By Jenny Fowler, First Mile Care DPP Coach

Feeling in control of your food choices is an important step along the road to healthy living. But when it comes to sugar, many of us struggle with temptation or even addiction despite our best efforts to control the craving.

As a certified holistic nutrition consultant and wellness coach, I help participants in the National Diabetes Prevention Program (DPP) determine strategies to control unhealthy eating habits that can lead to prediabetes. One of the most challenging is sugar consumption. I led a discussion on dealing with sugar cravings as part of the First Mile Care “Diabetes Prevention in Action” webinar series.

It’s important to get a handle on sugar cravings to maintain stable energy throughout your day, to help balance blood sugar, and to aid in weight control. Oftentimes, you feel sugar cravings when your blood sugar is imbalanced. If your blood sugar is too low, your body wants a quick fix to bring the sugar back to a more stable level. You may make poor food choices to satisfy that sugar craving, food choices which can negatively affect your weight.

The main reasons for sugar cravings fall into three buckets:

  • Nutrition: Are you getting enough of the three macronutrients each day?  The amino acids in protein build the brain chemicals that stop sugar cravings. What about unrefined carbohydrates, your body’s preferred source of fuel? Do you eat the right amount of healthy fat, which helps keep your blood sugar stable?
  • Habits: Are you craving sugar because you habitually have something sweet as part of a routine or at a certain time of the day? Are you eating regularly (every 3-5 hours) throughout the day to keep your blood sugar stable?
  • Emotions and Location: Are you craving sugar simply because you can see or smell something sweet in physical proximity? Or just know that there are doughnuts in the cupboard and ice cream in the freezer? Or are you under stress, which can cause your blood sugar to peak and crater, throwing your body into a red alert?

When you feel a sugar craving, think about WHY you are experiencing it. It may be because your meal planning doesn’t address the right balance of the three macronutrients. Or you’re in the habit of eating cookies with an afternoon cup of tea. Or you’re experiencing a lot of stress at work.

Once you can figure out your trigger(s) for craving sugar, it’s easier to address those cravings. Instead of just trying to deny your body what it wants, find an alternative activity or substitute routine. In a different webinar, I provided tips on calming activities that can reduce stress and help avoid nervous eating. Oftentimes, if there is not a physical reason for the craving, it will pass if you distract yourself with another activity. 

Of course, if there is a physical reason, make sure you have some tasty but healthy snacks available so you don’t reach for the chocolate. Or perhaps you need to eat the three macronutrients more often, more regularly, in smaller amounts, to avoid the blood sugar highs and lows that lead to sugar cravings. The important thing is to give your body regular, healthy fuel to keep your blood sugar fairly balanced and avoid big swings and crashes. 

Watch my webinar video below for more ideas on how to gain control of your sugar cravings. It does get easier!

To learn more about how you can benefit from the First Mile Care Diabetes Prevention Program, take the prediabetes risk test and get started today!