Magnum ice-cream, double-triple chocolate fudge cake, white bread with butter and Nutella on top, followed by some of the homemade cookies your friend brought over the other day. If I have a sugar craving, I can eat all of them within one hour! Do I feel bad after having eaten all this crap? Well, I don’t feel guilty, but energy wise I definitely feel the consequences. When I hit the gym the next day, my body is really tired and I lack the usual energy. That’s why I hate sugar cravings and I did some research about them.
First I wanted to understand what triggers sugar cravings. Simply enough, it’s always one of the following reasons:
- I was starving because somehow I couldn’t get hold of food
- The monthly hormone imbalances
- Something or someone upset me
- I am frustrated because I couldn’t work out
I am obviously trying to compensate previous hunger or emotional frustration with sugar. Research proves that “sweet” is the first taste humans prefer from birth. Carbohydrates stimulate the brain to produce the feel-good chemical serotonin. The taste of sugar also releases endorphins that calm and relax us and offer a natural “high”.
SO BASICALLY, NATURE IS AGAINST US. And all that advise like “go out and run” or “eat an apple” is definitely not going to save us from sugar cravings.
Here is a victim telling you what really works:
- Remove refined sugar from your diet. Avoid anything with sugar, brown sugar, fructose, glucose, maltose, syrup or fruit juice concentrate
- Ban artificial sweeteners as well, they may cause you weight gain. Real sugar allows your body to accurately determine that it has received enough calories, thereby activating satiety signaling. But with artificial sugar, your appetite is activated by the sweet taste, but your body keeps waiting for the calories to come and sensations of hunger remain, often ending in a sugar craving
- Also don’t use natural sugar alternatives like honey, stevia or agave. The body is going to handle these in pretty much the same way it does highly refined sugars
- Eat an unprocessed diet, rich in veggies
- Drink lots of water. Spice it up with berries, apple or lime slices
- Don’t have many sweets accessible. If you cram chocolate bars into your fridge or office drawer, you will be tempted much more than if you had healthy snacks available
- Treat yourself with a small portion of your favorite dessert once in a week to prevent a sugar binge
Alternative desserts that will satisfy you when you have a sugar craving:
BLUEBERRY PANCAKES: 200g Quinoa, 1 tablespoon ground flaxseed, 375 ml almond milk, 2 free range organic eggs, 1/2 teaspoon baking soda, 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon, handful of blueberries, 2 smashed bananas. Combine quinoa, flaxseed and milk. Soak for at least one hour, but best overnight. Place into a blender along with cinnamon, eggs and baking soda. Fold the smashed banana and blueberries in the smooth and creamy mixture. Cook in a pan over low heat until golden.
CHOCOLATE ICE-CREAM: 1 frozen bananas, 1 tablespoons chocolate (protein) powder, 1/4 cup almond milk or coconut water. Mix all until smooth and creamy. Topping ideas: strawberries, raspberries, granola, nuts.
CHOCOLATE STRAWBERRIES: Put fresh strawberries on long BBQ sticks, dip them in raw dark chocolate, sprinkle with nuts and put them in a glass or vase to set. This is also a nice gift idea if you want to bring something homemade rather than the traditional flowers and chocolate.
Remember that the more you feed yourself with unsweetened, natural foods, the less you will crave the calorie bombs. So just try to cut out unnecessary sugar in order to avoid a craving, but be prepared for the case that you have one anyways.