5 Ways to Stay Ahead of Sugar Cravings
Sugar has gotten a bad rep lately, blamed for various diseases from heart disease to cancer to depression. However, sugar is something our bodies require for proper functioning and is our body’s preferred source of energy.
First and foremost, your brain runs on sugar. Without sugar, it does not have the proper fuel to function fully. Ever heard the term hangry? Well, that’s why it happens. Sugar is also a preferred source of energy during exercise, particularly for long-distance running, biking, and other endurance activities. This also helps your body use protein to build muscle and other vital functions, rather than breaking it down for energy.
Follow these five tips to help fuel your body with sugar in a nutritious way.
1. EAT CONSISTENTLY
When we skip meals, our blood sugar plummets, causing us to crave more sugar to bring it back up. Most of us require food every 3-4 hours. This can be three meals and a snack or two, or several mini-meals. The important thing is that we eat regularly throughout the day. Planning ahead with nutritious snacks at home, at work, and on the go.
2. EAT ENOUGH
Chronically under-eating is like holding our breath. Sure, we can do it for a time, but eventually, we gasp for air. The same happens if we don’t give our body the energy. In the end, we end up craving it uncontrollably because it’s a physiological need.
3. BALANCE YOUR MEALS
When we have well-balanced meals, our blood sugar stays more stable. This helps keep it from getting so low that it triggers cravings. A balanced meal includes some complex starches like potatoes or whole grains for slow-release energy, some lean proteins, some healthy fats like avocado, nuts, or olive oil, and some fiber from fruits and vegetables.
4. PRIORITIZE SLEEP
We all know that our brains aren’t functioning at their best after a short or poor night’s sleep. Our mood can also take a hit. This can lead our brain to seek out sugar to provide quick energy and a feel-good hit of dopamine. Making sure we get 7-9 hours of sleep and practicing good sleep hygiene can go a long way in fighting sugar cravings.
Exercise can help boost energy levels and mood and provide the same type of dopamine hit that sugar does. Finding a form of physical activity that you enjoy and then making it a regular part of your schedule can be a powerful way to combat those cravings.
No matter the quality of our diet, the amount that we eat, sleep and exercise, or how well prepared we are, sugar cravings are inevitable. When you do give in, be kind to yourself. One sweet treat will not make or break your overall health or undo all the efforts you may have been putting into improving your lifestyle. But, if you beat yourself up, that may influence your choices for the rest of the day, week, or worse. Just look ahead to the next best choice that you can make, take a deep breath, and move on.
Becca Blumberg, MS, RDN | firstname.lastname@example.org
“Food is more than fuel. It is connection, culture, and pleasure. I enjoy helping people reconnect with their love of food and find the joy in eating again.”
Becca has been an HCSG Registered Dietitian since 2021. She earned an MS in Human Nutrition at Colorado State University in 2018 and completed her internship with Gulf Coast Dietetic Internship in 2020. She is an avid trail runner and triathlete and plans to participate in Ironman Alaska in August 2022.