I love sugar. It goes beyond that. I feel like I have a personal relationship with sugar. I love it, I eat it, it makes my pants too tight. It’s a sick cycle really. I’ve recently tried to cut back dramatically on sugar and I’ve noticed a huge change in the way I look, feel and how those pants fit.
The problem is, I still get sugar cravings. When I just can’t ignore them anymore, I turn to these quick fixes. I am not a nutrition or fitness expert. I don’t have a degree in human anatomy and I can’t even sing the song “Dem Bones.” But I am a busy mom in her 30’s who gets stressed, tired and just wants a Snickers every now and again. I feel that does make me an expert to some extent.
1. Dark Chocolate – I’m not talking semi-sweet. I’m talking DARK chocolate. These Lindt 90% cocoa chocolate bars are GREAT for cutting the craving. One square has less than a gram of sugar and helps to satisfy those cravings. I eat one after dinner as an end to my eating day.
2. Fruit – Yes, fruit does have sugar. But I feel better about eating a strawberry than I do a maple-glazed donut. If I’m really craving sugar, a few berries does the trick. I lean toward blackberries, but try eating a few raspberries, strawberries or blueberries. They have enough sweetness to get you through the rough times.
3. Cinnamon – Cinnamon has the ability to make things taste sweet without actually adding sugar. It’s kind of like it’s own little miracle. I add it to a glass of warm almond milk for a sweet treat, put it in stews and chili and even put it over a little plain yogurt. It’s also great for your heart which is an added benefit.
4. Sugar-Free Sweet Treats – And by “sugar-free” I don’t mean added, crappy, artificial sweeteners like aspartame. I mean no sugar at all. Check out the 21-Day Sugar Detox. This woman is a genius. She includes recipes for sweet treats that don’t actually use sugar. These two are my favorites: Lemon Vanilla Meltaways and Chocolate Almond Butter Cups (without the maple syrup)
5. Vanilla Extract – Like Cinnamon, vanilla gives the impression of being sweet without containing sugar. Add it to almond milk or yogurt for a sweet treat
6. Nuts – You have to be very careful with nuts as they pack a punch (a punch of fat and calories). If I limit myself to 5-10 nuts, I feel satisfied and can talk myself off the sugar ledge. I lean toward almonds, pecans, macadamia nuts and pistachios. Plus, they are healthy fats so if you don’t binge on them, the won’t actually make you fat. Woah!
7. Sugar-Free Gum – This is an old trick but it really works. I buy the fruity variety that tastes terrible after about 20 minutes. But those 20 minutes help me get the sweet hit I need. I’m not a big fan of the sweeteners in sugar-free gum, so I don’t do this often. But it’s a rather small amount of sweetener and again, probably better than a Snickers bar (for some reason I keep mentioning Snickers. Crave much?).
9. Coconut – Coconut is a beautiful, delicious, healthy, wonderful, sweet (okay I’ll stop) thing. It contains no sugar but has a sweet flavor. Make sure you get it unsweetened as it’s one of those things companies think they need to sweeten, which makes no sense to me. I use coconut chips, shredded coconut, coconut oil, coconut butter and coconut milk. If it says “coconut,” I’m going to stop and check it out. Plus coconut is extremely healthy for you. Another added bonus.
10. Give yourself time and be patient – Sugar is a real addiction. Deciding mentally to give up sugar doesn’t mean your body will automatically comply. It takes time to break those cravings but DON’T GIVE UP! If you struggle after one day, don’t assume it will always be so. Your body will evolve if you are persistent. This will get better. I find arguing with myself is also effective (you know you occasionally talk to yourself too). I try to think how I’ll feel in half an hour if I give eat and eat that sugar. I’ll feel like crap. My pants will feel tighter (even if it’s only psychologically), and my mind will feel defeated. You generally don’t regret resisting food, but often feel guilty for giving in and eating that treat.
That said, I’m not one for suggesting you give up sugar 100%. If I told myself I’d never eat sugar again, I’d eat the entire candy isle of Target. Set rules for yourself but allow yourself opportunities to indulge. Still limit yourself on those indulgences to one serving (an entire pan of brownies is not a healthy indulgence), but choose something you can stick with. A crash diet isn’t going to change your life, but a healthy lifestyle will.