Tame your Appetite and Overcome Sweet Food Cravings
Many people find that they crave sugar-containing foods, because sugar is after all highly addictive! When we eat sugary foods and beverages our body releases the feel good hormone dopamine, and who doesn't want to feel good!? Of course this makes it a lot harder to ditch the habit.
The 'high' we experience from the release of dopamine leads to feelings of withdrawal (if you consume regularly) when you try to go without sugar, which makes it all the more difficult eliminate the sugar cravings.
So taming your appetite and overcome sugar cravings is challenging but can totally be done if you follow the below ideas!
First of all you need to Identify and understand your craving triggers
Most of us realize that there is more to hunger than just that rumbling feeling in and empty tummy. Common appetite triggers (other than hunger) include stress, loneliness, boredom, or sadness. Understanding the type of hunger you are feeling, and what your food triggers are, is KEY to curbing unnecessary snacking.
Ask yourself, Am I hungry? Am I trying to satisfy....
Physical hunger: True hunger is the feeling of discomfort due to a lack of food. It may cause a rumbling tummy feeling, weakness or difficulty concentrating !
Taste hunger: Have you walked past a bakery and smelt freshly baked bread, causing your mouth to water? That craving can be described as a taste hunger and is a big reason why KFC and the like pump those smells out into the air!
Scheduled hunger: “It’s lunch time so it must be time to eat!” Always eating to the clock rather than your body’s internal hunger cues satisfies your mind’s idea of meal times, rather than hunger itself.
Heart hunger: Eating to fill an emotional void with food. Emotional eating may be triggered by many different emotions such as anxiety, stress, sadness or loneliness. Unfortunately food can never fill or prevent these emotions.
Thirst: Being dehydrated drains you of energy, and is very often confused for hunger.
A previous blog I've written Caving to the Craving and what they really might mean covers a few more ideas and reasons behind the possible nutrient deficiencies that can cause specific cravings.
Retraining your palate
The receptors on your taste buds are constantly being replaced. So with a commitment to the cause you can actually retrain your "sweet tooth” within a couple of weeks.
Forming any new habit, or changing existing habits takes an open mind set, preparation and organization. Take a look at what your current go to snacks are. Aim to swap sugary foods for savoury options.
Remember natural sugars such as those often used in “raw treats” (think honey, maple syrup, agave and dried fruits) will still cause the dopamine response in your body! Now this isn't to say you have to avoid them, however, it just makes it a lot easier habit to break by getting rid of it all for the initial 21 days (that it takes to break a habit)
Some ideal savoury snack options include:
Unsalted nuts and seeds
Vegetable sticks and hummus
Avocado and a quality cracker (avoid wheat based ones)
Find things that make you feel good that AREN’T food or drink
If you have realized that emotional hunger is a trigger for your cravings then part of the journey to healing your relationship with yourself and food is to find ways, other than food rewards, to make yourself feel good!
Many of us tend to feel happy when we reach milestones or experience the BIG moments in life, but those big achievements can feel few and far between (the house, wedding, partner, dream job etc.).
Practice gratitude for the little things that make up each day is extremely important for your well-being. Resorting to food or alcohol during stress, sadness or sadness is far from ideal, so instead of drowning a rough day at work with alcohol at night, set aside time to make a list of feel good strategies you can use in times of need.
Ideas for your list could include:
Phoning an old friend for a much-needed catch up
Running a bath with epsom salts and essential oils
Reading a book/magazine
Listening to a podcast
Booking in a massage
Playing a few of your favourite songs (dancing is encouraged!)
Boost your fibre
Have you noticed that fresh fruit keeps you fuller than fruit juice? That’s the because its full of fibre!
Fibre slows digestion and creates the feeling of fullness as well as stabilizing blood sugar levels. The texture of fibre containing foods helps us feel satisfied, as these foods are solid and tend to take more chewing! Give your diet a fibre make over by including sources such as lentils, beans, nuts and seeds and remember to leave the skin on your fruits and vegetables when possible.
Increase protein and fat intake
By making your main meals satisfying, means you are less likely to be reaching for snacks during the day. By building a proper meal that contains a good portion of quality fat and protein you will feel meal satisfaction, as well as having stable blood sugar levels that help reduce sugar cravings. Aim to always include some protein or fat containing foods at each meal time. Choose the option that works for you - some people go well with bean/ lentils etc while others do not, same with meat. Work out what suits your body in this category. Some good options are:
Full fat yoghurt or coconut yoghurt (add to cereals or smoothies)
Eggs (makes a satisfying breakfast. Add a pinch of cayenne pepper and salt and peper or they are an easy to carry quick snack - if hard boiled)
Smoothie that includes quality protein powder, nut milk, and avocado
Pre-soaked or canned lentils or beans (think mexi beans and guacamole, a salad or soup extra, made into dips like hummus etc)
Avocado - I mean how many ways with the avocado...add to smoothies, salad, make into guacamole etc
Use olive oil, avocado oil, macadamia oil in a salad or roast veg dressings
A portion of wild caught fish and quality ethically raised meat
Hopefully this has given you a few tips that will work for you to beat those sugar craving.
Please leave any helpful suggestions that work for you in the comments below!