If you've ever felt possessed to eat an entire quart of chocolate chip cookie dough ice cream, multiple chocolate bars in one sitting, or a cupcake for breakfast, you're not alone. Sugar cravings are no joke, and excess sugar can lead to various health issues like weight gain and diabetes. POPSUGAR spoke with Allison Stowell, RD, about sugar cravings and the best ways to manage them whenever they sneak up.
Eat a Balanced Diet
Allison told POPSUGAR that consuming artificial sugars cause a temporary mood boost, but then leave us with low energy for the rest of the day due to the insulin fluctuation. To prevent experiencing a sugar crash the ensures a diet high in sugar, Allison recommends eating a balanced diet and not skipping meals.
Eat More Natural Mood-Boosting Foods
"There are definitely foods that have a benefit to our body in terms of boosting our mood and having different physiological impacts on our brain and our neurological system, to also be mood boosters or help with that pleasure feeling we might be getting when we consume sugar," said Allison. Instead of reaching into that bag of fun size candy opt for foods like nuts, fish, and even dark chocolate.
Opt For Dark Chocolate
If you seek out sugar when you're feeling stressed, chocolate can actually help you out. Research has shown that chocolate can help lower our cortisol levels (the stress hormone), and Allison backed this up saying that "all it takes is about an ounce consumed regularly and those stress factors are reduced." It may not be an entire chocolate bar, but hey, chocolate is chocolate.
Be More Mindful
Food is often the first thing we turn to when we're feeling stressed, sad, or angry, but we can help improve our relationship with food by practicing mindful eating. "It's important to slow down, tune into your body and your stomach versus your brain, and see what's calling for a particular food. If it's coming from our brain versus true hunger, that's when we want to take a moment to to pause and think about what it is that we are really seeking," said Allison.
Be Sure to Eat Proteins and Fats
While you don't need to cut out sugar completely, Allison recommends balancing it out with protein and/or some healthy fats in order to slow down the digestion of the sugars. She explained that pairing sugar with protein and fats will help to slow down the digestion process, and will give your satiety hormones enough time to kick in, providing you with the feeling of fullness that can help you manage the amount of sugar you're consuming.
Eat Fruits and Vegetables
Fruits and vegetables are another form of complex carbohydrates that will help slow down the digestion of sugars. Allison told POPSUGAR that, "As long as we're consuming them in good portion — so not an entire bag of grapes but a large handful — I don't worry about the amount of sugars in there."
Eat More Almonds
The next time you're craving sugar, Allison suggests eating some almonds instead. She explained that almonds are not only good for your heart health, but that tyrosine, one of the amino acids in almonds, can also induce dopamine production.