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Do you have a hard time having just one cookie?

Do you feel like you need a dessert after every meal?

Or maybe you suffer from brain fog and mood swings?

If this sounds like you, it’s possible that your sugar consumption might be a bit out of control. Today I’m sharing 12 ways to finally take control of your sugar cravings, and feel energized again.

First off, let’s talk about what sugar is.

What is sugar?

Sugars are carbohydrates, composed of carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen. Sugars come in a variety of forms, but can be distinguished easily (at least on paper) by their chemical structure. The main structures are monosaccharides, disaccharides, and polysaccharides.

Off paper, however, the distinction is not that easy to make. This is why, for the purpose of this article, we will be speaking about all categories of sugar: processed, refined sugar, and natural sugar.

Why is sugar to addictive?

First off, the natural sugar found in fruits and vegetables is beneficial because it supplies us with the glucose our body and cells need to function. Not only that, but fruits and and veggies come loaded with minerals, vitamins, fiber, and a whole slew of phytochemicals, such as polyphenols. However, industrial sources of sugar and carbohydrates, such as white or brown sugar, white flour, high fructose corn syrup, are void of these benefits, and take our blood sugar and insulin levels on a roller coaster ride, leading to cravings, and feeling sluggish and frazzled.

The truth is that refined sugars are highly addictive because they trigger our happy hormone dopamine when we ingest them. This is precisely why sugar can have such a stronghold on your life, whether you’re aware of it or not. Many people seek their next “fix” of sugar much like a drug addict seeks his or her next hit of cocaine. This is, of course, the dream of manufacturers: to get you hooked on their processed junk “food”!

How to take control of sugar cravings

Sugar cravings have many possible causes: blood sugar fluctuations, lack of nutrients, stress, dehydration, in addition to past and childhood eating patterns that often associate eating sugar with love or nostalgia.

The first step to dealing effectively with your sugar cravings or addiction is to acknowledge that you have a problem.

Remember, processed sugar is designed to get us hooked. This is why so many of us have such a hard time controlling ourselves. But it doesn’t have to be this way.

So, first off, start writing down every time you eat sugar so that you can’t fool yourself. Once you get clear about how much processed sugar you’re actually consuming, and then make a conscious decision to be more mindful, you’ll be on your way to breaking free from this food addiction. Examining and addressing your cravings is a powerful way to up-level your health and general sense of well-being.

Next, here are my top tips for tackling your sugar cravings, for good.

12 Ways to Curb Sugar Cravings

  1. Reduce or eliminate caffeine. The ups and downs of caffeine include dehydration and blood sugar swings which may cause sugar cravings.
  2. Drink water. Often sweet cravings are a sign of dehydration. Before you go for a cupcake or cookie, have a glass of water and wait a few minutes to see how you feel. Also, if you haven’t already, it’s also a smart idea to swap your sodas and industrial fruit juices for pure water. Add a couple slices of lemon or cucumber in there and voilà you’ve got a cleansing and hydrating beverage.
  3. Eat naturally sweet vegetables and fruit. This will help you gently crowd out your sugar cravings. Some options include dates, prunes, watermelon, pineapple, sweet potatoes, squash, carrots, beets.
  4. Avoid chemicalized, artificial sweeteners and foods with added sugar. Instead use gentle sweeteners like dates, date sugar, date syrup, dried fruit, blackstrap molasses, maple syrup.
  5. Get physically active. Start with simple activities like walking and yoga. Start with 10 minutes a day and gradually increase. Being active helps to balance blood sugar levels, boost energy, and reduce tension, decreasing the likelihood that you’ll want to self-medicate with sugar.
  6. Get more sleep, rest, and relaxation. Simple carbohydrates, such as sugar, are the most readily-available source of energy for an exhausted body and mind. If you’re in a state of chronic stress and/or sleep deprivation, your body will crave the quickest form of energy available – sugar.
  7. Evaluate the amount of animal food you eat. According to yin-yang principles of eating (such as Macrobiotics and Traditional Chinese Medicine), eating too much animal food (yang) can lead to cravings for sweets (yin).
  8. Eliminate “fat-free” or “low-fat” packaged snack foods. These foods contain high quantities of sugar to compensate for lack of flavor and fat, which will send you on a roller coaster ride of sugar highs and lows.
  9. Experiment with spices. Coriander, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, and cardamom will naturally sweeten your food and reduce cravings.
  10. Slow down and find sweetness in non-food ways! Cravings almost always have a psychological component. By identifying the underlying causes of food cravings and making lifestyle adjustments accordingly, you can balance and take charge of your health. When life itself becomes sweet, excess sugar isn’t needed!
  11. Eat berries regularly. Berries are often considered to be the most nutritious fruit. They are packed with soluble fiber, fruit phytonutrients, and polyphenols that can block the uptake of sugar in your digestive tract, and avoid insulin spikes. Adding berries can be a successful strategy to blunt the insulin spikes that result from eating high glycemic index foods.
  12. Eat beans, peas, and lentils. Beans have an extremely low glycemic index. Consuming legumes helps regulate your blood sugar in what is known as the “second meal effect”, due to the high fiber content and the way they feed out beneficial gut bacteria. Not only that, but legumes can actually make you live longer.

Implementing these strategies can help you keep your sweet tooth under control or even get rid of it all together. Of course, this does not mean that you cannot enjoy a sweet treat once in while! Once you get your cravings in check, you’ll be more in control, and more able to savor each bite mindfully.

Is it time to kiss your sugar addiction goodbye?