When 3:30 rolled around, I couldn’t stop thinking about it. I tried to distract myself–think about something else, move around the room, stick my fingers in my ears–but it seemed like nothing worked. I NEEDED a sugary snack! I had to have it.

Does this scenario sound familiar to you? It was definitely something that was a struggle of mine for years. Most of the time I ate healthy foods, but where I fell off track was in my snacking. What did I want to snack on? Sugary foods.

If this sounds familiar to you, then it’s time to kick the sugar habit.

Sugar cravings are real, and part of the reason that we crave sugar is because of polarity. Simply put, there are two extremes of everything, for example hot and cold. Food is more than food. What we consume has contractive (creating tension) or expansive qualities (creating relaxation). The activities that we engage in throughout the day share these contractive or expansive qualities.

Here’s where it gets interesting. If we eat too many contractive foods–meats, salty foods, eggs– or engage in too many contractive activities, the body will seek balance by craving expansive foods like chocolate, bread, desserts, sweets, wine.

So, if you are running around all day and experiencing stress, your body craves something expansive, it requires relaxation. Most of us skip that part. Who has time for self-care? Then we end up binging on those ever so relaxing expansive foods.

It feels good to eat sugar, and now we are getting the relaxation that our bodies crave. Unwittingly, we just jumped on the blood sugar roller coaster. The sugar we consume raises our blood sugar levels too quickly, so our bodies send out insulin (often times too much) to balance our blood sugar levels. Then our blood sugar levels dip way down, the crash. What does your body crave when you’ve crashed? More sugar.

Sugar is everywhere and sugar is addictive. Studies have found that sugar triggers the same reward circuits that are activated by cocaine and opiods. The body becomes acclimated to sugar in the system and then requires more to have the same effect.

Got Inflammation?

What is inflammation and what does sugar have to do with it? Inflammation is a normal part of the body’s response to injury and infection. We have all experienced inflammation at some point in our lives, for example, mosquito bites. We often experience it as swelling, redness, heat, and pain.

Unfortunately, our bodies can sometimes produce an inflammatory response when there isn’t an injury or infection. We can experience chronic inflammation, and this can cause damage to our bodies.

The foods we eat can cause inflammation in the body, and not surprisingly, sugar is high on the list. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the average American consumes a whopping 17 teaspoons of sugar each day. Ideally, we should be having 6 teaspoons or less. This high consumption of sugar triggers an inflammatory response.

So how do we break free from sugar?

7 Solutions to Sugar Cravings

Sugar Craving Solution #1: Check Your Beverages!
Hydration is a must. As crazy as it may sound, sometimes sweet cravings are a sign of dehydration. Try drinking a glass of water, then wait for five to ten minutes to see if you still have the craving.

Another beverage to check in on is your caffeine consumption. When your body has too much caffeine, it can mimic a blood sugar crash–you’re up for a bit but then you come crashing down and crave….SUGAR, of course.

Sugar Craving Solution #2: Satisfy Your Sweet Tooth with Sweet Veggies, Fruit & Spices
Your tongue has sweet taste buds that demand to be satisfied. Try adding naturally sweet foods and spices to your diet like squash, yams, carrots, beets, berries, figs, apples, cinnamon, coriander, nutmeg, and cloves.

Sugar Craving Solution #3: Sleep!
If you’re constantly tired, your body is going to look for energy, usually in the form of sugar or caffeine. Make sure you are getting at least 7 hours of sleep each night. Research shows that lack of sleep increases the hunger control hormone, ghrelin, causing you to eat more. This increase in hunger often triggers hunger for sugar, fat, or both.

Sugar Craving Solution #4: Check Your Protein
Keep an eye out on the protein that you are eating. Protein slows the release of sugar into the bloodstream. When you don’t consume enough protein, your blood sugar can rise and fall at an abnormal rate triggering cravings for quick energy…sugar.

Sugar Craving Solution #5: Be Wary of Low-Fat and Fat Free Foods
While some nutritious foods are low in fat, like fruits and some vegetables, other low-fat foods that are on the market are high in sugar. When food manufacturers take the fat out of foods, what do they put in? Sugar.

Some of the household names in the diet industry sell meal replacement shakes that are marketed as healthy and are full of sugar.

Sugar Craving Solution #6: Get Your Body Moving
Stress gets us in a state of constriction, and our bodies are seeking to balance that out. Instead of indulging in sugary snacks, try moving your body. It’s a different kind of nourishment for your body. It releases stress, makes you feel great, and look great.

Sugar Craving Solution #7: Create New Post-Meal Rituals
Break the dessert habit. If you’re a “dessert after your meal” person, one of things you might love about that is the ritual of it. What are other possibilities for post-meal rituals?

Try the Italian custom of the passeggiata. It’s a short walk taken for pleasure, usually after a meal. Sounds delicious, right?

Yes, You Can!

One of the best things that you can do for your health is kicking the sugar habit, and you can do it. With awareness, small steps, and a little commitment, you can break the habit and improve your health. Your body will thank you for it.

If you are ready to kick the sugar habit and want to learn more or need support, feel free to set up a complimentary 45-minute discovery session with Leana at throughlinehealth.com.

More about Leana Abulencia-Shapli the author of Kicking The Sugar Habit:
She is a certified health and life coach, former elementary school educator, and mother of two. Her triumphs and struggles, both personal and professional, inspired her to take a leap and pursue her lifelong passion to help others reclaim their health, their lives, and their happiness.