Do you ever have a day like this? You way up hungry and all you seem to crave is sugar. You just wish you could indulge in cookies, ice cream, candy, you name it. No matter what you do or what you eat, you just can’t shake the craving? This was how I felt the other day. I couldn’t get the urge for sugar out of my head. Do you wonder why this happens some days where other days you could care less about eating something sweet? I’ll clue you in on a secret I discovered: you actually cause your own sugar cravings! That’s right! The decisions you make with your food and beverage selection can drive the desire for sweets.
When I think about the day directly preceding my sugar craving day, I could see the exact mistakes I made that lead to these strong sugar urges. Eating a diet rich in refined carbohydrates, drinking too little water, or consuming alcohol can all cause a rebound desire for sweets the next day. What did I eat the day before? I had went to a party where I enjoyed a few glasses of wine, some white flour bread, and most likely didn’t drink the amount of water I typically do. The result? I woke up with little energy, a hungry belly, and a urge for sweets that was hard to ignore.
The lesson in all of this isn’t that you have to give up indulging a bit at social events. Instead, you have to plan ahead and recognize when these sweet cravings can pop up so you can successfully combat them. If you know you will be having alcohol, drink plenty of water before and after to make sure your hydration level is at its peak. If you will be consuming refined carbohydrates, such as white pasta or rice, balance the meal with a good source of lean protein and vegetables to help blunt the blood sugar response at the meal. And lastly, be proactive. If you think there’s a chance that a day coming up may start to trigger sweet cravings, stock your pantry and fridge with sweet indulgences that are actually good for you. My favorite options are fresh fruit, cottage cheese sprinkled with cinnamon and vanilla, popcorn topped with cinnamon, and an ounce of dark chocolate (70% cocao or above). Being prepared will keep you ahead of the cravings, helping to prevent them from sidetracking your weight loss efforts.