Understanding that cravings are the result of imbalances in the body helps us understand how to address them, and even better, prevent them from occurring!
In Part 1 of this series, you learned:
- Why greater willpower isn’t the solution to overcoming cravings
- How nutrient deficiencies can lead to cravings
- How refined sugars and artificial sweeteners contribute to ongoing cravings
In Part 2 of this series, you learned:
- The underlying imbalances that cause cravings (such as gut imbalances, hormone, and blood sugar imbalances)
- How stress and adrenal fatigue affects the way we metabolize food
- Learning the difference between emotional eating and cravings will help you cultivate a healthy relationship with food
Now, in Part 3 we’re going to cover the 6 ways you can prevent cravings. Implementing these strategies will help you retrain your taste buds (so that you’ll start to have a distaste for refined sugar), balance your blood sugar levels, and reduce cravings dramatically.
1.Avoid refined and added sugars
This step cannot be overlooked because it is one of the most powerful ways to effectively reduce sugar cravings. Avoiding refined and added sugars will help reduce cravings as you retrain your taste buds to enjoy natural sugars, like those found in fruit.Watch out for hidden sugars in products you buy. Believe it or not, sugar is added to almost all processed food products.
Here are some examples of products that often contain hidden sugars. Be sure to check out my Thrive Market shopping list for healthy versions of these items.
- Protein Bars
- Frozen meals
- Lunch meats
- Dips & Sauces
- Crackers & Chips
- Chewing gum
- Pre-made beverages
- Salad Dressings
Want to detox from refined sugars? Join us in the Facebook group for our Sugar Detox challenge!
2. Know your triggers!
It’s essential to learn what triggers cravings in your life. Maybe it’s lack of sleep, a stressful situation, or as simple as a habit that has become the ‘norm’ for you. This will help you understand the root causes of your cravings, which you can learn more about in Part 1 and Part 2. Without identifying your triggers, it is difficult to address cravings in a sustainable way.
Once we identify triggers, we can start to understand them and respond with healthy choices. To accomplish this, I recommend keeping a journal either in your phone or on paper. It’s best to include everything you eat alongside your triggers, what you’re craving and when, symptoms, etc. Knowing your triggers teaches you a lot about yourself and empowers you to eliminate cravings.
3. Choose low glycemic-load foods
Glycemic load is a better indicator than glycemic index of how a particular food affects your blood sugar, as it considers both the quality and quantity of carbohydrate.
Foods with glycemic loads of 10 or less are considered low glycemic load, while anything with a glycemic load above 20 is considered a high glycemic load food.
High Glycemic Load
When you eat food with a high glycemic load, it is digested and absorbed, then sugar is rapidly released into the blood sugar. Excess insulin (the hormone that works to bring blood sugar down) is released in response to the large amount of sugar. Blood sugar falls quickly, and once we experience this ‘crash’ we reach for another high glycemic load food to get our blood sugar back up.
This is why it can seem impossible to break the cycle of eating sugary foods, but once you have stabilized blood sugar by regularly consuming foods with low glycemic loads, you won’t experience the dramatic drop in blood sugar that leads to craving sugary foods.
Over time, eating primarily high glycemic foods leads to insulin resistance, a major contributing factor of chronic inflammation, obesity, diabetes, metabolic syndrome, etc.
Some examples of high glycemic-load foods are fruit juices, dates, and raisins.
*Note that healthy, real foods can still have high glycemic loads – it isn’t just processed, sugary foods that can have high glycemic loads.
Low Glycemic Load
When you eat a low glycemic load food, it is digested and absorbed, then sugar is slowly released into the blood sugar. This means insulin will be released at the appropriate pace, rather than dumped into the bloodstream after a spike in sugar.
Eating low glycemic load foods not only balances blood sugar levels, but also causes you to burn fat, increase muscle mass, reduce inflammation, and so much more.
Examples of low glycemic-load foods are berries, melons, oranges, and kiwi.
You can search for the glycemic index and load of foods here.
4. Avoid long gaps without food by having the right kind of snacks in between meals
How many hours do you go without eating? If it’s around 5-8+ hours, this could be contributing to your sugar cravings, as your body tries to get your blood sugar levels back up.
Choosing healthful, nutrient-rich, snacks that are high in healthy fat such as avocado, nuts and seeds will keep you feeling full longer and prevent that spike in blood sugar.
For even more tips and guidance, join the Sugar Detox in the private Facebook group.
5. Eat healthy fat every day
Consuming healthy fat each day is essential for preventing cravings. If you know that the majority of your daily intake is carbohydrates, you’ll be faced the blood sugar imbalances mentioned here and above. Relying on carbs as your primary source of energy leads to the spikes and crashes in blood sugar, which ultimately contributes to cravings.
Relying on healthy fat for fuel prevents blood sugar spikes, keeps you satisfied longer, and reduces cravings. It also helps to train your body to burn fat, rather than sugar.
A few examples of healthy fat include avocado, coconut oil and coconut meat, nuts (almonds, walnuts, cashews) and seeds (chia and flax seeds), and olives.
Related: 4 Important Facts About Nuts
6. Stay hydrated
Sometimes we experience cravings simply because we’re dehydrated and our bodies are trying to get some water through the food we eat. If you know you’re not drinking enough water, try increasing your water intake and watch how this impacts cravings.
A good guideline to follow is to drink half your weight in ounces of water each day. Opt for a high-quality water filter that effectively filters out contaminants, while leaving beneficial minerals in your water.
Do you follow any of these steps to prevent cravings? Be sure to join the Sugar Detox Challenge in the Facebook Group.
Hannah is the founder and health educator at Healthfully Hannah, empowering women to live healthfully through science-based, step-by-step guidance. Read Hannah’s personal health journey that led her to discover the power of Functional Medicine and Nutrition. Feel free to send Hannah a message here.
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