Whether you’ve been told to give up sugar completely by your doctor, want to reduce your overall added sugar intake, or you’re attempting to change your health by converting to a sugar-free diet like the Keto diet, one thing is certain – giving up sugar isn’t easy.
But kicking the sugar addiction is very doable and the good news is, it has way more to do with science than your own will power!
And that’s huge for most of us because our will power isn’t always the most reliable, especially when it comes to sweets!
I want to share with you all my best tips for how I’ve been greatly reducing my overall sugar intake without the overwhelming cravings.
I am not on a no-sugar diet but if you are, these tips will help you stay on track and certainly curbs those pesky sugar cravings.
Get Your Mind Right First
The first thing we must do when attempting to eliminate or reduce anything we love from our diet is to get our minds right. If we don’t, it’s literally like swimming upstream and we’re not salmon, so let’s just stop that!
Here are 3 simple tips to getting your mindset right with sugar:
Tip 1 | Take a Gradual Approach
Our starting place in getting into the proper mindset with sugar is NOT doing a complete sugar elimination right out the gate – unless you’ve been told to do so by a doctor because of health reasons. In that case, move beyond this tiny section and stay with me.
The reason for not kicking the sugar can all at once is we end up going into sugar withdrawal. Sugar withdrawal symptoms are both physical like sugar headache or lightheadedness and also mental like depression and anxiety.
Giving up sugar gradually with intention and discipline also allows you time to develop a healthier mindset around sugar which is better for you in the long run and what you really need. Many disagree with this stand but this is my experience.
The other reason for taking the gradual approach is your brain goes into a type of shock when it can’t have something it wants. And though it’s a perfectly healthy thing to tell your body no when it wants something, it’s also a much harder way to make lasting change.
You may be asking yourself, why am I cravings sweets so much lately? The answer is likely that you told yourself that you “can’t” have sugar anymore. All of a sudden you “must” have anything sweet and you’ll mow down anyone standing in your path!
The way I’ve dramatically reduced my sugar intake is to allow myself to have sugar with healthy boundaries. You may need to tighten your boundaries if you have a very strong sugar addiction, though.
Basically, it works like this: if I want something sweet I make myself work for it. I do an extra cardio workout or I allow myself a cookie but only after a lean and healthy meal.
I love lemonade, but I drink only water with my meals and if I want lemonade, I’ll have a very small glass after my meal. It’s more satisfying than you might think!
I don’t just go grab what I want when I want it. I’m training myself to put more thought and intention behind it. Sometimes, after all the work, I decide not to have the sweet treat anyway.
These methods really do work for me. I’m curbing my cravings while developing healthier lifestyle choices which serve my life better now and in the future!
Related: Self-confidence tips for the mom who struggles with self-esteem.
Tip 2 | Find Out When You Crave Sugar the Most
Understanding when you actually crave sugar is extremely important. Most of us have been hardwired to see sugar as a reward since we were kids. When we’re “good” we get a lollipop. Thanks, mom!
Now as adults when we want to reward ourselves we go “indulge” with some ice cream or a fancy cupcake at that new fun cupcake shop down the street. To replace these reward habits, we need to find something else to give us that shot of dopamine to the brain… and no I don’t recommend shopping! Sorry, my friend.
Choosing an activity that adds sweetness and health to our lives is best. It sends the message to your brain that when you did good, you’ll get more good! Try getting a massage, getting your nails done, going on a hike with friends, or even writing about your experience in a journal.
Having a cupcake in the moment doesn’t add any richness to your life and in fact often leads to feelings of guilt and even isolation. Doing something that feels good to your body and mind will keep you feeling good much longer than a pint of Ben and Jerry’s!
Oh, and this goes for eating when you’ve had a miserable day too! Emotional eating is most effectively eliminated when you see it and do something else good for yourself instead. It takes determination but you can do it!
Tip 3 | Start a Journal
The final step to getting your mind right is getting really connected with your mind and emotions. And the best way to do that is by baring your soul in a journal. This is not a food journal, though that’s great too.
This journal acts like a safe space to dump all your emotions and thoughts. A place where you can proactively work out your feelings without diving into a piece of cake.
I’ve been journaling for many, many years and the act of writing or typing my most personal thoughts, fears, and also my victories has helped me break through barriers that I thought were permanently fixed in my face.
The benefits of journaling are simply astounding and the habit of journaling for your overall health is worth giving a few minutes a day. You’ll find that getting connecting to you helps you find the purpose in your life that spurs you on to living a more enjoyable life… without the unrelenting need for cupcakes!
Find Natural Substitutes for Sugar
First off, I want to say that there is a very clear difference between eating chocolate covered donuts and eating almond butter stuffed dates. I’m not trying to fool anyone here!
But it is important to allow yourself to find natural and effective substitutes to kick your sugar cravings and reduce your overall sugar intake.
Simply telling yourself that you’ll only eat a quarter of that donut is never going to work. But finding other tasty foods that send sweet signals to the brain (but aren’t refined sugar) are really necessary to giving up or greatly reducing your sugar intake.
For example, I love coffee (hence the name of this blog!) but I was adding 4 heaping tbsp of sugar to my coffee every morning. And I always have more than one cup!
I found this amazing sugar substitute that’s made from all-natural monk fruit and tastes just like sugar with no bitter aftertaste. Total win!
Here are some simple and healthy sugar swaps you can try now:
- Swap white sugar for monk fruit
- Swap added sugar and even oil for unsweetened applesauce in baking recipes
- Swap fruit juice for the whole fruit. The fiber in the whole fruit helps your body metabolize the sugar better. For a satisfying beverage try infused water!
- Swap the flavored oatmeal packets for making your own plain oatmeal and adding few drops of maple syrup and cinnamon or make overnight oats.
- Swap bottled salad dressing for your own homemade dressings.
- Eat frozen treats with greek yogurt. Greek yogurt is high in protein and will help you curb more cravings down the road. Try these frozen blueberry and lemon bites!
Eat Foods that Curb Sugar Cravings
I just shared simple ways you can swap sugary foods for ones lower in sugar or no sugar, but there are also foods you can add plentifully to your diet that actually help you curb sugar cravings too!
Here’s a list of foods you should run out and buy to help you be successful in your journey to less or no sugar:
- Fruit and berries (yes fruit contains natural sugar but eating them whole with their fiber helps your body metabolize the sugar better.
- Dark chocolate
- Cinnamon (adding cinnamon to your coffee or tea helps increase sweetness and helps you add less sugar.
- Chia seeds. (add these to your overnight oats. Recipes above!)
- Veggies (adding a serving of veggies to every meal helps your body develop new healthy habits and find new healthier cravings.)
- Healthy fats. (healthy fats are known to help you lose weight but fats like avocado can help you bust sugar cravings too. Try making chocolate avocado mousse!
- Peppermint. (popping a mint in your mouth or even brushing your teeth can help stop a craving in its tracks.
How Essential Oils can Fight Cravings!
I know I said 3 tips, but here’s a simple bonus tip: use essential oils to fight your sugar cravings. Yes, essential oils can help you lose weight and stop cravings!
Grapefruit and peppermint oils are powerful plant extracts that work to reduce cravings. Keep them close by in a handy roller bottle or add a few drops to your diffuser bracelet and inhale when you’re feeling those dreadful cravings creeping in.
Learn more about the amazing power of essential oils here!