If you’re like us, you’ve been snacking a lot more than you’d care to admit during quarantine, and chances are you keep reaching for sugary foods which inevitably cause weight gain, brain fog, lackluster skin and only leave you craving more and more sugar.
According to Michele Promaulayko, long-time health and wellness editor of Cosmo, Women's Health and Yahoo Health, “When the neurotransmitter dopamine is released while you’re eating something like a piece of chocolate, it leads to that seductive voice inside your head telling you to start breaking off the next bite. As a result, a lot of us have developed a sugar dependence. The more we have, the more we want. And the more we have, the harder it is to get that same buzz.”
To overcome her own sugar habit, Michele created Sugar Free 3, a simple 3-week plan to help you kick added sugars, artificial sweeteners and refined carbs for better overall health and easier weight loss. When Michele started her own sugar free journey, she noticed a host of benefits including weight loss, better sleep, less puffiness, healthier skin, less cravings and an overall heathier, more balanced relationship with food. Here are her top tips for overcoming sugar:
1. Tasty Hydration
Thirst can masquerade as hunger or cravings, so it’s important to stay well hydrated. I like to flavor water—fizzy or flat— with herbs and citrus. Or I drink a hydrating beverage such as HALO Sport that doesn’t have any added sugars.
2. Stevia in Coffee
I can’t drink it black. Plant-based sweeteners, such as stevia and monk fruit, are approved on Sugar Free 3 because they are natural, don’t impact blood sugar, or disrupt your microbiome the way artificial sweeteners do.
3. Sweet Tea After Dinner
Not the sugary iced variety. I’m talking about hot herbal teas with sweet notes such as cinnamon or vanilla. They can really thwart a pantry or freezer raid.
Fruit really is nature’s candy, so while it has naturally occurring sugar, the fiber in a whole fruit helps slow down its absorption into your bloodstream. Try eating 10 frozen grapes or a clementine when cravings strike. In a pinch, stevia-sweetened chocolate does the trick.
5. Designate a Sugar Sponsor
If all else fails, this is someone you can call or send an SOS text to in so they can talk you off the sugar temptation ledge!
6. Get Physical
Though some people experience some temporary lethargy when withdrawing from sugar, I actually had more energy. So when cravings would hit, I would try to do something physical—whether it was to hop on the Peloton in my building’s gym for 20 minutes, do a short foam-filling session on the floor or just go for a walk. The idea is to distract yourself from the craving, but also, after I have done something physical—even if it’s not an intense workout—the last thing I want is to counteract the work with sweets.
7. Breathe easy
Listening to a guided meditation or do a few rounds of a simple breathing exercise of inhaling for 4 counts, holding for 7 counts and exhaling for 8 counts to trigger the parasympathetic (relaxing) nervous system.
8. Try Aromatherapy
I am headache-prone in general, so I did have some throbbers in the early days of quitting sugar. To deal with those, I made sure to hydrate even more, and I turned to aromatherapy. Peppermint essential oil is great for mitigating headaches. There’s a whole section in the Sugar Free 3 about how to curb cravings with aromatherapy because scent and appetite are so closely linked.