Sugar addiction is a huge topic in nutrition and weight loss circles. It is a real thing, and may be just the thing holding you back from losing weight, keeping weight off, or just being a healthier person overall. If you missed my first two posts on the topic of quitting sugar, you should definitely go back and read them for some information and ideas to help. You can read them here and here. The first article gave ways to help quit sugar once and for all. The second post explained why it’s so important to reduce the amount of sugar in your diet.
Today I am providing you with 5 foods that can help you quit the sugar habit, either as a replacement for sugar, or that can just naturally cut down your sugar cravings. Now the key is you have to try them more than once. An old habit takes a while to break, and a new habit takes a while to stick. You want to give yourself around 2 weeks minimum to see these foods help you beat your sugar addiction. So please don’t expect to eat a fig and have all of your sugar cravings vanish!
First, I want to talk about one food item that you should avoid if you are trying to quit sugar. That is artificial sweeteners. When they first arrived on the food scene, artificial sweeteners were seen as a dieter’s best friend. They gave your food sweetness without the calories. However, now that they have been around long enough to study further, research has shown that these substances can actually make you eat more. You might fool your taste buds with an artificial sweetener, but you are not fooling the rest of your body. You will be left still wanting the real thing. There have also been reports about artificial sweeteners causing cancer, although these are highly contested. My advice: avoid them as you would anything with the word “artificial” in it. The ingredients to look for to avoid artificial sweeteners are aspartame (Equal, Nutrasweet), sucralose (Splenda), saccharin (Sweet ‘N Low), neotame, and acesulfame-K (Sunnett).
#1 – Fruit
Fruit is nature’s candy. I’m sure you have heard that saying before, because it is true. Fruit does contain natural sugars, so this is not a sugar-free food. But as you are beginning your journey to reduce or eliminate the sugar in your diet, fruit can be a gateway to free yourself from the addiction. Pick really sweet tasting fruits, like oranges, pineapple, and berries. Keep a big bowl of fruit on your kitchen counter. Have cut up fruit in see-through containers in the front of your fridge. Keep a bag of frozen fruit in your freezer to whip into smoothies. Whenever a sugar craving strikes, hit the fruit first. Eat it slowly and mindfully, really focusing on the sweet taste. Then find something to keep yourself busy for 20 minutes. The craving should pass. A word about dried fruit…Dried fruit does have added sugar to it, so again, this should be used as a replacement on the path to cutting sugar out of your diet. We have all eaten raisins, but try out some dried fruits that you have never tried in dried form before. I love dried apricots, kiwi, and figs. These can be just as sweet as candy. Like I said, we are still talking added sugar here, so watch your portions and limit how often you eat it.
#2 – Yogurt
Yogurt is so amazing because of its probiotics. These good germs fill your stomach to help balance everything out. And yes, they can help to balance out your blood sugar and your sugar cravings. The key here is to select a yogurt that does not have a bunch of stuff added to it. Ideally you want to eat plain yogurt. If you need sweetness, stir in some fresh fruit. Read the label on your yogurt container. There will be always be some naturally-occurring sugar from the milk, but you don’t want to see any added sugar in the ingredients list.
#3 – Coconut Oil
We all know that certain oils provide us with good fats, which we need in our diets. Coconut oil is one of those oils. The reason it can help with sugar cravings is because it is slightly sweet in flavor. Using it in cooking and baking can impart a subtle sweetness to your food that will keep you from feeling deprived of sugar. You just have to be careful with your amounts because it can be high in fat, like any oil.
#4 – Peppermint tea
Herbal teas of any kind are fantastic for taming cravings, but peppermint tea is extra special because of its strong flavor. That natural mintiness can make it seem like you are drinking something sweet. And it will leave a taste in your mouth that you just don’t want to mix anything else with. Plus drinking tea will fill your belly up, making you feel too full to eat anything else. If peppermint isn’t your thing, try another strong flavored herbal tea.
#5 – Sweet potatoes
I know, this one has “sweet” right in its name. Seriously though, sweet potatoes are one of the best foods on earth. They are full of fiber and potassium, and the good kind of carbs. And yes, they do have a sweet flavor. You can’t load them with butter or marshmallows though. They truly are sweet enough on their own. Grocery stores now sell individual microwaveable sweet potatoes, or you can try cooking them in your slow cooker according to Tammy’s directions here. If you need a little butter, go for it. Top with cinnamon and you are in for a treat!
Have you quit sugar? What foods have helped you?