THIS POST CONTAINS A BONUS! Free download: 5 Amazing Naturally Sweet Dessert Recipes
If you're like most people, right about now you’re coming down from a serious sugar bender. You catapulted yourself face first into the holiday spirit and embraced the seasonality of flavors like chestnut praline and peppermint. You spent two whole weeks eating nothing but pumpkin-flavored everything. You egg-nogged and cookie-swapped your way from one festive party to the next, including several you weren't actually invited to.
If it was sweet, you stopped at nothing. You tossed out your organic, cruelty-free lip balm and replaced it with apple cider ChapStick. When your kid went to bed, you pilfered all the gumdrops off of his gingerbread house because you thought they paired nicely with your mulled wine, and then you blamed it on Santa Claus. You even licked your finger and dabbed it in the powdered sugar that fell onto the shoulder of Cousin Dave’s ugly sweater. Twice. And everyone knows Cousin Dave isn’t exactly killing it in the hygiene department. (Btw, have you considered the possibility that perhaps that wasn’t powdered sugar?)
What used to be the occasional pesky sugar craving has now likely reached the point of full-blown addiction. But it’s time to stop beating yourself up and start kicking sugar’s ass instead. Here's how you can take back control and exorcize those sweet demons from your mind:
- Eat more sweet veggies. Think beets, carrots, bell peppers, corn and squash. Eat them raw or chop them up and roast them in some olive oil and your favorite seasonings. I don’t care if you have to snatch the damn carrot out of some poor unsuspecting snowman’s face, just find a way to get your hands on these naturally sweet gems. The more of them you eat, the less dependent you’ll be on other unhealthier sources of sugar.
- Control your environment. If candy, cookies, ice cream and the like are easily within your grasp, a major battle of the wills is going to take place and you’re probably going to end up on the losing side. If you're short on self-control, quit buying sugary stuff. Try making one of my 5 Amazing Naturally Sweet Desserts instead. They're fast, delicious and totally idiot-proof!
- Get more sleep. When you’re tired or stressed, your body knows it needs energy so it will send you irritating little signals in the form of sugar cravings. Grab yourself some silk eye covers. Get a sound machine. Buy a blue light. Toss back some melatonin. Do what it takes to increase the amount of shut-eye you get and watch your cravings subside.
- Pay attention to added sugar in processed foods. Stay away from fat-free and low-fat packaged snack-foods. They contain crazy high quantities of sugar to compensate for a lack of flavor and fat. So do a lot of condiments, dressings, sauces, breads and other packaged foods. Start reading the labels. If sugar is one of the first few ingredients then skip it, ditch it or switch it.
- Drink water. Sweet cravings are often a sign of dehydration. Before you go for the sugar, reach for a glass of water instead. Then wait a few minutes to see what happens. If you tend to drink your sugar, in the form of soft drinks or other artificially flavored beverages, start weening yourself by swapping out one or two drinks per day with naturally flavored water or soda water. If babies can stop drinking breast milk, you can stop drinking soda. For real.
- Start moving. Being active naturally raise levels of the "happiness hormone" serotonin. Higher serotonin levels lead to fewer cravings for sweets. So remove yourself from your comfy couch-dent and start with simple activities, like walking or yoga. Begin with 10 minutes a day and gradually increase the amount of active time. It will help balance your blood sugar levels and boost your energy without medicating yourself with sugar.
- Find a different ritual. A lot of us do this thing where we reward ourselves with sugar at the end of the day to basically celebrate the fact that we survived. But one bite of sugar becomes two, then three, then oops, how did that whole pint of ice cream just vanish before your eyes??? Find a different way to reward yourself instead, like drinking a cup of tea, calling a friend, spending time on a neglected hobby, reading a book or watching some mindless television.
- Do a cleanse. If you’re an all or nothing kind of person, going cold turkey can be a helpful way to reset your eating patterns and nip sugar cravings in the bud. Just stay away from anything that requires extreme forms of deprivation, like liquid only diets or other forms of ass-hattery. There are longer programs like Whole 30. But even a shorter five to seven day cleanse can stop those sugar cravings dead in their tracks.
Try to keep things in perspective. You don’t have to totally banish sugar from your life forever. The goal is to feel like you’re in control of your eating choices. Or at least that you no longer feel a compulsion to continuously lick seasonally-flavored ChapSticks.