Is sugar the only thing that gets you through the afternoon slump? Do you fall face-first into a tub of Ben & Jerry’s after every stressful day?
You’re probably addicted to sugar. It’s not your fault, really. Sugary foods muck with your brain and make you crave even more!
Luckily, nutritional therapist and I Quit Sugar: 8-Week Program expert Laura de la Harpe has some excellent advice on stopping sugar cravings in their tracks, so you can quit the sweet stuff for good!
1. Crowd it out.
Fill up on veggies, proteins and good fats at each meal so there’s little room left for much else.
“The satiety receptors in the brain for protein and fats work faster than sugar, so we feel full and satisfied more quickly and remain that way for longer,” says Laura. “We don’t get blood sugar crashes from them either, so they don’t lead to more cravings.”
2. Load up on vanilla.
Did you hear the one about sniffing vanilla essence to beat sugar cravings? It’s no joke!
According to Laura, “Vanilla has been proven to curb cravings for sugar, by tricking your senses into thinking that the craving has been satisfied.” Who’d have thunk?
3. Form new habits.
“We all have rituals and people we associate with eating sugar, Laura says. “Although the physical addiction only lasts a few days or weeks, the habit stays for a lot longer.”
Create new lifestyle habits that don’t revolve around food. Book a massage, go for a walk with a mate or watch your favourite movie, rather than tempting yourself at the café down the road with the great chocolate muffins…
4. Get mad for magnesium.
“Magnesium and chromium-rich foods help improve your cells’ sensitivity to insulin to maximise the amount of sugar we are able to burn,” says Laura.
“The more efficient this process is, the less insulin is needed to process the sugar and helps to prevent a blood sugar crash a few hours later. It is when we have crashed that we crave sugar the most.”
Try munching on more dark green leafy veggies, almonds, pumpkin seeds, romaine lettuce, broccoli, green beans and chocolate.
5. Identify what you really need.
As Laura points out, “People use and crave food for so much more than to satisfy their hunger and feed their body.”
Ask yourself: what do you really need? If you’re lonely, pick up the phone and talk to someone who will cheer you up. Feeling anxious or angry? Try yoga or hit the treadmill. Want to celebrate? Get a manicure.
If nothing but a slice of cake will do, recreate a sugar-free version, like this one…
6. Remove the temptation.
If you’re still struggling to say no to that ice cream in the freezer, remove constant access to the offender, suggests Laura.
Sugar cravings are easier to avoid if you can’t see the jar of chocolate spread in your pantry, or don’t have packets of jellies in your top drawer at work. Give yourself the best chance of beating them by not buying them in the first place!
That way when you do indulge (hey, we all do occasionally!) you can do it mindfully. And really enjoy it.
7. Join our 8-Week Program!
With hundreds of tasty sugar-free recipes, seasonal meal plans, access to a panel of more than 40 experts and an awesome community of fellow sugar quitters to support you, you’ll be showing those cravings who’s the boss once and for all.
We originally published this article in January 2016. We updated it in February 2017.