Our week of sugar free eating has started! Thanks to everyone who joined this week. It should be exciting to see how everyone does. I am still sorting out what topics should have priority this week, but the question that seems to loom the most for many of you is how to deal with sugar cravings. I will address that first.
Hopefully some of you took my advice and slowly weaned yourself off of sweets this weekend, but even if you did, you may find yourself with some serious cravings. I wanted to offer just a few tips that have really helped me (and please feel free to share your tips in the comment section).
Let the Craving be a Reminder
First, let your sugar cravings be a reminder of why you are doing this sugar fast. I think that all of us doing this challenge don’t want to be controlled by our desire for sweets. It really shouldn’t be that hard to go a week without sweeteners, or even just white sugar and white flour. But, yet, it can be very difficult for many of us. One friend told me that she would get a headache any day that she didn’t eat a dessert, another would crave it (even when she had already had a dessert), another would be unable to resist sweets. Food addictions are hard to beat, but generally only for the first few days to a week. Let the cravings remind you why you are doing the sugar fast, and remind yourself that you won’t feel like that forever.
To encourage you, I can say from my own life, that it does get easier once you have removed white sugar completely from your diet. It really does. And we can impact our families so much too! When my four year old daughter started eating food, it was really interesting to see what foods she liked. She did not like sweet food for a long time (though she definitely likes sweets now!). I believe a big reason why was because I ate a very low sugar diet (out of necessity) when she was nursing. It was so encouraging to see her love eating nourishing foods from the get go. All to say, it can be both humbling and motivating to realize how much impact we have on our children. (By the way, now that she has experienced other foods that are not so nourishing, I have to really work at keeping her taste buds aligned to a more nourishing diet. ).
Lacto-Fermented Foods and Drinks
Lacto-fermented foods can really help with sugar cravings. First, for some reason something sour seems to counteract the craving for something sweet. Since fermented drinks and foods are sour, that alone helps. But even more, they provide probiotic support that directly counteracts the sugar loving bacteria in our bodies. Homemade sauerkraut, if you have it on hand, is great, or coconut kefir, milk kefir, yogurt. At some local health food stores, you can sometimes find locally made lacto-fermented sauerkraut and other lacto-fermented veggies.
Apple Cider Vinegar
Along the same lines, raw apple cider vinegar is also thought to be helpful with sugar cravings. Over at The Body Ecology Diet, they recommend taking two teaspoons of raw apple cider vinegar in 6 ounces of water when you are experiencing a sugar craving.
But sometimes, I find that my sugar craving is really a craving for comfort. If this is the case, sitting down with a gentle brew of tea does the trick for me. You can sweeten it a bit with honey (if you are allowing it) or stevia, or have it plain. I also find that it’s more satisfying with some cream or coconut milk in it.
Good Fat Snacks
Especially when I am pregnant, I’ve found that when I crave sweet things, I am actually craving calories. When I’ve allowed myself to get too hungry and my blood sugar too low, I want to snack on the nearest scone, muffin, or cookie. I’ve found that, first, having good fats in my regular meals to be helpful. And second, to eat something with good fats when I am craving something sweet. Examples include, avocado, nuts, tea with cream, etc.
Keep Your Blood Sugar Even
But it’s even better not to allow yourself to get too hungry and be tempted. Keep your blood sugar even by eating regular meals and snacks and it will certainly be easier to avoid sugar snacks. I think that it’s important to eat a really nourishing diet to help with any type of food craving.
Amino Acid Help
In the book, The Mood Cure, the author recommends taking two supplements to help with sugar and carb cravings.
“The mineral chromium helps keep blood sugar level stable, but it gets used up by a high-carb diet. Putting more back into your body as a supplement restores blood sugar stability (even more diabetics). It also eases the cravings for carbs that erupt during blood sugar drops….. Glutamine is an amino acid that your brain can use an am emergency substiitude fuel when you haven’t eaten recently or have been eating too many carbs and your blood sugar level is too low. This glucose stand in stops the impulse to ran to the candy machine when it’s low blood sugar time. This, of course, saves your adrenals from overworking. L-glutamine can stop carb cravings and get you feeling steady and even within ten minutes (less if you open a capsule and place the contents under your tongue. “
She recommends taking 500-1500 mgn of l-gulutamine on awakening, in the midmorning and in the midafternoon and taking 200 mg of chronmium with breakfast, lunch, dinner and at bedtime.
I haven’t tried these remedies myself (and of course, you should always consult with your doctor first before trying out new supplements), but they are really supposed to help if your sugar cravings are caused by an uneven blood sugar.
Enjoy Natural Sweets
I think that it’s natural for us to want sweets in our diet, we’ve just overdone it as a culture. You can still satisfy your sweet tooth with natural sweeteners (such as raw honey or maple syrup), though I would still limit them, or with fruit. Squash and some grains are actually “sweet” as well, we just don’t realize it when we’ve been chowing down on cakes and cookies. If you are doing the beginner level of this challenge, check out my “Dessert” category for natural sweet ideas. If you are doing the moderate level of this challenge, you will soon find that without any concentrated sweeteners, your fruit will start seeming more and more sweet.
So those are my tips! What are some of yours? And how are you fairing so far in this challenge?