We all know that high-sugar diets are extremely detrimental to health, so why do we struggle to cut down on the sweet stuff?
Looking back to ancient times, our ancestors were hardwired to seek out high-energy, sweet foods that were scarce and came in the form of fruits and lean meat.
Today, our primal brains haven’t evolved as fast as our environment, which is now abundant in high-energy, processed foods. These sweet temptations are hard to avoid, too – advertised to us on screens, shop windows and shopping aisles. To make matters worse, many sweet foods today are artificial, addictive and far removed from the natural foraged foods of hunter-gatherer communities.
So with sugar on the brain and obesity, dental cavities and type 2 diabetes on the rise, how can we take back control of our health? Here we look at how you can reduce sugar cravings with some smart but simple strategies.
Sugary sodas, often referred to as ‘liquid candy,’ are considered among the worst offenders when it comes to sugar intake. Most carbonated drinks are shockingly high in sugar and super addictive. It’s no surprise that consuming soda regularly has been strongly linked to weight gain, type 2 diabetes and heart diseases. And while sugar-free options are available, most ‘diet’ drinks are crammed full of arguably more harmful ingredients like artificial sweeteners that confuse the body and can even cause weight gain. While enjoying a treat is fine in moderation, some innovative soda alternatives on the market can provide that refreshing carbonated hit without excessive amounts of sugar.
One great example is the FUL® sparking spirulina drink. This eye-catching blue drink makes an excellent healthy soda alternative, as well as a post workout drink, that’s low in calories and full of nutrients, minerals, and antioxidants, thanks to the spirulina extract. This refreshing and sparkling drink can ease your soda cravings and, at the same time, give you a health boost.
Apple Cider Vinegar
Apple cider vinegar (ACV) is a popular culinary ingredient and home remedy, and research now suggests it may help to control cravings. Craving sugar could indicate that your blood sugar levels are off, as it signals that your body is craving food for quick energy hits. One 2013 study published by the Journal of Functional Foods found that taking ACV at mealtimes reduced blood glucose levels in populations at risk for type 2 diabetes.
Although more research is needed since ACV has been shown to benefit blood sugar levels, it’s possible that it could also control sugar cravings. What’s more, research shows that vinegar may help you feel fuller for longer by keeping food in the stomach for a more extended period.
ACV has lots of excellent health benefits and is now infused into gummies and drinks and can also be added to meals.
Though not technically a herb, cacao husk tea is an excellent way to eliminate chocolate cravings without artificial or natural sweeteners. Cacao husk tea, or chocolate tea, is made by steeping the husks of cacao shells in hot water to create a chocolate infusion. Many people find it hits the spot to satisfy their chocolate cravings without any sugar passing their lips.
Teas with cinnamon extract are another excellent option. Cinnamon is naturally sweet, and studies show it can lower blood sugar levels and help manage type 2 diabetes.
Most herbal teas are also choc-full of vitamins and minerals, and sipping on them can help you feel full and suppress appetite cravings.
Not only are chia seeds a great source of crucial healthy omega fats and nutrients, but they might also help with feelings of fullness and satiety. When added to liquid, chia seeds absorb water and swell up, becoming gelatinous and gooey. When they pass through your gut, these jellied seeds can keep you feeling fuller for longer and prevent sugar cravings by helping to stabilise erratic blood sugar levels.
They’re incredibly versatile and can simply be added to a glass of water or added to any liquids like milk, yogurt, or oatmeal. Healthy chia puddings have become extrememly popular, which involves eating chia seeds mixed with milk, yogurt, or fruit compote.
In case you want to add sweetness to your food or baking, opt for a natural sweetener over refined white sugars. There are plenty of choices available today, such as maple syrup, molasses, coconut sugar, raw honey and stevia.
While these alternatives still contain sugar, they are more natural, contain some vitamins and minerals and can be used as part of a healthy diet if used in moderation. You may even keep cravings at bay by not denying yourself the odd sweet treat. By contrast, artificial and refined sugars can be incredibly harmful to health and confuse our brains and bodies to seek more sweet treats. If you’re using natural sweeteners, be mindful of any refined carbohydrates in your diet, as they also include sugars.
Cravings are typically a signal from your body that it’s in need of energy or specific nutrients. Problems arise because many foods are so heavily concentrated and processed that it becomes so easy to eat too much sugar. If you craved sweetness and ate an orange, it would provide a well-balanced sugar hit with the addition of fiber for the fullness. Alternatively, if you drank a bottle of orange soda, the high volume of refined sugar can wreak havoc on your blood sugar and would do little to curb your appetite.
So, if sugar cravings are impacting your health and wellness, don’t despair! The ideas above can help you keep your cravings in check and move you closer to a healthy whole foods diet and all of the wonderful benefits that come with it.