Colder months are upon us, and what comes with that? Time and need to munch on yummy sugary foods, yeah! Who’s with me? I find that during the fall and winter I more often crave sugary processed foods, like cookies, donuts, chocolate, you name it. Every once and awhile those are totally fine to eat and enjoy in moderation, balance is key with a healthy lifestyle.
Just so you know, I have the biggest sweet tooth okay. So I’ll be the first to admit it is hard work trying to keep in under control. But I managed to find ways to acknowledge it and work with it. I and my sweet tooth are a team now, we are partners. So I want to share a few tips and trick with you, so you can get your sweet tooth to cooperate with you too.
First of all, we have to recognize cravings and figure out why do we have them? Well, having cravings for sugar is your body’s way of giving you some signals. Human body runs on sugar, it’s its primary source of energy, so naturally, you are drawn to anything sugary 24/7. Thanx body!
So what are some main reasons for having cravings for processed sugar? Maybe you didn’t eat enough of the right calories that day? Maybe you lack some of the essential nutrients and vitamins? Have you just finished the whole bag of candy and your blood sugar levels are on a rollercoaster?
Been there done that, I think we all have. But let’s see what the top ways to prevent sugar cravings from happening as much as possible are.
START THE DAY RIGHT!
You’ve heard of the saying ”the morning shows how the day will be” and that’s exactly what applies here. Starting a fresh new day on the wrong foot, with unhealthy breakfast is bound to make you fail on a long run. Or not even in the long run, but in the evening already, but we’ll talk about that later.
I find that a wholesome plant-based breakfast always sets me up for a successful day ahead. Imagine sleeping for 8 hours, while your body still has a lot of work to do, like pumping blood, breath, make new healthy cells, recharge, etc.
Mornings are the perfect time to fuel and nourish your body, literally. Your stomach and digestive system are empty and ready for a punch of nutrition. What you put into your body first thing in the morning is crucial!
My advice: start with a big glass of water, maybe put some lemon juice in it if you are feeling extra. Get your digestive track moving and grooving before you hit it with other good stuff. Since I usually don’t have a big appetite in the morning, I like to stick to fresh fruit or smoothies for breakfast. If you love making smoothies in the morning, a green smoothie is the best way to get greens and nutrients on an empty stomach! If you need a more filling smoothie, try this Berry breakfast smoothie or Chocolate peanut butter smoothie for a more caloric option.
But for those of you who are on the go, oatmeal is perfect! It’s a wonderful breakfast on the go, aside from smoothies. A complete meal with lots of fiber, complex carbs, protein, and nutrients.
EAT ENOUGH OF THE RIGHT CALORIES
No wonder you have cravings if you are not eating enough throughout the day. Our bodies need food to function, remember food is not the enemy. The only thing you want to pay attention to is choosing the right kind of food. Meals that will nourish and fuel you, give you energy, health, and life!
What do I mean by the right calories? Calories from whole plant-based foods will always be the best choice in my opinion. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t eat like an angel every single day. I love me some good veggie pizza or pasta. It’s what you eat on a regular basis that matters, what does your diet look like 80% of the time?
Don’t restrict yourself! If your nutrition consists of whole plant foods like vegetables, fruit, whole grains, nuts, and seeds, you can eat in abundance! Eat as much as you desire to.
If you are just starting to eat more healthy, maybe you could find some better alternatives to the foods you are used to eating. For example, when I order pizza, I choose a veggie option, and it’s fantastic! My favorite actually. Or pasta also, instead of regular white pasta, choose wholewheat spelt pasta, or you can even buy lentil or chickpea pasta nowadays, made 100% of lentils.
Make sure you consume enough plant-based protein and healthy fats during the day. Some great sources of protein are for example quinoa, legumes, beans, greens, tofu, oats, etc. Healthy fats are also going to keep you full and satisfied for longer, so make sure you incorporate some avocado, nuts, seeds, olives, and coconuts into your day.
Dietary fiber is so important for digestion and health in general. It’s actually relatively easy to get enough fiber in if you are eating predominantly whole food plant-based diet.
Fiber-rich food includes beans, legumes, whole grains, oats, nuts, chia seeds, rice, dark chocolate, fruit & vegetables.
To help you with your next food shopping, I made a pantry essentials list of all the must-haves for easy plant-based cooking.
REACH FOR FRUIT
Fruit > sugar. Sadly, some people still believe that eating fruit is just as bad for you because it contains a lot of sugar. Now obviously, everything we eat gets broken down into sugar (glucose) which is the body’s main source of energy = LIFE. What’s the difference between sugar in a chocolate bar and sugar in the fruit? Nutritional value!
Unfortunately, processed sugar has zero nutritional value, while fruit being a whole package also contains water, fiber, vitamins, and antioxidants. So basically, sugar from fruit is so much more beneficial for you than the processed sugar in candy and donuts. Those are for the soul, am I right?
There is always time for a donut in your life, but on a daily basis, please don’t restrict yourself thinking you can’t have fruit. You can reach for the fruit anytime you get a sugar craving! Also, not all fruit has the same amount of sugar in them; some have more some less. For example, bananas and dates are more calorie dense and will provide you with more energy then berries or citrus, so keep that in mind when snacking.
EAT SIMPLE WHOLE MEALS
Lack of ideas and cooking skills are not acceptable excuses anymore. The web is literally flooded with amazingly delicious recipes for anything and everything that comes to mind. But that said, eating as simple as possible is going to be healthiest in the sense of digestion and nourishment for the body.
Complicated meals mean complicated digestion, which leads to bloating, nutrient deficiency and low energy. Low energy leads to snacking, mostly on highly processed sugary foods which give you quick burst of energy…and even quicker crash. Very harmful cycle.
Simple whole plant-based meals get digested easily and quickly, providing you long-lasting energy and healthy body. And the best thing is, they are cheaper and easy to make. Win-win!
When you train your taste buds to more simple foods, even just roasted potatoes alone will taste heavenly! Omg, there is nothing better than a big green salad and baked potato wedges for dinner. If you are used to dipping your potatoes in ketchup, maybe next time try this Avocado and chickpea dip for more flavor and extra healthy fats!
Looking for some inspiration for your next quick and simple whole food meal? Try some of my plant-based wholesome recipes:
Best creamy chickpea curry (ideal for meal-prep)
10-minute vegan mushroom sauce (very creamy and rich!)
Hearty detox veggie soup (perfect for cold months)
High protein sweet potato soup (vitamin A booster)
Tomato black bean soup (fiber bomb)
This one is so important but often overlooked. There comes that time of day, when you are bored out of your mind, and all you can think about is food. Right? Yes, a story of my life, as my life is pretty uneventful. But anyway, it’s very important to notice are you really hungry or is there another issue going on?
I often reach for unhealthy snacks such as chocolate bars or chips, because I’m either stressed, emotional (that time of the month, right ladies?) or bored. This is a big issue because you can’t necessarily solve this one with food. In this case, I suggest maybe going for a walk or exercising to release some happy hormones in the body. My favorite workout is pilates; anyone else loves it?
When you exercise, the body also does this amazing thing, where is starts craving wholesome foods rather than processed ones. Helping us out for a change, huh.
Some other things that seem to help with emotional and stress eating:
- positive thoughts
- self-help & motivational books
- drinking water and tea throughout the day
- walks in nature
ESTABLISH HEALTHY HABITS
Establishing healthy habits with food and eating is essential to do, but quite tricky as well! Lets’ say that you have all the above in check, but you still get an insane sugar craving in the evening while watching TV. Why is that you think? Does it maybe have something to do with the fact that you’ve been eating in front of the TV your whole life?
Your mind already has a strong connection between watching TV and eating a bag of cookies. It’s not because you are really hungry. You ate all the right foods during the day, you’ve hit all the nutritional values for the day and yet here you are, with chocolate in your hand. This is my real life story I’m describing people.
The mind is playing tricks on us! It’s called bad habits, and the good news is, they can be changed. Waw, this one takes a lot of strength and discipline to conquer. You have to either break the connection between the activity (like watching TV or studying) and eating unhealthy foods OR replace the bad food with a healthy option.
Replacing the food with fruit or other healthy snacks is a good first step, but establishing healthy habits is a more longtime solution.
I hope these tips to overcome sugar cravings help you in your path to a healthy lifestyle. We all have sugar cravings, and it’s good for our mind and soul to give in sometimes and have a few donuts and chips.
Bad habits and eating out of boredom are my weaknesses for sure. Tell me in the comments, which one of these tips is the hardest for you to do? I want to know!
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