Sugar cravings are the worst, aren’t they? And conveniently, kicking sugar is a mainstay in just about any healthy diet shift. Want to lose weight and body fat? Cut the sugar. Want to build healthy and lean muscle mass? Cutting sugar will be part of the plan. Inevitably, significantly cutting down your sugar intake in the name of any health goal, even if it’s not fitness related, will lead to the dreaded sugar cravings. It might take a couple days, it might take a couple weeks, but at one point or another, your body will remind you that you’ve stopped giving it something it’s become very accustomed to: sugar.
Of course, you can always cave in. Just have a couple cookies and you’ll be fine, right? Most likely what you’re going to do is actually just run through an entire box of them, ruining your diet altogether. And suddenly those two good days or even that great week of healthy eating was all wiped out and the clock was set back to zero all thanks to the dreaded sugar craving.
So can sugar cravings actually be beat?
The truth is that sugar works in your body just like any drug. Consuming it feels good, triggering biological reward systems. Consume enough of it over time, as the common American does, and you’re creating a dependency on par with any other drug. Now cut yourself off from that dependency and again, just like with drug addiction, your body will start to slam you with feelings of withdrawal, aka sugar cravings in this case.
Carbohydrates and sugar cause a short glucose spike and impending crash that leaves us with cravings. The first and most sustainable way to curb those cravings is by swapping out high-carb diets with more healthy fats and quality protein. Swapping out these foods for your typical sugar-packed/carb-packed foods will satiate you for longer periods of time and provide more stable energy than the short-lived glucose spikes of a bag of chips or a few cookies. It typically can take a couple of weeks for your body to adapt to this type of anti-inflammatory diet, and eventually your cravings virtually disappear. It does take some discipline, though.
And that leads us to our second conundrum. How does a person get over that two to three-week hump of sustained clean eating and the magical disappearance of sugar cravings? The first is often to clear your kitchen. Getting rid of unhealthy snacks that are always within reach late at night also takes away your need for willpower. You don’t have to resist cookies if there are no cookies to resist. If you must have sugar specifically, dark chocolate (85% or darker) is always good to have in emergencies but only in a short enough supply that you won’t end up consuming hundreds of calories in one sitting. Next up, stock up on snack foods like nuts and quality meats like pastured pepperoni, and even jerky. By turning to these foods in small amounts when you start to feel those sugar cravings creeping up you’ll slowly but surely work toward that moment when the cravings disappear. Is it easy? Not really. But whatever your health or fitness goal may be, just know that there’s light at the end of the tunnel with a little bit of discipline.