The dietary disaster that we've tried so hard to avoid the rest of the year rears its ugly head once again. I know that if I don't take serious action, I become a complete sugar addict over the holidays, and this bad habit carries over into the New Year.
So over the years, I've come up with a few ways to fight my sugar cravings:
- Limit caffeine: According to one study, done by nutrition researchers at the University of Guelph in Ontario, caffeine was shown to increase blood glucose levels by 24 percent. Naturally, when your blood sugar dips back down, your body begins craving sweetness.
- Stay hydrated: When I'm dehydrated, I tend to crave sugar; but instead of giving in to the craving, I up my water intake. The body needs water in order for the blood to flow with the right amount of pressure. Not only does the drinking water keep my sugar cravings down, it also helps my body function properly.
- Exercise: Exercise oxygenates the body and increases endorphins, which leaves us feeling great. Whenever I'm feeling down, I first think about grabbing a chocolate bar. After I remember that's a bad idea, I do at least 30 minutes of exercise, and start felling better.
- Sleep better: Sometimes it seems like sleep can cure anything. According to a 2008 study from researchers at the University Hospital of Leicester NHS Trust in the UK, better sleep may offer the energy boost you need to cure those candy bar cravings. Around the holiday season, try to get to bed at least 30 minutes earlier than you normally would.
- Avoid foods labeled "fat free" or "low fat:" These foods usually contain more sugar than their full fat counterparts, because they have to make up for losing the flavor from fat.
- Eat fruits and sweet vegetables: When I really can't kick that sugar craving, I go ahead and eat something sweet – but I also make sure it's healthy. Fruits and vegetables are a great alternative to candy and cupcakes.
- Use natural sweeteners: If you still need a little boost of sugar, use the natural stuff. A few examples of natural sweeteners are brown rice syrup, palm sugar and stevia. They will help alleviate your craving for something sweet without adding too many calories.
- Find sweetness in life: Whenever I'm feeling happy and fulfilled, I've noticed I'm much less likely to crave sweets. When you find sweetness in your life, no additives are needed.
Healthy Bites appears on MyHealthNewsDaily on Wednesdays. Deborah Herlax Enos is a certified nutritionist and a health coach and weight loss expert in the Seattle area with more than 20 years of experience. Read more tips on her blog, Health in a Hurry!