This week, we are talking about helping people avoid that evil craving for sugar. Sugar is in everything we eat, it seems. Even things we wouldn’t expect often contain sugar: salad dressings, peanut butter, hot sauces, even dried fruit usually has added sugar.
Unless you have an extreme level of self-control, especially when you are first trying to limit your sugar intake, cutting it out entirely isn’t the solution. This can lead to an increase in cravings because now you see sugar as forbidden. You may also start to romanticize sugar. “Remember how we used to sit around on Saturday night watching a movie and enjoying a bowl of ice cream?”
Therefore, instead of avoiding it, you need alternatives. We aren’t talking about processed alternatives, like eat a protein bar packed with a no calorie alternative instead of a candy bar. We are talking about finding all natural alternatives, subbing in different kinds of foods, and ways to limit our intake.
The most common way to limit intake of sugar is to find natural alternatives. Instead of the candy bar, eat a banana. Don’t grab a scoop of ice cream, go for a scoop of yogurt. Instead of a handful of M&Ms, reach for a handful of grapes.
There are two primary reasons that natural alternatives are better than their processed sugar-packed counterparts. First, there is less sugar in general. A Snickers bar has over 25 grams of sugar with no fiber per bar. A banana has 14 grams of sugar and 3 grams of fiber. Second, natural sources come with other great macro nutrients and micro nutrients. A bowl of ice cream is almost entirely fat and sugar. A bowl of yogurt has less sugar and much higher protein. M&Ms have no nutritional value. Grapes contain antioxidants that are good for your heart health.
Substitute different kinds of food
Another alternative to eating sugar is to eat different kinds of food. For example, try eating something high in fat instead of high in sugar. Fat found in our food can stimulate the same area of our brain that sugar stimulates. When you are planning to grab that salad dressing with added sugar, try oil and vinegar as an alternative. If grapes aren’t cutting it for the M&Ms right now, try some peanuts.
A WORD OF CAUTION: If weight loss is part of your motivation for cutting back on your sugar intake, be careful with this alternative. Fat contains more calories per gram and sugar. Therefore, be careful you don’t end of mindlessly eating a bowl of nuts instead of ice cream. Start with a small quantity.
Limit your intake
As a final alternative, if you are simply unable to avoid the pull of the sugar, find ways to limit your intake. Avoid grabbing the bag of glazed pecans. Find a small bowl and put a small amount in the bowl. Don’t eat ice cream from the container. Get one scoop in a bowl and put the carton back in the freezer.
You can also try “healthier” alternatives that you bake as low sugar options. If you are looking for a sugary treat, search for “paleo” or “Whole 30” recipes. Here is one we like: Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins. When you make something like muffins, you can limit yourself to taking one muffin at a time. One muffin in the recipe we provided above has around 5-10g of sugar. Cupcakes have a lot more.
Here is a bonus alternative. When all else fails, when you can’t break that craving for sugar, get up and change your situation. You can try changing rooms in your house, take a hot shower, go for a walk, or even go tackle that chore you are avoiding. We want you to learn to control your cravings. However, if that just isn’t working right now, go do something else.