The American Heart Association recommends that women should limit their sugar intake to no more than 6 teaspoons of sugar each day and men should limit their sugar intake to no more than 9 teaspoons of sugar each day. Unfortunately, sugar is added to many of the ingredients in your refrigerator and pantry, including pasta sauces, energy bars, bread, yogurt and canned soup.
The risk of excess sugar consumption
When you consume sugar, your glucose levels rise quickly; however, they also plummet rapidly, leaving you craving more sugar, experiencing mood swings, headaches and fatigue. In addition to this, excess sugar consumption can harm your health in several ways, including:
• Accelerates Aging
• Bone problems
• Damage to the retina
• Decreased Immunity
• Gum Disease
• Heart Disease
• Increases Stress
• Kidney damage
• Mood Swings
• Nutritional Deficiencies
• Skin issues
• Tooth Decay
Why do you crave sugar?
When you do not consume enough calories or eat the wrong food items, your body craves sugar to help provide fast fuel. Artificial sweeteners can temporarily satisfy your sweet craving; however, it does not provide your body with the calories that it needs, which causes your sugar craving to flare up even more.
You are eating heavy starchy meals and not enough protein or fat. The calories from starches are metabolized quickly, which can leave you feeling hungry quickly. To help counteract this effect, add a little olive oil, a portion of lean protein and some veggies to help slow down your metabolism and prevent you from getting hungry and craving sugar soon after eating.
Another reason that you crave sweets is because of unhealthy snacking. Many people reach for a candy bar as an afternoon snack. Grabbing a candy bar or another sweet item as a snack can cause you to begin craving sugar at the same time each day. You can counteract this by enjoying a sweet cup of tea rather than a candy bar. This does not mean adding sugar to your tea. Instead look for a chai tea or use a little vanilla in your tea to help you overcome your craving.
Salty foods like processed food, chips, crackers and fries can cause you to crave sweets. To help decrease your sugar cravings, you should try to limit your consumption of salty foods. Instead, opt for all natural fresh fruits and vegetables instead of salty food.
Finally, even if you are craving sweets, opt for whole, clean foods rather than sweets or other unhealthy snacks. As you become more accustomed to choosing healthy meals and snacks, your sugar cravings will begin to diminish.
Let's take a look at the top foods that can help you overcome your sugar cravings.
1. Protein shakes – A protein-packed shake prevents insulin spikes, which can increase your need for sugar to increase energy levels.
2. Yogurt – Yogurt is rich in calcium and protein, which can help banish hunger and cravings. Enjoy yogurt alone or add it to a smoothie for a delicious snack or meal that will banish your craving for sugar.
3. Fruit – Fruit is naturally sweet and although it contains natural sugars, it also contains fiber which keeps you satisfied. Freeze some grapes or add a handful of berries into your yogurt for a delicious treat.
4. Legumes – Legumes increase your fullness and reduce cravings, thanks to their protein and fiber content.
5. Chia – Chia seeds contain omega 3 fatty acids that help the brain produce the serotonin and other neurotransmitters that help to regulate your appetite.
6. Dark chocolate – Dark chocolate along with delicious fruit can satisfy your sweet tooth and increase your nutrients. Dark chocolate contains fiber, B vitamins and magnesium.
7. Cinnamon – Cinnamon is naturally sweet and can stop sugar cravings in its tracks by controlling glucose levels.
8. Meat – Lean cuts of poultry, fish and meat helps to slow down how quickly you metabolize your food. This will help you feel fuller longer and may help to decrease your sugar cravings.
9. Herbal tea – Herbal tea with strong flavors like licorice, peppermint or ginger can instantly pick you up and help you avoid sugary snacks when your energy levels are declining.
10. Trail mix – Trail mix will include many delicious ingredients that are healthy and fulfill your sugar cravings naturally, including nuts and dried fruits.
11. Fermented foods – Fermented foods increase the beneficial bacteria in the intestines to help fight hunger, improve digestion and reduce food cravings.
12. Whole grains – Whole grains are rich in fiber, magnesium, phosphorus, selenium and B vitamins. These nutrients help to increase the production of neurotransmitters to help control sugar cravings.
13. Vegetables – Eating vegetables help you feel fuller longer and prevent hunger attacks, which can result in sugar cravings.
14. Coconut oil – Coconut oil is a healthy fat that provides the body with energy. The sweet taste of coconut oil along with the medium chain triglycerides can help reduce sugar cravings.
15. Spirulina – Spirulina contains tyrosine, an amino acid that encourages the release of norepinephrine and dopamine. Many people crave sweets when their dopamine levels are low. Adding spirulina to your diet may help to control cravings.
The National Institutes of Health reports that craving chocolate and other foods that are high in sugar and fat is quite common, especially in women. Researchers believe these cravings are often a physiological need for the alteration of neurotransmitters in those suffering from eating disorders or obesity. Learning which foods can help you overcome your sugar cravings is the first step towards relieving cravings for sugary foods.