Every now and then, you feel a nagging desire to eat something sweet. Many factors can lead to these cravings—from hormones to stress and boredom. If you want to eliminate the temptation once and for all, it’s important to understand the root of your cravings. If you’re looking to cut back on the amount of sugar you consume, there are ways you can do so without feeling deprived or missing out on the foods you like. With just a little planning, that temptation can become a thing of the past. Here are seven tips for helping reduce your sugar intake that won’t involve giving up dessert forever:
1. Identify the root of your craving
If you find yourself craving sweets more often than you’d like, it’s important to figure out why. If you’ve been dieting for a few weeks and suddenly find yourself craving sugar more than usual, it may be an indication that you’ve reached a mental barrier and need to take a break from restricting. If you’re looking to cut back on sugar intake, it’s a good idea to figure out what triggers your sugar cravings. Once you have that information, you can find ways to reduce those cravings without feeling deprived.
2. Create a meal plan
If you find yourself craving sugary foods more often than usual, creating a meal plan can help you curb those cravings. When you plan your meals, avoiding heavy desserts and other sweets becomes a lot easier. Instead, pair protein-heavy foods with vegetables, healthy fats, and a serving of fiber-packed fruit. To help curb your sugar cravings, pair protein-rich foods, such as salmon and almond butter, with vegetables, like carrots and edamame, and fibrous fruits, like blueberries and oranges, for dessert.
3. Stay active
Exercise boosts your metabolism, helping your body burn more calories, even while you sleep! Sweets are often referred to as “empty calories” because they contain few nutrients. To reap the health benefits of eating healthy, be sure to also increase your activity level. Exercise is beneficial to your cardiovascular health in addition to helping reduce stress.
4. Don’t let your environment tempt you
When you spend your day immersed in images and messages promoting high-sugar consumption, you may find yourself craving those foods more often. Make an effort to keep healthy foods easily accessible to you. This will help reshape your perception about eating things that are only healthy for you, rather than focusing on things that have no nutritional benefits.
5. Substitute with vegetables
While there are many benefits associated with eating healthy foods in general, you may be surprised to learn that one of the best ways to reduce your sugar intake is to eat more vegetables. Vegetables are low in calories, fiber, and sodium, making them a great source for replacing sugar in your diet. A cup of vegetables, like broccoli, contains only 30 calories, compared to 100 calories in a cup of sugar-sweetened cereal. A diet low in sugar and high in vegetables is also likely to be low in saturated fat, which has been linked to reducing heart disease. So, when you replace sugary foods with vegetables, you can reap the health benefits of reducing your sugar intake while still getting the taste of sweetness.
6. Plan ahead for your sweet cravings
Planning can help you reduce the amount of sugar in your diet. To help you do this, try to replace high-sugar beverages, such as soda and juice, with water. Furthermore, vegetables have been shown to help reduce sugar intake by blocking the absorption of sugar in your body. Another tip for keeping your sugar intake low is to eat breakfast. Studies show that people who eat a healthy breakfast tend to consume less sugar throughout the day. While getting enough protein at every meal is essential, getting it before your sweet treats is even more critical.
7. Boost your protein during breakfast
A frequent complaint among those trying to reduce their sugar intake is that they miss their favorite desserts. An excellent way to avoid missing out on the foods you love is to incorporate protein-rich foods into your breakfast. Protein-rich foods, like eggs and nuts, help to fill you up and keep you full longer, helping you avoid snacking on high-calorie, high-sugar foods later in the day. Consuming protein before your sweets will break down, making it more difficult for your body to store fat.
Trying to cut back on your sugar intake when you’re craving sweets every once in a while can be frustrating. There are ways to make it easier to curb your sugar cravings without feeling deprived or missing out on the foods you enjoy. Identify what triggers your cravings, create a meal plan to keep you full, stay active, drink lots of water, and don’t let your environment tempt you; and you should begin to notice a difference in your sugar cravings.