Sugar is one of the most common cravings. I mean, we’ve all experienced them at some point.
And I know how frustrating it can be to have this constant pull towards sugar and sweets, when we know its doing us no good!
So if you want to improve your skin, energy, and gut health (or simply think your sugar intake is getting a little out of control), I have 8 tips for you, on how to reduce your sugar cravings.
Reduce Sugar Cravings Naturally
1. Eat more leafy greens
- green smoothies
- stir fries
Not only do leafy greens have magnesium (of which lack of can trigger cravings), but they also have lots of B vitamins, which help reduce feelings of stress (another reason we might reach for the sweets).
2. Make sure you’re eating ENOUGH, and of nutrient-dense foods
There are many causes of UNDER-eating, one of which is restricting calories too much (especially when coupled with high intensity training). And if we’re not intentional about getting nutrients in the food we eat, this can lead to more cravings, since your body is not getting what it needs to thrive. Of course sugar is usually near the top of those cravings!
3. Eat Enough Whole Food Sources of Carbs
If we’re not giving our body the carbs it needs to thrive, then we usually crave any and all carbs…..including that box of donuts.
So make sure you’re eating enough “good” carbs for your body, activity level, etc.
- sweet potato
- butternut squash
- spaghetti squash
4. Supplement with magnesium
This also goes along with eating a nutrient-rich diet, with lots of leafy greens. But sometimes our bodies need a little extra boost in the minerals department.
There are different forms of magnesium. Magnesium chloride (used in magnesium oil), which is applied topically, will be absorbed the best. Magnesium glycinate will be best absorbed form when it comes to oral supplementation.
My favorite is this Homemade Magnesium Oil Spray, which I use every night before bed.
5. Get plenty of quality sleep
I’ve already talked about why sleep is so important HERE. Suffice to say, countless studies have been done on how sleep affects what we eat and what we crave. You may have noticed times when your own lack of sleep was followed by increased cravings, less motivation, or lack of energy. All of these can lead to eating more sugar. Not that they HAVE to. But its hard to say no to sugar, when your energy and mood are tanking.
6. Use essential oils and herbs
Parsley has been traditionally used as a palate cleanser after meals, and as such, can help reduce cravings in general. Chewing fennel seeds are also known to help cleanse the palate, freshen breathe, and thus help with cravings. Plus, I hear they’re pretty tasty. 🙂
And while they’re not necessarily a magic bullet, here are some essential oils known to help with cravings:
Simply open the bottle and take a whiff, or apply topically (properly diluted, of course).
7. Replace old habits with new
Take a look at when you crave sweets the most (is it during certain events? After a stressful situation?). Replace that brownie habit (or whatever it is for you) with something more beneficial, such as a nice walk with your favorite podcast. That way you wire your brain and body to relax and find enjoyment outside of the brownie pan. This will help reduce any cravings that are triggered by habit or routine.
8. Boost your dopamine/manage stress
Dopamine is a chemical that acts as a neurotransmitter in our brain. When dopamine is released in our body, it gives us that “feel good” feeling. This is perfectly normal in a healthy body, but we have to understand that this can also make us want more sugar (since this is one of the things that triggers dopamine release). Chronic stress ALSO makes us crave more sugar.
To boost your dopamine AND reduce stress, do something every day, that you enjoy or absolutely love. Oftentimes we turn to sweets (and even food in general) as a source of enjoyment, relaxation, and pleasure. There’s nothing wrong with taking pleasure in God’s good gifts. But it’s beneficial to our health (and waistlines 😉 ) to intentionally cultivate that joy and pleasure with activities other than food.
There’s another side to reducing our cravings.
And that is: satisfying our cravings.
Craving something sweet is natural, and we shouldn’t try to ward off ANY and ALL cravings. Sometimes our cravings are a signal that we’re lacking in something, whether that’s nutritional, or emotional.
So while reducing our cravings is great, we also need to find healthy alternatives to satisfy them.
How To Satisfy Sugar Cravings, without Diving Headfirst into the Cookie Jar
1. Eat Sweet Vegetables
- sweet potatoes
- butternut squash
So, roasted sweet potato with almond butter and cinnamon, is THE BOMB. End of story.
2. Appreciate the sweetness naturally found in whole foods
- almonds & cashews
Slather on the cinnamon!
3. Do Something Everyday that You Love
I know I mentioned this before. This can be a preemptive strike against sugar cravings. When the cravings DO come, its helpful to recognize when they’re stemming from a lack of joy and pleasure in our lives, and then find something other than sugar to fill that.
4. Indulge in fresh fruit
Fruit juice and dried fruit don’t count.
Obviously, the goal is not to binge on bananas and consider ourselves nutritionally balanced. ALL forms of sugar (fruit included) should be considered when we look at our overall “sugars” intake, because too much sugar even from fruit sources, can lead to that vicious cycle of wanting more and more AND MORE…..
That being said, fruit is usually not the “problem child” here. It certainly has its place in satisfying our need for sweet. Having a banana is going to be way better for your health, than diving into a jar of cookies.
So, to recap, here are strategies for taming the “sugar demon”.
- eat lots of nutrient-dense foods, like leafy greens, healthy fats and fruit
- get plenty of sleep
- do something you love everyday
- experiment with herbs and essential oils
- supplement with magnesium
How about you? What helps you reduce YOUR sugar cravings?
Extra Resources for Ditching Sugar:
- 21-day Sugar Detox book and program
- Made to Crave by Lysa Terkeurst
- Sugar Impact Diet book by JJ Virgin
- Play and Pleasure as the New Sugar Substitute (JJ Virgin podcast, episode 140)