You've gone through your kitchen and tossed out all processed foods. You've stocked up on fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. You've even gone organic! But you're still craving sugar. Sound familiar?
Don't let those sweet tooth munchies pull you back to the dark side! We've got a few simple strategies to help you kick 'em to the curb.
Keeping your blood sugar levels stabilized throughout the day is the first step to beating those cravings. If your blood sugar drops too much or sky rockets, it will make you crave that soft drink or sugary doughnut for a quick fix.
THE SOLUTION: Make a point of eating complete meals that combine 40% carbohydrates (like leafy greens, salads, vegetables), 30% protein (chicken, turkey, fish), and 30% fat (olive oil, nuts, nut butters). If you eat a meal with nothing but carbohydrates, they'll be digested quickly, spiking blood sugar. Protein and good fats will sustain blood sugar and prevent cravings for sugar.
BEWARE LOW-CARBOHYDRATE DIETS
These diets often create cravings for sweets and starches because your brain prefers running on the glucose supplied by carbs. Remember: there are good carbohydrates and bad carbohydrates. Good carbs include fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and whole foods. Bad carbs include all the highly processed foods in the center aisles of the grocery store, which will spike your blood sugar and cause sugar cravings.
When you don't fuel your body with enough good carbohydrates, your body will crave nutrient-dense foods. And if it doesn't get them, cravings for sugar will take over.
THE SOLUTION: Spend some time in the produce section and build a mini-meal around one or more whole foods like sweet potatoes, whole grains, vegetables, salad or other leafy greens. Add colorful vegetables to every meal with a touch of healthy fats from nuts, olive oil, and macadamia nut oil. Always add a good quality protein source--these support muscle and the more muscle you have, the more calories you'll burn just sitting around reading this article. Plus protein slows down the release of carbohydrates into the bloodstream and keeps blood sugar levels stable.
AVOID STARTING YOUR DAY WITH SUGAR
This one's pretty simple: sugar makes you crave more sugar. Plus it can stimulate your appetite so the more you eat, the more you'll want.
THE SOLUTION: Find a healthy substitute to appease your sweet tooth like yogurt, oats and raisins mixed together parfait-style for a quick, satisfying snack. Eat an apple with some almond butter. Instead of using granulated sugar when making pies or certain cakes, sprinkle in date sugar made from pure dried-powdered dates, which can be found in most health food stores.
STOP SOOTHING EMOTIONAL PROBLEMS OR STRESS WITH SWEETS
We're exposed to stresses every day and though you can't always prevent it, you can support your body with good nutrition to help you handle the stressful situations as they arise. Reaching for cookies, cakes, pies, caffeine, and sugar will make things worse by causing more aches and pains, indigestion, and excess body fat which lead to more health problems.
THE SOLUTION: Find other ways to deal with stress like taking a yoga class or learning to meditate. Take a walk or listen to relaxing music. In other words, take time out for you and your sugar-plum dreams will fade away.
Sherry L. Granader is a Sports Nutritionist, National Speaker and Spokesperson, Author of 2 healthy cookbooks, Writer, Ghost Writer, Nationally Certified Fitness Instructor and Personal Trainer. She has shared the stage with such celebrities as Whoopi Goldberg, Suze Orman and the late Governor Ann Richards and served as the On-Air Nutritionist for QVC television in the United States and the UK. She has cooked for her favorite bodybuilder, Lou Ferrigno (The Incredible Hulk) and his family, shared her nutrition expertise with Chuck Norris on the set of his movie "Sidekicks" and appeared on 8-time Mr. Olympia, Lee Haney's Championship Workouts on ESPN. Sherry hosted her own "Healthy Living" show on PBS for several years. For more information on Sherry, visit www.sgfit.com or write to Sherry at firstname.lastname@example.org.