Eat Smart to Lose Fat

HELPING WOMEN GET LEAN, HEALTHY AND CONFIDENT

Break Your Sugar Addiction: How to Curb the Cravings

Sugar in moderation can be part of a healthy diet. The key is to ensure we are getting adequate nutrient intake from our food. By making smarter food choices, you will be able to eat less sugar without feeling deprived.  

Our bodies are biologically wired to want sugar. It’s a main component of our survival and, in the modern era, found in everything from cereal to sauce. These factors all make it very easy to overeat sugars in ways that are no longer healthy, resulting in a heavily processed diets and cravings that feel outside of our control.

However, it may not actually be sugar you are craving, but the hyperpalatable combination of sugar, fat, and salt.  

Hyperpalatable foods are treats like cookies, candies, cakes, and doughnuts, that we tend to eat even when we’re not hungry. While in moderation these foods are perfectly safe to include in our diet, the trick is to make sure we are filling up on nutrient rich foods first. 

To learn more about sugar intake and how to curb your cravings, read more below.

How Much Sugar Is Okay?

Most people in the United States are eating 19 teaspoons or more of added sugar a day. According to research from the American Heart Association, that number is too high. For women specifically, the AHA recommends no more than 6 teaspoons daily.

So why are we craving so much sugar? There’s two possible reasons. 

  1. Sugar produces a quick hit of energy along with elevated mood. This is because the simple carbohydrates in sugar are quickly turned into glucose, resulting in a blood sugar spike.

    For individuals with low mood and low energy, this makes sugar a quick fix from inconvenient symptoms.
  2. You might not be getting enough nutrients.

    Because the body knows that sugars are found in other simple carbs such as fruits, veggies, and dairy products, your body may actually be craving nutrition. This signal gets misinterpreted as wanting something sweet, and the resulting dietary choices goes directly against what your body needs.  

These reasons shed some light on why we want sugar– they also give us clear ways to combat cravings. Instead of cutting sugar out of your diet, focus on how you can add nutrition back in.

The Power of Protein

Eating protein is a great way to manage sugar cravings without creating a blood sugar spike. High-protein foods digest more slowly, keeping you feeling full for longer. 

Choose proteins like chicken, yogurt, eggs, nuts, or cottage cheese, and aim for 0.8-1.0 grams of protein per pound of your target body weight each day.

Fill Up on Fiber

Fiber is a powerful tool against our desire for sugary treats without elevating blood sugar. An added bonus? High-fiber foods create the same energy boost many people seek from sugar, all while making us feel full longer. 

Pick fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, and aim for 25-30 grams of fiber each day.

Set Yourself Up For Success

Any time we make an effort to change our nutrition, there is an adjustment that takes place on both a psychological and physical level. We are training both the body and mind to accept a new and different pattern, meaning we need to go slow to ensure we can be successful in the long term. 

While the ways in which a person can approach this are varied and personal, I have listed some of my most recommended success strategies below. 

Start Small

It’s important to make small, simple, changes that fit well into your daily routine. These changes will be the easiest to maintain in the long run while also serving as the building blocks for larger changes later on. 

Some ideas could include drinking more water, eating more fruits, and getting into the habit of reading food labels. Sometimes our most meaningful first steps are the new habit we form, rather than the old habits we leave behind. 

Different Desserts

Come up with smarter options for treats and desserts.  Try adding fresh berries to some yogurt, or even a cup of sugar free jell-O with a squirt of Reddi-Wip on top.  Yasso Greek yogurt bars have a moderate amount of sugar, but average 5-6 grams of protein.  Try apple slices with a Tablespoon of peanut butter.

Think about what some of your favorite sweet (and nutritious) foods are, then begin building a variety of dessert options around those ingredients.

Moderation is Key

To help guide yourself with moderation, try using the 80/20 Rule.  80% of your food is minimally processed, nutrient dense, whole foods.  20% of your food can be processed, less nutrient dense, and “fun” foods.

However, keep in mind that some individuals thrive on incorporating a bit of fun food into their diet on the daily while others don’t. It all depends on your personal dieting style. (For more information on this in particular, check out my article on the topic, here.)

Out of Sight, Out of Mind

Set your environment for success.  Remove the hyperpalatable foods from your immediate environment.  If you have these foods in your house for your family members, keep it in opaque containers in out of sight spots.  You can even buy single serve packages to limit serving size.

Should I do a Detox?

Detox products like “poop” teas or juice cleanses aren’t necessary.  Our body does an amazing job of detoxing on its own.  

I also believe cutting sugar out of your diet “cold turkey” is entirely unnecessary. Remember, we want long term success– that means small, incremental, and manageable stages. This boosts success and prevents relapse. 

Remember– there’s no rush. There is always next week to lower your sugar intake just a little bit more.  

Get Moving

Exercise produces the feel-good hormones called endorphins.  When you’re fighting a sugar craving, move your body and have the endorphins take care of the craving for you!  Take a brisk walk or dance to some music. Work up to 150 minutes of exercise throughout the week.

Sugar is Sneaky

Food labels don’t always list the word “sugar.” Watch out for other names such as:

  • Agave nectar
  • High-fructose corn syrup
  • Dextrose
  • Evaporated cane juice
  • Glucose
  • Lactose
  • Malt syrup
  • Molasses
  • Sucrose

As you get into a habit of reading food labels, start looking for these common buzz words to make you a more informed consumer. This gives you a greater understanding of what you’re putting into your body and how it might affect your weight loss. 

Conclusion

Sugar in moderation can be part of a healthy diet. The key is to ensure we are getting adequate nutrient intake from our food. By making smarter food choices, you will be able to eat less sugar without feeling deprived.  

For more information about simplifying fat loss, check out this article.  For personalized recommendations, reach out for more information about my 1:1 nutrition coaching program. I can give you a clear plan to take the guesswork out of reaching your goals.

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