Foods that can fight Sugar cravings

  • Author :
  • TATA AIG Team
  • Published on :
  • 01/02/2024

Food is the fuel to your body, and most people pre-plan their next meal while consuming the first one, with the intent of maintaining proper food consumption throughout the day.

However, after finishing every meal, the classic end-of-the-meal struggle of craving sweets, what to eat questions and finding healthy alternatives is a never-ending cycle.

Sugar cravings are everyone's biggest weakness. With the wide variety of delicious desserts in Indian households, resisting them is a significant task.

Thus, to maintain the balance between health goals and nutritional food, you must curb or stop sugar cravings the right way.

Why do Sugar Cravings Happen?

Before discussing the different ways to stop eating sugar and curb sugar cravings effectively, it is essential to understand why sugar cravings happen.

Hormone Fluctuations - Hunger and stress hormones impact the need for sweet consumption significantly. Changes in progesterone, cortisol, and oestrogen levels in the body increase sugar cravings as they stimulate the appetite and force the mind to believe you are hungry for something sweet.

Poor Gut Health - At times, specific gut bacteria production, absence or accumulation results in the body craving feel-good foods, usually sweets, due to poor maintenance of the gut.

Changing Moods - Sweet, sugary food instantly elevates bad mood to good as it increases the hormone production of serotonin and dopamine in the body. These two mood boosters are the primary reason why the first response to any emotion of stress, anxiety, sadness, anger, and irritation is desserts.

Poor Sleep Schedule - A minimum of 7-8 hours of sleep is recommended for everyone to keep their cortisol levels in check. However, due to lifestyle choices, work routines, and other factors, the quality and quantity of sleep vary from person to person. People with poor sleep patterns often face an increase in the hunger hormone called ghrelin, which increases sugar cravings.

Sudden Habit Change - Many times, people tend to cut out sugar from their diet to reduce sugar cravings in order to meet specific health goals. However, a complete cut off to sugar can result in increased cravings and binge eating as the body recognises the deficiency and impacts moods, hormones, etc.

List of Healthy Alternative Foods for Sugar Cravings

Fruits

The best alternative to any sugar cravings is fruits. Bananas with nut butter and cinnamon, apples with peanut butter, watermelon, muskmelon, etc., are great foods to consume when you are craving something sweet.

These fruits consist of natural sugars, along with many other nutrients like protein, healthy fats, and fibre, that fulfil sugar cravings and also provide the body with good energy levels for the entire day.

Dark Chocolate

Different kinds of dark chocolates are available in the market, and all of them are a great source of good sugars. Dark chocolates with high cocoa content are also rich in antioxidants, which help reduce sugar cravings and also work as a tasty snack.

You can eat it as it is, use it for baking healthy desserts or add dark chocolate to oatmeal. An added benefit of consuming dark chocolate is that it helps improve heart health as well because it is anti-inflammatory in nature.

Chewing Gums (sugar-free)

Sugar-free chewing gums are a great way of attacking sugar cravings, as even though they have artificial sweeteners, the sugar and calorie content is very low. This helps curb sugar cravings and also assists in effective weight management. Chewing gum also controls hunger pangs well and prevents dental issues like plaque, gum inflammation, etc.

Berries

Out of all the different fruits, berries are one of the best fruits to fight sugar cravings. This nutrient-packed fruit consists of high levels of protein and plant-based fibre, which keeps the body full for longer.

Additionally, all kinds of berries taste sweet, which deceives the body into believing it is a dessert instead of a healthy alternative.

Chia Seeds

Out of all the organic seeds, chia seeds are an excellent alternative to sugary foods. You can consume it in the form of roasted trail mix, a pudding, an addition to salads and smoothies, or even in different healthy desserts.

Chia seeds are made of 40% fibre content and then other nutrients that keep you full for longer durations, reducing sugar cravings to a bare minimum.

Oats

Oats can be made sweet or savoury as per individual preferences. For sweet oatmeal, you can add water/milk, fruits, nuts, and seeds of your choice and then consume it as a dessert every day without the guilt of high sugar content.

Oats are rich in protein and make for a perfect fulfilling meal to start or end the day while reducing sugar cravings significantly.

Hummus

Made of chickpeas, tahini (sesame seeds), lime, and olive oil, hummus is a great alternative to spreads and dips. As it is a rich source of protein because it is made of chickpeas, it energises the body effectively without leaving any space for sugar cravings or sweets.

Replace your sour cream, mayonnaise, or cream cheese with hummus and see the change yourself.

Sweet Potato

Sweet potatoes are sweeter in taste and thus work as a good alternative to potatoes. They are rich in good carbohydrates and contain fibre, potassium and vitamins A and C.

Due to its sweet taste, it can be added to any dessert or can be consumed with light seasoning to enjoy a balanced snack, without abandoning the need for something sweet. You can also make fries out of them or bake them with your favourite toppings.

Whole Grains

Quinoa, buckwheat, brown rice, etc., are all good sources of multiple nutrients. They contain protein, vitamins, manganese, and minerals that help satisfy hunger the right way. A full stomach directly impacts the sugar cravings and decreases them significantly.

Additionally, consuming these whole grains improves gut health as they promote the production of good bacteria.

Coconut Oil

In comparison to other oils, coconut oil takes a lot of time to digest, which keeps the body full for longer durations. Additionally, it slows down the process of converting food into sugar, which helps balance out blood sugar better.

This directly affects the sugar cravings and reduces them significantly. Add the oil as a base to all your vegetable curries for best results.

Dates

Consuming dates as a whole or adding them to smoothies and other desserts can help satisfy sugar cravings without a load of additional calories. Dates contain potassium, fibre, iron, and other nutrients that make it a good alternative to other sweeteners and make for a great snack on the go.

Yoghurt

Packed with protein and calcium, consuming yoghurt with every big meal can fulfil sugar cravings without the need for indulging in different sweets and other desserts. You can also consume yoghurt as it is for an evening snack by adding berries, other fruits and nuts to it.

When choosing yoghurts, go for the ones that do not have any added sugar to ensure they are healthy and can aid in healthy weight loss.

Vegetables

Incorporating non-starchy vegetables into your daily diet can directly fight sugar cravings. Vegetables like cauliflower, cabbage, broccoli, zucchini, etc., are all rich in fibre. When you eat them regularly, their high fibre content takes longer to digest, making the body feel fuller.

In addition to that, these vegetables help maintain blood sugar levels, which reduces sugar cravings to a bare minimum.

Pistachios

Among the different nuts available in India, pistachios are considered a healthy alternative to sugary snacks. They contain fibre, healthy fats, and protein that directly control the blood sugar level spike and reduce it to decrease sugar cravings.

Eat them raw or roasted between meals to practise mindful snacking without compromising taste and health.

Smoothies

A popular option for a healthy yet sweet snack on the go is smoothies. You can experiment with different fruits and combine them with Greek yoghurt to make a tasty and healthy drink. Top off the smoothie with some chia seeds, almonds, and cinnamon powder to increase the nutritional value of this meal.

Eggs

Increasing protein intake directly helps reduce sugar cravings, and eggs are a great source of protein. They are light on the stomach and can be customised as per taste and requirement to reduce hunger pangs.

By consuming foods rich in protein, your body feels full throughout the day, which directly helps reduce sugar cravings, if any.

Cheese

Often considered an unhealthy ingredient, cheese can offer multiple benefits, one of them being a direct impact on sugar cravings. They are rich in fats and protein, and when consumed in moderation, cheese can help keep the body full and satisfied.

Additional Ways to Fight Sugar Cravings

Snack Right - One of the best ways to reduce sugar cravings is snacking right. Often, staying hungry for longer durations or undereating can result in a sudden spike in cravings. Thus, providing your body with small meals between big staple meals is necessary to avoid sudden sugar cravings.

Distract your Mind - Given that sugar foods elevate the mood almost instantly due to the release of dopamine and serotonin, people often give in and consume high sugar foods every chance they get.

However, the better way to manage mood and fight sugar cravings is by distracting yourself. For instance, you can go for a walk, play your favourite music, complete a workout or just read a book to feel good without the need for sugar.

Do not Cut Out Sugar Completely - A common misconception many people believe in is that cutting off sugar completely subsides the sugar cravings forever. However, it actually has the opposite impact, as when you cut out sugar completely, your blood sugar levels start to drop slowly, resulting in more cravings and binge eating episodes.

Increase Fibre and Protein Intake - To reduce sugar cravings, you can add more fibre and protein-rich foods to your diet as they will leave the body energetic for longer durations. Additionally, both protein and fibre-rich foods help stabilise blood sugar levels, which in turn reduces sugar cravings significantly.

Keep yourself Hydrated - A lesser-known way to help fight sugar cravings is hydration. People at times confuse hydration requirements with hunger pangs, resulting in heavy indulgence in sweets and other foods. Therefore, drinking water as soon as you crave something can help decide whether you are hungry or just thirsty.

Sustain a Healthy Sleep Cycle - High levels of cortisol, due to low quality and quantity of sleep, also increase sugar cravings. Therefore, adopting a healthy sleep schedule by practising meditation and breathing exercises can significantly help in reducing sugar cravings.

Spend time for Meal Planning - When you are not sure about your next meal, you end up sticking to unhealthy foods, especially desserts, to feel good. An excellent way to curb this issue is by planning your meals in advance to create a good balance of healthy and sugary foods for a happy body.

Choose Small Portions instead of Massive Indulgence - If you feel like eating something sweet, instead of going all out and eating big dessert plates, try and choose smaller quantities. This will help reduce sugar cravings and also provide the body with what it needs in appropriate amounts.

Main Reasons to Fight Sugar Cravings

Helps with Healthy Weight Management - One of the key benefits of fighting sugar cravings and optimising sugar intake is effective weight management. Consuming foods with high sugar content regularly can result in unhealthy weight gain and stubborn fat that is very difficult to fight. Instead, balancing out sugar with other necessary nutrients can help with improved health and well-being.

Improves Heart Health - Natural sugars, present in fruits and vegetables, and added sugars like sweeteners, syrups, etc., both account for the total sugar intake. High sugar intake can result in increased blood pressure and higher chances of heart disease. With a balanced sugar intake, you can improve your heart health the correct way.

Improves Skin Texture - Sugar content consumed by the body also impacts the natural sebum production of the skin. Furthermore, it increases skin inflammation and makes the skin more prone to attracting harmful bacteria and debris, resulting in increased acne. Therefore, optimising sugar intake is necessary for healthy, glowing skin.

Reduces Dental Issues - Excessive sugar foods can disrupt dental health as sugar bacteria can instigate the build-up of an acid in the mouth that can destroy the surface of the teeth and also cause cavities. In some cases, even gum inflammation is possible. Thus, it is important to control and reduce sugar cravings.

Conclusion

Incorporating the right balance of sugar content in your diet can support you in achieving many health goals. From weight management to reduced risk of heart disease and diabetes, the benefits are plenty.

Moreover, the knowledge of what foods to consume to fulfil sugar cravings without going overboard allows you to plan better and reduce sugar cravings effectively.

A healthy diet does not mean you cannot consume sugar at all. It means planning and optimising the intake of all nutrients with the right food groups while also enjoying your favourite foods once in a while for a happy body and mind.

FAQS

What is the recommended daily sugar consumption for men and women?

Men should consume at most 36 grams or 9 teaspoons of sugar per day. For women, the recommended daily sugar intake is 25 grams or 6 teaspoons only. Choose natural sugar sources instead of added ones to avoid excessive calorie intake.

Can I still eat some sugar foods if I have diabetes?

For diabetic people, consuming added sugar can be harmful. However, based on lifestyle and diet, some natural sugar foods can be added for consumption in intervals to avoid sudden sugar cravings. We recommend consulting a doctor before deciding what sweets or sugar foods you can consume based on your health condition.

Does ghee have any sugar content?

Ghee is made of only fats. It contains no sugar content.

Are diabetes-related treatments covered in health insurance plans?

Your eligibility for a health insurance plan depends on a wide range of factors. While diabetes is covered with Tata AIG health insurance, we suggest getting in touch with our insurance experts to check your eligibility and find a plan based on specific needs after a proper comparison.

Disclaimer / TnC

Your policy is subjected to terms and conditions & inclusions and exclusions mentioned in your policy wording. Please go through the documents carefully.

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