With the holiday season just around the corner, there’s no doubt that it’s the sweetest time of the year. Curbing sugar cravings during the holidays can be a major challenge. What many do not realize is that overdoing it with sugar can have detrimental effects on your health. It’s way more than just an expanded waistline. Studies show that excess sugar intake can negatively impact your heart health, liver function, and blood sugar levels.
Fortunately, there are plenty of simple strategies that can help sidestep sugar cravings without compromising your sweet tooth. Here are a few easy ways to get started on your path to better health and fewer cravings.
Exchange Sweets for Fresh Fruit
Unlike the sugars found in candies and sweets, fruit supplies a lot of important vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. These things help promote better health in the long-run, unlike refined sugar. The natural sugars in fruit can help cut cravings. Plus – fruit is high in fiber which slows the absorption of sugar in the bloodstream.
Steer Clear of Artificial Sweeteners
Some research suggests that artificial sweeteners may actually increase sugar cravings and contribute to weight gain. So avoid low-calorie diet products made with ingredients like aspartame, sucralose, and saccharin. Diet Soda isn’t your next best friend.
Eat More Protein
Protein-rich foods like meat, eggs, and poultry will keep you feeling full and curb cravings. Studies show that a high-protein diet can reduce levels of ghrelin. Ghrelin is the hormone responsible for stimulating hunger. High-protein diets can even slow the emptying of the stomach to fight off hunger.
Drink More Water
One of the keys to cutting sugar cravings is staying well-hydrated. Research shows that drinking water before meals can give your metabolism a temporary boost. It also increases satiety which decreases the number of calories you eat. Opt for unsweetened healthy beverages like water or green tea to stay hydrated.
Pack in More Probiotics
Your gut microbiome is made up of trillions of bacterial cells that control just about every aspect of health, from immune function to heart health and beyond. Emerging evidence from some animal studies also shows that taking probiotics to support the beneficial bacteria in your gut could help stabilize blood sugar levels and reduce appetite to minimize sugar cravings throughout the day. For best results, try taking a probiotic supplement or enjoying a few servings per week of fermented foods like kombucha, miso, tempeh or natto.
Fill up on fiber
Fiber is an indigestible nutrient found in many plant foods that moves through the digestive tract slowly, keeping you feeling fuller for longer. Not only can it help slash cravings by promoting satiety, but it also can slow the absorption of sugar in the body to prevent spikes and crashes in blood sugar levels and reduce hunger and appetite.