Does that morning coffee and cookie leave you craving another treat two hours later? Do you grab a sweet soda or chocolate bar to cope with your afternoon sleepiness? Are your sweet cravings raging out of control? Do you want to get rid of your sugar addiction? Here are 5 ways to get sugar out of your life.

First things first, if you’re one of these people who just goes from one sweet treat to the next, know that you’re not alone.

Why do you crave sugar, anyway?

There’s more than one reason why we lean towards sweet things. Considered to be an innate or primal taste preference, sweet is as basic as it gets, particularly in infancy and childhood. According to Christine Gerbstadt, MD, RD, a dietitian and and author Doctor’s Detox Diet, “Sweet is the first taste humans prefer from birth.” Sugar, as a primary carbohydrate, stimulates the release of serotonin in the brain, which is a feel-good chemical. And if that is not enough, the taste of sugar also helps releases endorphins that can calm and relax us when we are feeling stressed or angry.

And most certainly, sweet foods taste good, too! With all that going for it, why wouldn’t you crave sweet treats?

So what’s the problem, really?

The problem arises not when you indulge in a sweet treat now and then, but when you over-consume sugary foods on a regular basis. To add to this, many processed foods like breads, juices, yogurt and sauces have added sugar that appears in forms you may not even recognise. It can become really easy to over-consume sugar on a daily basis and start feeling its metabolic effects soon after, says the American Heart Association.

A list of the many forms and names of added sugar
The many forms and names of sugar

Your health could be at risk

Blood sugar swings, caused by frequent sweet indulgences, can lead to mood disturbances as well as increase your risk for chronic diseases like Prediabetes and Type 2 Diabetes; excess sugar can convert to fat in the body and lead to an unwanted increase in body weight; and as studies show, added sugar can lead to low-grade inflammation and increased gut permeability.

According to Dr. Frank Lipman, ” if you want to feel better, look better, age better – and keep your immune defences high” you have got to kick the sugar habit.

This is why it’s important to cut down on your consumption of processed foods and limit your intake of foods containing added sugar, and instead focus on whole foods, including healthy proteins and fats.

4 Pretty Cupcakes in a Box

Eating lots of simple and sugary carbohydrates, without a balance of proteins and fats, can satisfy your hunger quickly and give you a short-term energy boost, but such foods always leave you craving for more. What most people don’t realise is that munching on sugary snacks just makes them crave more sugary snacks. And it becomes a self-perpetuating vicious cycle.

How can you stop sugar cravings once and for all?

How can you get sugar out of your life?

Here’s some simple advice to tame that sweet tooth that you can put into practice right now.

  1. Keep sugary snacks out of reach

It’s difficult to snack on sugary snacks and treats that aren’t there. Clear out your kitchen shelves and workplace drawers. Get rid of foods that contain added sugar. Out of sight… is out of mind and body!

It’s a vicious cycle. Eating sugary foods makes you crave more sugary foods. Get them out of your kitchen now!

Madhavi Shilpi

It’s a good idea to keep healthy snacks available for when the urge strikes. Foods like nut butters, vegetable sticks, hummus, fresh berries, and olives with unprocessed cheese are some good alternatives to cookies and muffins.

  1. Eat regularly 

It is important to eat two to three balanced meals a day. A meal that contains adequate protein, healthy fats and some complex carbohydrates will prevent blood sugar levels from dropping. This will therefore reduce the craving for sweet sugary snacks. Not consuming enough calories can also lead to intense sugar cravings as the body tries to look for quick energy. So focus on real, unprocessed foods and healthy balanced meals to start correcting your hunger and satiety signals.

  1. Take care of your body

Engaging in regular physical activity can help boost your energy, reduce stress, and decrease your cravings for a sugar lift. You can take on yoga or dancing or even go for long walks. Movement of any kind is a great mood lifter! Start small if you’ve gotten off the movement wagon and keep adding small amounts of movement throughout the day.

  1. Take care of your mind

It’s common to reach for a sweet treat to overcome feelings of anger or hurt or overwhelmed. Finding ways to become mindful of emotional states that lead you to sugary foods is the first step in curbing those pesky cravings. Once acknowledged, using short ‘breathing’ breaks, taking a short walk or doing a few quick stretches can be a great way to distract the mind and conquer sugar cravings, according to Lipman.

  1. Get restful sleep

Often times, being tired and sleep deprived can direct you towards sugary foods in an attempt to alleviate your exhaustion. According to Steven Shea, Ph.D., staying up later into the night coincides with the internal circadian uptick in hunger. It becomes increasingly difficult to ward off those cravings for ice cream and sweet munchies late at night. Follow a good sleep routine and allow your body to rest and recover to regain control over your sugar intake.

Believe that you can conquer your cravings

It becomes easier to avoid reaching out for sugary treats once you cross the first 2-3 days. Give yourself time and use these tried-and-true 5 ways to get sugar out of your life. Focus on healthy balanced meals at regular intervals, include some form of physical and mindfulness-based activities each day and improve your sleep habits to give yourself a fighting chance to get sugar out of your life.