Sugar is a very powerful carbohydrate which has been shown to have an effect on the brain to that of an addictive drug. In fact, if you, all of a sudden, stop your regular sugar consumption or remove it from your diet, it can cause withdrawal symptoms including fatigue, depression, headaches and muscle aches therefore, it is not easy to quit sugar.
In an interview with HT Lifestyle, Luke Coutinho, Co-Founder of Youcarelifestyle, explained, “A sugar craving is an emotional or psychological dependence on sugar or sugary foods to feel better. Our bodies release opioids and dopamine when we eat sugar. It is the neurotransmitter dopamine that plays a crucial role in the reward circuit of addictive behavior. When a particular behavior releases an excess amount of dopamine, you feel a pleasurable high, which makes you want to repeat the experience. Every brain cell is fuelled by sugar. Sugar is also perceived as a reward by your brain, which makes you want more of it. The more sugar you consume, the more you reinforce the tip. It may be difficult for you to break the habit, but it’s not impossible!”
He revealed 5 healthy hacks to beat sugar cravings:
1. Sniffing essential oils like peppermint and dill stimulate the satiety hormone in the brain, fennel and cinnamon suppress appetite, and lavender and lemongrass improve stress levels.
2. A 15-minute walk can curb your chocolate cravings and even reduce your intake of chocolate during stressful situations, according to a study.
3. You might want to try substituting honey, jaggery, coconut sugar and stevia for natural sugar alternatives. However, it should be moderately done always.
4. If you’re craving sweets or chocolates, choose chocolates made from natural ingredients like dates, figs or dark chocolate.
5. A lack of sleep causes a hormone shift that increases Ghrelin, the hunger-controlling hormone. The lack of sleep also makes us crave sugary foods throughout the day, while all our body needs are adequate sleep. Those who have trouble sleeping should try Chamomile tea.
Asserting that beating sugar craving is not easy but not impossible, Dr Siddhant Bhargava, Fitness and Nutritional Scientist and Co-Founder of Food Darzee, suggested a few hacks to outsmart your sugar cravings in a healthy and effective way:
1. Start your day with high-protein breakfasts as they have been known to reduce sugar cravings.
2. It is important to eat your meal on time. Planning your meal in advance will help you prevent dips in blood sugar.
3. Keep yourself hydrated all the time. Dehydration is known to make us feel hungry. Moreover, adding lemon, berries or other such fruits to your water to make it more flavourful will ensure to keep your cravings at bay.
4. Whenever you feel the urge to have sugar, one of the effective ways to deal with it is to wait for some time and then change your environment. Talk a walk, or get into something. Distract yourself.
5. Satisfy your sugar cravings in a healthy way. Eat fresh vegetables such as sweet potatoes, carrots, beetroot. Other naturally sweet foods may include berries, bananas, coconut, dates, grapes, and cinnamon. High-fibre foods such as broccoli, cauliflower and kale will make you feel full longer than many quickly digested simple carbohydrates.
6. Trick your mind by eating something sour when you feel like having sugar. The sour flavour can stimulate your taste buds and distract you from the sugar craving.
7. Incorporate ginger and turmeric into your diet. It helps prevent insulin resistance and helps you balance your blood sugar.