Kick Your Sugar Cravings

After bikepacking over 400 miles across the state of Oregon last year, we rolled into our last town before taking the Amtrak back home and saw the most glorious sign. "Gluten-free bakery." I've arrived! I couldn't think of a better way to round out the trip and my birthday.

The cupcake was everything I wanted. Sweet, squishy, and sugary. Heaven.

After I finished, which took all of 30 seconds, I could sense how I wanted another one.

We all know the sensation of wanting something sweet. The desire can be strong and can bring you to finish off a whole tray of cookies or grabbing that second serving of cake without ever thinking twice.

For one thing, it's not you, it's the sugar. We crave it and for good reason. It's in our DNA to search out that sweet taste, like our ancestors did foraging for foods like berries and boiling down sap for maple syrup. Only now we have it in almost all processed foods where it can be hard to stop eating.

We are "biologically addicted to sugar." We want sweet even when we're full. Our hunger hormone gets suppressed with more sugar and it's harder to detect when to stop consuming. It's a vicious cycle.

So how do we kick the sugar carving?

According to Dr. Mark Hayman, a functional medicine doctor, whenever you get a strong desire for sugar, ask yourself these two questions:

What am I feeling? Name the emotion.

What do I need? The answer does not involve food. For example, do you need a hug? We often insert food when we actually need something else. The emotion will lead you to self-compassion.

Here are some other helpful ways soothe your craving for sugar.

  • Eat real, whole foods. Need I say more?

  • Try fermented foods like kefir, kimchi, or miso. The probiotics in living, fermented foods offset the bad bacteria in your gut and chill out your sweet tooth.

  • Put a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar in a glass of water or on cooked veggies. I promise, it tastes better than it sounds.

  • Enjoy herbal tea with 5 drops of liquid stevia. Stevia doesn't spike your blood sugar like other sweeteners but delivers the taste of sugar to take the edge off.

  • Go to bed! Your hunger hormone is regulated by getting quality sleep. The more hours you are awake in the day, the more food your are likely to consume. As soon as you feel fatigued, wind down for the night, put away technology and rest.

  • Decrease emotional stress. Grab a hug, hug yourself, call a friend and share your day with someone (but don't unload), listen to your favorite song or write a letter.

  • Get some fresh air! Go for a walk, stand next to a tree, feel the ground or watch a cloud float by. Be in your body and notice the outdoors with all your senses.