Wednesday, June 1, 2011

How to Stop Sweet Cravings

Many people suffer cravings for sweets. The causes of these cravings can vary widely but chief among them are hormonal imbalances especially in insulin and serotonin, unhealthy dieting, Adrenal Fatigue, various eating disorders from the Body Dysmorphic Disorder group of symptoms, and even in premenstrual syndrome (National Institute of Health). To fully combat the root cause for your sugar cravings you will need to consult at least one doctor, and specific steps for stopping or decreasing cravings depend on an accurate diagnosis. That said many agree that some basic steps are effective for all the various causes of sugar cravings.

Steps -

  1. Increase your protein intake. Often our bodies will exhibit cravings for sweets when what they really need is more protein. This isn't true for everyone, so if having an egg or a steak doesn't improve your cravings please consider the recommendations below.
  2. Remove temptations. Go through your refrigerator and food pantry. Get rid of the cakes, ice cream, cookies, etc. When you go food shopping, make a conscious effort not to buy sweets. A good habit to get into is to take a walk instead of eating dessert. If, after 10 minutes, you still want sweets, gargle with an antiseptic mouthwash or brush your teeth. The aftertaste doesn't mix well with sweets and you'll probably lose your craving quickly. Or for a more dramatic altering of the taste sense, try getting Gymnema Sylvestre leaves and chewing a pinch of them thoroughly. In the following hour or two anything that is unsweetened will taste better than anything containing sugar.
  3. Replace sweets and sugar with fruits. The sugars in fruits are digested differently than the empty calories of white sugar that are in most candy and processed foods. The fiber in fruit also slows the absorption of the sugars so you don't get as high a sugar rush (and as low a crash).
  4. Go for quality, not quantity. Eat a small piece of 70% dark chocolate instead of a candy bar. Have a small scoop of gourmet ice cream instead of an entire bowl of light ice cream. The treat will be more satisfying and you'll be consuming less sugar in the long run.
  5. Read labels. You might be surprised to learn how much sugar there is in a lot of the foods that you eat. Being aware of sugar content can help you avoid high-sugar foods and kick the addiction.
  6. Improve your diet overall. There are several ways to do this, but the following may to help with sugar cravings in particular:
    • Eat more protein and fat, both of which make you feel full and satisfied.
    • Have small, frequent meals to help keep your blood sugar level stable and eliminate your body's need for a quick sugar fix. Avoid skipping meals (especially breakfast).
    • Take a daily multivitamin. Some nutrients help keep blood sugar stable, so ensure you get those by supplementing your diet appropriately.
  7. Combat hypoglycemia, or low-blood sugar by trying the following:
    • Eat a breakfast that is NOT sweet, for example brown rice, or lean protein and blanched vegetables.
    • Have no sweets (that includes fruit, refined flour, and all sweeteners) until after 3:00 pm. After that eat either fruit or a fruit or grain-sweetened dessert rather than sweets that contained refined sugars. Eating sweets in the morning or early afternoon tend to stimulate sweet cravings throughout the day. You might feel sick from eating sugars in the early morning
    • If you have the sugar blues in the morning around 10-10:30 and again in the afternoon around 2-4:00, drink 1 cup of sweet vegetable drink (see tips for recipe).
    • Avoid artificial sweeteners. Research has shown that artificial sweeteners cause intense cravings for sweets.

    Tips -

    • Some women tend to get sweet cravings the week before or week of their menstruation. If you know you have powerful cravings during a certain time of the month, prepare yourself by keeping sweets out of the house and having healthy snacks available. If the cravings are for chocolate in particular, make sure you're getting enough iron and magnesium in your diet or supplements: in some women, low levels appear to stimulate chocolate cravings.
    • To make Sweet Vegetable Drink combine 1/2 cup finely chopped green cabbage, 1/2 cup finely chopped carrot, 1/2 cup finely chopped squash, 1/2 cup finely chopped onion, and 4 cups water in a saucepan. Bring to a boil, simmer for 10 minutes, and cool. Store in the refrigerator. Drink warm or at room temperature.
    • Do your own home-baking with Xylitol. Despite its chemical-sounding name, it's a natural sweetener, made from plant fibre. See ref 2
    • Some people find out that food-combining and drinking more water or herbal tea really helps. See ref 3
    • When you have finished your meal, brush your teeth. The toothpaste will take away the food taste in your mouth (and many of us keep eating more because the food just tastes 'moorish'). The minty taste will reduce the likelihood of you reaching for something sweet.
    • Eat frozen grapes or bananas. Put a bag of grapes or a banana in the freezer overnight and eat the next day when they have frozen. These fruits will satisfy your sweet cravings and are healthier than a candy bar.
    • If you're low on time and resources, chewing a piece of long-lasting gum can keep for hours, and alleviates sugar-cravings.

    Warnings -

    • Don't set targets that you know you can't achieve. Take the process slowly and you'll see the results gradually - don't expect a quick fix.
    • Consult your doctor before starting a drastic diet change - even though it's for the better, your body needs to have a thorough check-over before you start!

    Source - http://www.wikihow.com/Stop-Sweet-Cravings

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