Hey there everyone! I hope you are all staying safe and healthy during this difficult time and that any cases of cabin fever haven’t gotten too unbearable. This lockdown/quarantine period certainly isn’t easy, especially when it comes to staying healthy. Most of the foods that are non-perishable tend to be of the less-healthy variety, chips, chocolates and cookies have become the ideal snack food because fresh fruits are not as easy to buy and we’re stuck at home so don’t have as much natural exercise or variety of food to consume. So, given all of this, I’m sure everyone is struggling to keep up healthy diets or lifestyles. One thing that is particularly challenging is dealing with sugar cravings … We all know that when those strong cravings hit, it almost impossible to not cave in to temptation. How on earth, given the situation, can we stay healthy when it seems that our very lifestyles at the moment allow us to give in to desires for junk food and sugar cravings? Well, I know that it can be extremely challenging to let go of sugar (trust me, I’ve been there and it’s not exactly a party), especially when the situation isn’t ideal, so today I thought I’d share some tips to help with that. The global quarantine doesn’t exactly make it any easier, but if you are determined to drop the amount of sugar you consume and don’t want to be overcome by cravings, then try out these tips to help you crush those sugar cravings!
DO NOT STARVE YOURSELF
The worst thing you can ever do is starve yourself. I’m serious! Starving yourself may seem like a great, logical idea at the time but at the end of the day, it is only going to cause you pain and suffering and initiate greater cravings. Also, when you stop starving yourself, it will be so much harder to stay on the straight and narrow because you’ll want to binge all the food you’ve been missing out on. Not only that, but starving yourself can actually make cravings even worse. There’s nothing wrong with being hungry, because people eat too much in general and if you are trying to lose weight, feeling hungry will be a natural result. However, the trick is not to let yourself get too hungry between meals. Hungry = okay. Starving = baaaaddd!
Have a nice, hot shower
You might be wondering how a hot shower could help with anything to do with sugar cravings, and you’re right to be curious. Now I know that this one may seem a little bizarre, but hear me out. Some people have found that hot baths or showers can provide a certain relief because the heat can sometimes get rid of the craving. Make sure that the water isn’t scalding, but hot enough so that it’s on the verge of feeling uncomfortable. Let the water run over you for at least 5-10 minutes. The heat from the water, after that time, may make you feel as if you’ve been sitting in a sauna and give you a dazed feeling – at that point, your craving will most probably be gone, or forgotten. It may sound bizarre but I have tried this and it works, so next time you get a craving, test it out.
Drink a glass of water
I’ve mentioned this in almost all of my health/diet related blog posts but I thought I’d mention it again in case you haven’t read any of those. Being properly hydrated has so many positive effects and influences on your health and one of them includes helping to quench sugar cravings (that pun was totally intended). If you feel hungry or like you need something sweet, have a glass of water first because our need for water is often masked as a feeling of hunger. Dehydration can cause cravings so if you stay hydrated and drink a glass of water when you feel the urge for a chocolate you may soon find that most of those cravings was simply you feeling dehydrated.
Eat a healthy meal
A craving is not the same thing as hunger but when the two are combined, evil can be released. A craving is your brain asking you to eat something that releases dopamine and serotonin (the hormones that boost your mood and stimulate the part of your brain associated with reward) but hunger is your brain calling for energy to fuel your body. So, as you can imagine, if you get a craving when you are hungry, often times the temptation is too hard to resist. Therefore, if you get a craving while you’re hungry (so the need to eat something is almost too hard to overcome), the best way to get through it is by eating a healthy meal as soon as possible. Keep a stash of healthy snacks or ingredients for healthy meals so that when that hungry craving comes along, you’re ready for it. Eating the healthy meal will fill you up, thus getting rid of the hunger, but it will also likely stop the craving because you are giving your body the energy it actually needs instead of what your brain wants (and you and your body will feel so much better when you make that choice).
Avoid artificial sweeteners
When I first started being healthy, I swapped out soft drinks for zero drinks, and to replace the sugar/honey I was putting in my tea I added sweeteners. It may seem like a good idea at the time to make this kind of transition but sometimes artificial sweeteners can do more damage than good. Artificial sweeteners, to make up for the lack of sugar, are often filled with chemicals and this can sometimes trigger cravings. Also, the problem I found with artificial sweeteners is that they didn’t help me stop wanting sugar. So, my best advice is to avoid them altogether. That way, they won’t trigger any cravings, and it will help you let go of sugar that much easier.
Try a brisk walk or some exercise
As I mentioned earlier, when you get a craving it is your brain wanting a release of all those feel-good chemicals that are often released when we eat junk food. Lucky for you, the same effect can occur when you exercise because exercise releases endorphins (as well as both serotonin and dopamine). Essentially, more feel-good hormones are released during exercise and this release triggers a positive feeling in the body, so you getting in some exercise will satisfy all those hormones your brain wants to have released while still being healthy for you because you won’t need to eat sugar to initiate those feelings. So, if you’re feeling the need for something sweet, go for a brisk walk or a run (or do any other type of exercise such as push-ups or burpees if you don’t have the means to go outside or use a treadmill). Not only will it distract you from the food you want, but those feel-good chemicals will still be released in a much healthier way, which will help turn your craving off.
Steer clear of triggers
Is there something in particular that just sets you off? A smell or a place that makes your mouth water and melts your resistance and is just too tempting to even think about resisting? We all have triggers like this and they just make avoiding sugar and being healthy that much harder. For example, walking past a McDonalds, baking or simply seeing loads of sugary things in your house. I mean, are you more likely to get a pizza if you walk past a pizza store and breathe in all those delicious smells, or if you avoid the dragon’s den? Are you more likely to snack on some chips or chocolate if you see them so readily available in your pantry, or if you have to go out all the way out to the shops to buy them? Sometimes the best way to get a handle on your sugar cravings is to ditch anything and everything that is sugary or triggers you to want sugar. So, make a note of your triggers, the things that you just can’t resist, and take them out of the equation. It may sound like an extreme, and be difficult in the beginning, but it will help you so much in the long run of being healthy and cutting out sugar.
Eat a healthy sweet thing
Sometimes though, no matter how good you are, the call to have something sweet just cannot be ignored. If that happens, I completely understand because cutting all things sweet out of your life is incredibly intense and challenging and I think even the strongest of us with unbreakable self-control sometimes want something sweet. The solution is to then eat something sweet. A healthy sweet thing though. Now you might be thinking what on earth a healthy sweet thing is, so here are a few examples. Fruit is healthy, but also sweet because of the fructose so having a piece of fruit can often satisfy sugar cravings. You could also have some yoghurt, crunchy vegetables like carrots, snack bars or sugar-free gum. These things will take the edge off your craving, without undoing all of your hard work.
Avoid excess stress
Stress is like a black hole. It sucks everything in and doesn’t give anything positive out. That may not be scientifically accurate, but the point I’m trying to make is that stress is only going to have a negative impact on your life. One of the negatives is that stress is often accompanied by it’s best friend, stress-eating. When things are tough, or you’ve had a rubbish day or feel completely miserable, the call for sugar is the only solace that seems to give us any comfort. I’ve been there and I get it. Sometimes the only thing that makes us feel better is binging on sugar until there is too much sweet to feel the sad. Unfortunately, that is a definite way to flush your healthy plan and mission to avoid sugar down the toilet so the only way to prevent that is to avoid excess stress. I know that sounds like a fool’s dream, especially given how many things there are in the world to cause us stress, but you need to try. If you feel your stress levels are increasing too much and that may lead to stress-eating, try some self-care activities or something that relaxes you. The bonus is that you’ll not only (hopefully) get rid of the craving but you’ll also feel relaxed and peaceful after. 😊
Read your list
There is something very powerful in recalling the right motivational anecdotes or a list of reasons why you’re eating healthy whenever you get a craving. It may seem childish and silly to keep motivational phrases or a list of reasons on you or up on your walls, but it can be incredibly beneficial because it is often hard to remember your reasons when you get a craving. So, for next time you get a craving, right out a list of all the reasons why you want to be healthy (ie. a new bikini, feeling more confident in your body, wanting to improve your skin etc.) and keep it somewhere that you can access easily. It will also be helpful to make a collection of quotes that inspire you – that way, whenever that piece of chocolate calls, those quotes and list will keep you strong and grounded in your health mission.
And so there you have it. I’m going to say it again that doing something like this isn’t easy even in the most ideal circumstances, and global quarantine is far from ideal, so I know and understand that it will be challenging. However, if you really do want to lower your sugar intake and take control of those pesky cravings, I really hope that this blog post helped you out and provided you with some tips that you think could be useful. If, however, you think I’ve missed any out, please let me know in the comments section! Also, if you’ve won against cravings or have a fun story about sugar cravings that you’d like to share then I would love to hear them (so be sure to write them in the comments section). As always, thank you all so much for reading and the continued support. If you enjoyed, please don’t forget to hit that little like button at the bottom of this post and subscribe so you don’t miss out on future blog posts. Also, if you’re looking for more posts related to being healthy, you can check out the links at the end of the post 😊 See you on Saturday!
Lots of Love
Blondey on a Mission xxx