally common; often, these cravings are for specific foods, including foods high in sugar, salt or fats. There are several physiological and psychological reasons for food cravings; fluctuations and disruptions in hormones, excess cortisol caused by chronic stress, and an overgrowth of yeast that thrives on sugar, to name just a few. I’m here to address how to reduce and potentially remove these sweet sugary cravings altogether and stabilise your blood sugar and insulin levels.

My top tips;

Building your plate optimally; is one of the essential foundations for supporting a healthy and balanced diet. Ensuring the correct ratio and portions of macronutrients like Fibre, Protein and Healthy Fats is critical to your health and nutrition goals. Your meals should be designed to achieve the most nutrient-dense, whole-food source options. Plant-rich meals, including healthy fats, are a fabulous place to start. This will go a long way towards stabilising your blood sugar levels and having you feel satiated for longer—all good news when trying to avoid sweet cravings or snacking.

Avoid restricting or obsessing over calories; Rather, I suggest focusing on a balanced diet of the most nutrient-dense whole foods. If we focus on cutting calories, we tend to feel deprived and unsatisfied, which fuels the urge to snack, binge, and give in to these sweet cravings more often. This isn’t simply a matter of little to no willpower but rather a failure of the diet culture. You are far better off learning how to build your meals to include higher calories if they make you satisfied and feel fuller for longer. Deprivation and hunger will likely always lead to overeating. Consider the big picture.

Improve your Gut Health; an imbalance in microbes in your gut health can significantly influence food cravings. One specific example, if intestinal or vaginal bacteria are out of balance, yeasts like Candida can flourish. An overgrowth of yeast in the intestine (or system-wide) can cause intense sugar cravings, fatigue, fuzzy thinking and digestive issues. (1.) Taking a good quality pre/probiotic, eating fermented foods, cultured dairy, and meat stocks or eating yeast-free temporarily helps reclaim healthy bacterial balance and eliminates the sugar-hungry bacteria that need sugar/refined carbohydrates to survive these changes will all go a long way to improving overall gut health.

Including cinnamon in your meals; has been proven to help lower fasting blood glucose. (2.) Cinnamon is a rich botanical source of polyphenolics used for centuries in Chinese medicine. For a long time, our ancestors have been using it as a remedy for respiratory and digestive ailments. (3.) This diverse and flavourful spice is a beautiful addition to smoothies, breakfast bowls, stews and slow-cooked meats and roasted vegetables. The options are limitless. With a balanced diet, try adding cinnamon to your meals to help lower blood sugar levels and support better blood sugar control.

Maintain your hydration levels; It is possible to mistake hunger for thirst. (4.) Whilst the research about a direct correlation is limited, it is plausible that a person could mistake the feelings of dehydration (headache fatigue, etc.) for feelings associated with hunger. By remaining hydrated and practising intuitive eating, you will more easily identify between dehydration and hunger.

Prepare yourself for the cravings; if we know anything in life, things fall apart when we are caught off guard or ill-prepared. The first thing I consider when preparing to avoid sugar cravings is that I can’t have what I don’t have, right? If your house is free from temptation, you are one step further away from giving in to the sweet craving. For some people, this may extend beyond the fridge and pantry and mean deleting an uber eats app, so an overpriced ice cream delivery isn’t an option. Prepare yourself for a change of scenery. If 3.30 pm rolls around and your sugar cravings peak, change what you are doing, go for a short walk, move your body, get a glass of water or even call a friend. Don’t underestimate a change of scenery or a break in routine. If evening time is your biggest challenge while watching tv or scrolling Instagram, maybe go to bed earlier with a book, or do a pre-bed yoga or meditation session. Commit to something outside your regular routine that positively influences your mood and changes your habits.

Have the thing; Further to avoiding sweet cravings, what if sometimes we just decided to permit ourselves the opportunity to satisfy the itch? After all, sometimes we fancy a sweet treat, and it’s as simple as that.  Developing a healthy relationship with all kinds of foods is essential. Switching out an ultra-processed food for an indulgent but healthier option may also satisfy the craving. Whichever you choose, enjoy it and move on. There is no space here for guilt. This point should be considered in line with your symptom picture and health goals.

Some of my healthier go-to options to satisfy a sweet craving.

Fresh fruit & coconut yoghurt

85% cacao dark chocolate

Honey in a cup of herbal tea

Nut butter bombs

Greek or coconut yoghurt, honey and seeds

A handful of seasonal berries

Where are you at? Last but equally important is to take stock of the big picture. Lifestyle factors like poor sleep, unhealthy levels of stress and inadequate exercise can all significantly impact our dietary habits and overall health. There is much research to attribute lifestyle factors to many people’s health outcomes and symptoms. When I’m tired, stressed and sedentary for long periods, I find myself scouting the fridge and pantry more frequently and making poor food choices. I don’t want to oversimplify this final point and say, “get more sleep, reduce stress, and move more”. I realise there is likely far more to consider, but change is not hopeless. Only you can shift and influence how these contributing factors are or are not working in your favour, pay attention and seek help if needed.

Big Love

KM xx


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