We’ve all been there. You’re walking down the grocery store aisle and you spot a bag a bag of chocolate-covered pretzels (or if you’re me, it’s the really sugary stuff like Sour Patch Kids and Swedish Fish) that you just can’t leave without. Sugar cravings can cause real problems for many people, and according to holistic nutritionist Kelly LeVeque, they aren’t as simple as they seem. Here, we find out how to curb them and make better choices for a healthier body overall.
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“Hormones, stress, blood sugar and habits all play a role in these cravings,” says LeVeque. “Excess insulin and low blood sugar can have you craving sweets in all forms from chocolate to juice. And, stress and habits can be just as dangerous. Many of us reward and comfort ourselves with food, so the key is to break the reward system, and instead, choose specific times to celebrate.”
Let’s be honest, this sounds so much easier than it really is. But, LeVeque says there are little tweaks you can make to your daily routine and habits that can help. “Eating foods with fiber will slow the absorption of sugar and help balance blood sugar,” she says. “Aim to have complete meals that contain protein, fat and fiber to prevent a fast crash. Don’t start your day with sugary, dense carbs, or you will crave sugar all day and end up full of excess insulin. Also, find an outlet to calm your stress and anxiety—for some that might be an exhausting run, and for others, a yoga flow will do the trick, but the key to stress management is consistency.”
So which snacks should you reach for when you’re having a craving? LeVeque says her favorite sweet treats are low in sugar and high in fiber and/or fat like dark chocolate–covered almonds or cashews. And, if you absolutely need something sweet throughout the day, LeVeque has a great tip. “If you have to indulge, do it right after a workout. Your muscles are very insulin-sensitive and can suck up glucose (blood sugar) and store it as energy instead of fat.”
The bottom line: The less you eat sugar, the less you’ll crave it, so make a plan to eat healthier and you’ll reap the benefits in no time.
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