Listen to your body
Webster’s Dictionary defines a craving as “an intense, urgent, or abnormal desire or longing.” Synonyms include yearning, hankering, wish, want, and lust. However, just because you’re having a craving or want something sweet doesn’t mean you have to eat sugar. Or even pop a sugar replacement, such as a piece of fruit — on impulse. Take a minute to understand what’s really going on in your body. Do you have a headache? Are you stressed out? Do you feel physical hunger? Are you bored? Do you need an energy boost? Or do you really want a sweet treat?
Buy yourself some time
Drink a glass of water, take five deep breaths, or go for a short walk. If you are truly hungry, it’s okay to reach for a snack. Your best bet for stamping out a craving may be to have a snack that includes protein or a source of healthy fat. Prepping your own at the beginning of the week will enable you to be proactive. It will also prevent trips to the vending machine for sugar-filled packaged foods.
Pay attention to patterns
If you notice that a sugar craving hits you at 3 p.m. daily without fail. That’s a good sign you should add a protein-filled snack at this time to power through the day. It will make you feel better instantly. It also will set you up for a better evening with fewer cravings around bedtime.
Balance your meals
Make sure every meal you eat (including breakfast and lunch!) contains protein, veggies, or other healthy carbs and healthy fats. This will keep you fuller for longer and stabilize your blood sugar.
Identify your faves
Figure out what you love to eat so that you feel satisfied — not deprived — at the end of a meal. It might help to keep it simple and pick two go-to breakfasts, two go-to lunches, and two go-to dinners and have those ingredients on hand so you can stay consistent.
Spice things up
We sometimes get stuck in an eating rut sticking to the same simple meals every day. We know they’re “safe”. But as they say, variety is the spice of life — and spice is a savior when you’re swapping out sugar. Some of the most unique flavors are derived from easily accessible spices that don’t contain any added sugar. For example, red pepper and cinnamon.
While it helps to have enjoyable staples to turn to, getting curious in the kitchen can provide a fun outlet and instill healthy eating habits. Explore recipes, eat some new vegetables and fruits you’ve never tried before or combine different ingredients to create new dishes. By switching up what you’re eating from day to day, you might find a new delicious dish that gets you excited about dinner.
Dodge sugar pushers
While most people will support your get-healthy mission, there will be a few who try to derail your efforts. At a birthday or holiday dinner, you might notice your mom trying to persuade you to eat dessert — or your friends eye-rolling because you turned down a cocktail. Even your spouse can morph into a sugar pusher when he or she wants to hit that all-you-can-eat pasta joint.