10 hacks to control sugar cravings

Diabetic patients may feel sugar cravings when their blood sugar level plummets. Photo: Shutterstock/Cast of Thousands

For most people, it is difficult to say ‘no’ to something sweet after a meal. However, overconsumption of processed sugar and sweetened food may cause not only diabetes but other health problems like obesity, fatty liver, high triglyceride levels, insulin resistance, high blood pressure and heart disease. Interestingly, many factors may increase our craving for sugar and sweet treats. Neurotransmitters like dopamine and serotonin are released while eating sweet. These hormones, called the happy hormones, surely make us feel happy and relaxed. So, the body seeks this state of happiness by carving sugar or sweet food items. Conditions like depression, mood swings, menopause, premenstrual syndrome and alcohol addiction that decreases the serotonin levels too increases sugar cravings.

Stress, depression, anxiety loneliness and the medications that are used to relax you too could cause severe cravings for sweets. Lack of sleep could affect the ghrelin and leptin hormones that signal your brain when your stomach is empty and provide a sense of satiety. This, in turn, would increase your sugar craving. We often gift chocolates and sweet treats to children to make them happy. Moreover, desserts are served on special occasions and during festivals. So, eating sweets has already become part of our culture and regular life.

Diabetic patients may feel sugar cravings when their blood sugar level plummets. So, when you eat sweets, the blood sugar level increases and causes variations. These variations, however, may even lead to weight gain. We need to limit our daily sugar intake to just five or six teaspoons (25 – 30 gm). You could try the following hacks to control sugar cravings healthily:
1. Hydrating the body
Dehydration may be mistaken as a craving for sugary treats. So, try drinking a glass of water when you feel like eating sweet.
2. Eat proper meals
Eating well-balanced meals that contain fibre, protein and other nutrients at proper intervals would make you feel full. Instead of refined carbohydrates, you could eat small grains, whole grains, fruits that do not increase the blood sugar level and lots of veggies too.

3. Know what you eat
Watching TV or scrolling on your mobile phone while having food is not a good habit. You should know what you are eating and be mindful of the quantity of food. Moreover, you should chew the food well and enjoy it.
4. Sleep and rest
Having a good night’s sleep and reducing stress might help you tone down your love for sweet dishes. Try to avoid gorging on sugary treats and desserts whenever you are stressed or have tension.

5. No ‘sugary’ gifts
Buying desserts or bakery items regularly may not be ideal. Try having a banana when you feel the craving to eat something sweet. Using artificial sweeteners will not reduce your sugar cravings.
6. Healthy drinks
Avoid drinking aerated drinks and juices that are loaded with sugar. Instead, sip on refreshing lemonade, tender coconut water or just plain drinking water.

7. Set your limits
If you are unable to avoid sugar, then try setting your limits. Make a firm decision that you won’t consume sugary food beyond certain calories.
8. Focus
Divert your focus to something else when you feel like eating sweets. You could phone a friend or go out for a stroll.

9. Chewing gum
Chewing sugar-free gums may be helpful for some people.
10. Exercise
Happy hormones like endorphins are produced when you work out. So, exercising regularly makes your body and mind happy and healthy. 

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