New Year Resolution: Overcoming Sugar Cravings
Happy New Year! It’s that time of the year! The beginning of a new time. A time for reevaluating our past year and making new goals, new resolutions, and new commitments. Many of us make resolutions about health and wellness, which can be particularly daunting after weeks of holiday feasting. One of my goals every year is cutting back my intake of sweets and overcoming sugar cravings, which I found to be a very daunting task, but along the way, I’ve learned many important things about our relationship with sugar and tips on how to say no to sugar.
First of all, don’t blame yourself for your sugar cravings. You might, “Well, I guess I have no self control,” or “How come this is so difficult?”
But believe me, it isn’t just you. Sugar is highly addictive and there’s science to back it up. Recent research has been finding that consuming sugar releases opioids, which are neurotransmitters that can elevate mood and activate your body’s pleasure receptors. Some research is showing that sugar is just as addictive as cocaine or heroine. In some animal studies, sugar has found to be more addictive than cocaine.
The good news is after combating serious cravings for sugar, I have found many helpful tools to share with you in your journey to better health. And let me remind you that cutting out sugar is a HUGE way to improve your health. Sugar elimination can reduce your chances of developing Type 2 Diabetes, Obesity, Hypertension, Alzheimer’s, Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome, Heart disease, and many more. Eliminating sugar can also reduce inflammation and pain, decrease plaque build-up, increase mental clarity and cognitive function, help you lose weight and reduce headaches and migraines. People who eliminate sugar generally experience improved memory, restful sleep, more endurance and concentration, less dental issues, elevated and more stable emotions and less mood swings. Any or all of that sounding good to you?
We all want to live to our fullest health and wellness potential and overcoming sugar cravings can be the ultimate step for a lot of people. Here are some ways to help you in your journey:
- Start you day with some protein! Protein for breakfast can help keep you feeling full throughout the day and cut cravings. There are lots of great ways to incorporate protein into you breakfast, like eatings eggs or organic meat, a protein smoothie, or some nut butter on toast. I am a big fan of a smoothie in the morning and I always make sure to add clean protein powder. Avoid cheap whey and soy proteins, as they can be hard on the digestive system and can contain lots of toxins that you do not need.
- Take a probiotic and eat live foods. New research is coming out showing the connection between cravings and gut microbes. Gut microbes have preferences of certain foods and if you have been eating lots of sugar, refined wheat, alcohol or other unhealthy foods, dangerous gut microbes can thrive in your body. In order to populate your gut with healthy and beneficial microbes, you can take a probiotic and eat foods that are considered to have “live cultures.” Some of these foods include kombucha, miso, tempeh and kimchi. Learn more about a healthy gut biome here: Happiness from the Root Source: Your Gut.
- Start tongue scraping! This ancient Ayurvedic practice is something you can easily incorporate into your teeth-brushing time. Tongue scraping removed excess food particles that can linger, and also remove toxins that can come out through the mouth. These food particles and toxins can affect your gut health and cravings and as you remove the particles and the toxins, you will find yourself craving less! Even if you already brush your tongue with your toothbrush, tongue scraping can be much more effective and you will be surprised what you find! The best tongue scrapers are stainless steel, under $10 and can be found at a drug store or health food store.
- Eat fruit! As you reduce your sugar intake, you may find that there’s a certain time of the day that you really want something sweet. For me, it is normally about an hour after I eat dinner. Even though I will eat a healthy, filling dinner, I can still get those cravings for sweetness. To remedy this, I often give myself some seasonal fresh fruit. Fruit is also great because it contains fiber, which regulates the time in which the sugar is absorbed in your bloodstream so you do not have a sugar rush and crash. Fruit also makes an easy snack to carry with you when you anticipate sugar cravings throughout the day.
- Snacking can be very helpful when eliminating sugar. You may find yourself hungrier than usual, which is very normal. There are specific bacteria in your gut that love sugar and thrive and grow when you eat more and more sugar. As you cut sugar out of your diet, these bacteria will start to get hungry and that can manifest as cravings. Don’t give into the cravings and let those sugar-loving bacteria continue to thrive! Filling your body with healthy snacks, like nuts and seeds, organic dried meat, or fresh or dried fruit makes overcoming sugar cravings much more managable. If you chose dried fruit, remember that a little can go a long way and always drink some water or tea when you’re eating dried fruit to avoid constipation.
- Don’t replace cravings for sugar with synthetic foods with alcohol sugars. Alcohol sugars, like Erythritol, Xylitol and Sorbitol, can taste sweet, but be weary because they can oftentimes have laxative effects and cause bloating and diarrhea. These sugar-like substances are often advertised as having no sugar and less calories, but the reason is because the food is not being absorbed and will go right through! Not good!
- Drink teas that are naturally sweet! There are so many teas that are delicious and can satiate your sugar cravings without being detrimental to your health. Some of my favorites are our Vanilla Rooibos tea and our Turmeric Ginger tea. Rooibos is a naturally sweet herb that contains lots of antioxidants and when it is paired with vanilla, it creates a rich and delicious taste. Our Turmeric Ginger tea has a little bit of spice and a lot of sweetness from the licorice. Licorice is one of the most medicinal herbs in Chinese Medicine and really helps satiate that post-dinner sugar craving. These teas can be found in our store and on our website.
- Try a cleanse! Cleanses can be really great ways to jump-start your sugar detox. Here at Arogya, we have a 8-Week Sugar Detox Program using different teas to help you with overcoming sugar cravings. We also recommend Sarah Wilson’s sugar detox program.
- Find sweetness in life. Cravings for sugar can be our deeper search for sweetness and nourishment in our lives. In Chinese medicine, things that are naturally sweet are considered to be very nourishing to the body and can harmonize imbalances. When you find yourself craving sugar and sweets, take a moment to ask yourself if you’re looking for a moment of nourishment and harmony. What aspects of your life can be sweetened? What activities and hobbies in your life bring you joy and happiness and add to life’s sweet and nourishing qualities? Make 2018 your year for health and happiness. Cut back on the sugar and find things in your life that bring you true sweetness and harmony.
Written by: Alison Larocca