If your sugar craving is off the roof lately, you are not the only one. Stress makes you crave sugar more. This is because your brain reward system lights up and the feel-good chemical – dopamine is released when you bite into your favorite donut
The difficult part is that when your reward system is activated, it reinforces your behavior, making you more likely to look for sugary snacks to get that high again.
And in this time of uncertainty, the longer we feel stressed, the easier it is for us to reach to that can of soda and that chocolate bar, repeating the cycle of sugar addiction again. And if you’re done with sugar, here are five tips on how to control your sugar cravings even if you are in stress.
Related reading: What Do Your Crazy Food Cravings Tell You ?
1. Try the natural alternatives
Try switching out the sugary drinks and snacks to more natural alternatives like fruits.
Not only fruits can help you with your sugar craving because they are naturally sweet, but they also contain tons of beneficial vitamins, minerals, and fiber inside them.
The best way to eat is them is to eat them raw because they contain a lot of nutritious compounds inside them. However, if you want to mix it up, turn the fruits into homemade smoothies.
If you have an intense sugar craving, try this mango detox smoothie. Not only it will hit the right spot, but also help you feel satisfied and fulfilled.
In addition to helping you with your sugar cravings, fruits, vegetables, green leaves, and nuts will also help to relieve your stress. For instance, green leaves and vegetables, as well as nuts, seeds, beans, and others are full of magnesium, a mineral that is depleted by stress.
It has an important role in controlling your blood sugar and energy production. To incorporate these stress-relieving nutrients, try these anti-stress green smoothies. Your body and your mind will love you for it!
Related reading: Sugar Detox : Supercharge Your Health in 5 Simple Steps
2. Cook your own food
Now is the perfect time to learn cooking at home. And eating sugar-free doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy or make sweet things. For instance, try this Dalgona coffee recipe that is sugar-free, low carb, and keto-friendly. It uses Swerve, a sugar replacement that does not affect your blood glucose.
Research has also shown that cooking can produce a therapeutic effect on the body’s stress response similar to meditation, such as the reductions in blood pressure, heart rate, and slower respiration.
This is a two in one solution. The less stressed you are, the lower your sugar cravings. You have a say on what is in your food, making it easier for you to manage your cravings and keeping you accountable.
If you don’t know where to start, that’s okay! Making your meals doesn’t have to be complicated. You can start by knowing basic cooking skills such as:
– Chopping and cutting vegetables into cubes and julienne strips.
– Making basic soups, salads, and dressings.
– How to choose healthier food options such as using whole grain alternatives (quinoa, brown rice) instead of white bread, white rice. Here is a guide on whatever healthy stuff.
– Be able to search for simple and healthy recipes online.
If you want some recommendations, check out these awesome, gluten-free, and sugar-free recipes that you can make right away!
3. Don’t give up. Try something new instead
If you have been binging for a couple of days and feel incredibly guilty about it, just know it’s okay and you’re not the only one. When the stress is high and you’ re stuck at home, food can seem like the only thing that is comforting right now.
However, don’t forget to get back up and try eating healthy again. This is a great time to change your relationship with food in a positive way. There’s no social pressure from eating out with other people, more time at home to think about what you should, and more time to look for recipes and cook for yourself.
And while the boredom and closer proximity to the kitchen may make you snack more often, you still have control of what will be in the snack cabinets and the fridge.
Eat fulfilling meals to reduce your hunger signals which can help with the cravings. Foods like oats, Greek yogurt, chia seeds, nuts, and fruits like banana and apples are healthy, low-calorie, fulfilling foods that can help you stay satisfied for longer.
Track your progress to keep yourself in check and accountable. It can also serve as a source of encouragement to do better on your journey. You can do that through journaling and/ or use a food tracking app like MyFitnessPal to keep daily nutrient intake in check.
4. Get active
And no it doesn’t have to be intense cardio or something crazy. Go for a short walk if it’s safe enough in your area. According to a 2015 study on the effect of walking on sugar craving, short and quick exercise like walking can help reduce sugar cravings.
The study found that physical activity can regulate the urge to consume snack food. Additionally, exercises will release endorphins, which is a feel-good chemical, which will help control your cravings and decrease your stress level.
If you can’t go outside and take a walk, Youtube has a lot of great free yoga and Pilates home workout that will help increase your flexibility and core power.
If working out is not your thing, that’s okay. Cleaning your house, do some gardening, and even cooking will also work. Any activity (including dancing in your room) that encourages you to move your body and get off your couch will do the job.
5. Getting a good night sleep
A new study published by the American Heart Association explains the link between sleep deprivation and increase food cravings. The researchers found that poor sleep quality may lead to over consumption of food and calorie intake.
This is because of insufficient sleep results in the stimulation of hunger signals, leading to cravings for sugary and unhealthy comfort foods.
A lack of sleep also makes it more likely for your body to produce more of the stress-response hormone cortisol. Late-night eating is more likely to occur because the hormone that tells you that you are full – Leptin is at a lower level.
To get a good night’s sleep, try to sleep and wake up at a similar time every day. Do something relaxing before bed like meditation, listening to music, or do some yoga. These activities will help to lower cortisol levels, making you feel less stressed and easier for you to get to sleep.
At the end of the day, it’s hard to remain calm during this time. We are in a pandemic after all. But don’t forget to take care of yourself.
Eat more fruits and vegetables, cook some food, do some exercise, and get some sleep. Your body will thank you later.
What is your go-to snack? Mine is this almond and dark chocolate yogurt fruit dip.
Tell me yours in the comment section below!
Nghi Doan is a professional health and wellness writer who writes converting blog posts for health and wellness brands. You can find her on her website.
Image by Brooke Lark