The key to reducing the cravings is as simple as eating less of sweets. Though for most of us, it may not be as simple as it sounds. So instead of being unrealistic and aiming to stop sugar consumption completely and being unfair on ourselves, we can curb our sugar intake by making realistic, gradual changes, as these:
Limit your stash: Remember not to cut back drastically as that may come as a shock to your body and honestly, it may lead to a binge later on. Resist temptation by slowly limiting your kitchen stash, especially your late-night snacks. Empty your cookie jar bit by bit every day, and start replacing sweets by fruits and other healthy yet sweet alternatives. Also remember to begin your day with the right breakfast. Keep unsweetened food items like plain yoghurt, whole grain cereal handy, replacing calorie-rich doughnut or pastry, for breakfast.
Say no to artificial sweeteners: As per a 2013 study at Yale University, our brain is not fooled easily by artificial sweeteners; the study looked at a specific brain signal involved in differentiating between real sugar and no- or low-calorie sweeteners, dopamine. The brain seems to find more satisfaction from the real deal than artificial sweeteners, which means we may consume higher sugar-laden alternatives even after the artificial sweeteners. Research also suggests that the sweeteners may prevent our brain from associating sweetness with caloric intake, so we may crave more sweets over healthy food.
Work it out: Research says that in addition to the health benefits that come with exercise, it also lowers our desire for unhealthy food. Dehydration is often masked as hunger, which we mistake for body’s need for sugar. The next time your body seems to be low on sugar, drink a tall glass of water and wait for 15–20 minutes, and the craving may disappear. Remember to work out regularly, even if that means brisk walk, and drink water if you feel hungry at odd times during the day.
There are a few food items that have sneaky sources of added sugar, such as energy bars, lattes, smoothies, tomato sauce and salad dressing. Remember to check the ingredient list before you buy products off the supermarket shelves – molasses, organic cane sugar, malt sugar, corn syrup, juice concentrate and in fact most words ending in “ose” such as lactose, sucrose, fructose are all names of sugar. Here’s a more comprehensive list to help save you from sugar overload.