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As someone who has lost 100 pounds, I understand the struggle of sugar cravings. I have one unconventional but super effective way to fight back and get control back over those cravings.
My sugar cravings always used to hit me at night. I’m a night owl in a family of early birds, so I could sneak boxes of food from the kitchen and eat in the secret of my bedroom while everyone else slept.
It didn’t matter how much I’d eaten that day or if I was even hungry.
I wanted sugar.
Lots of it and right now.
My weaknesses were always Little Debbie Nutty Bars and fruit snacks. I could plow through entire boxes without thinking twice.
The thing about my sugar cravings is that they were unquenchable.
I could eat an entire box of Little Debbies and still want more. And if I binged on sweets one night, the next night I would want them again just as badly.
There were certainly healthy habits that helped ease the cravings a little bit over the years – eating more vegetables, drinking more water, chewing minty gum or brushing my teeth when cravings hit.
But it still seemed like I just couldn’t get my sugar cravings under control.
Finally, I tried something a bit unorthodox. Something I definitely never read in any diet book.
*Warning – Right off the bat, I should warn you that this may not work for everyone and my goal was never to get rid of sugar completely. There are no one-size-fits-all solutions when it comes to losing weight. We all have different bodies, preferences, and personalities, but this is something that helped me lose 100 pounds and maintain that weight loss and it’s also helped health coaching clients I’ve worked with get control over their sugar cravings, too.
Okay, now that that’s out of the way, let’s dive in.
My Sugar Cravings Conquering Technique
This technique is so simple. There are no products to buy, no time commitments required, and it’s something that anybody can do at any stage of life.
I plan my treats.
I actually give myself permission to eat the sweets I love so much at specific times during the week.
Nutty Bars are still my favorite, so I usually plan to eat one bar on Tuesday and Thursday afternoons.
My husband loves sweets too, so we usually have some kind of treat on Saturday, whether it’s an ice cream cone, cookies, or a donut.
Our family dinner on Sunday evenings always includes a dessert, so that’s planned in, too.
If I know I’ll be going to a birthday party, I’ll make a point to include that in my sweets for the week (because I love birthday cake and it shouldn’t be served with a side of guilt!).
You can cater this to whatever plan you are following, whether you are counting calories, going keto, or following Weight Watchers. When you plan the treats in first, you can plan the rest of your meals around the calories or points you have left. Just pick reasonable portion sizes and frequencies that fit your plan and lifestyle.
Why It Works
It’s not a mistake or a slip-up when you eat treats. It’s something you plan into your healthy lifestyle.
When you’re doing it on purpose, there is no need to feel guilty after you indulge.
It doesn’t deprive you – the diet mentality
I like to call dieting the “deprivation cycle.” You overhaul your eating overnight, try to ONLY eat healthy foods, then you inevitably end up binging on the foods that were off-limits on the diet…and then you start the cycle all over again.
Whenever I tried to cut sweets out together or replace them with healthier options, it eventually led to a binge. I’ve slowly weaned myself down to eating sweets much less often, but they are still a part of my healthy lifestyle.
When you are planning your treats, there’s no reason to go on that dieting rollercoaster. Eat the foods you love and enjoy them. That will create a lifestyle you actually want to keep living instead of the extreme starts and stops of endless diets that never bring you long-term results.
My cravings aren’t in control
When you are following your cravings, you’re trying to quench an insatiable desire. Sugar cravings are like a black hole that will devour anything around, but never be satisfied.
When I eat sugar by planning it into my weeks, I’m not binging because of a craving. I’m eating proper portions on the timeline I set. I just don’t let my cravings dictate when I eat them or how much I let myself have.
I never plan it at night
I know my weaknesses and when I eat at night, my willpower for the day has usually been spent, so I have a much harder time stopping myself at one portion.
I also discovered that the caffeine in chocolate keeps me up at night, so whenever I can, I plan my sweets for afternoons.
Teach yourself delayed gratification
This skill of allowing yourself to have treats, but still setting limits for yourself regarding portion sizes and the timing you will have sugar is so beneficial.
You are teaching yourself that the cravings aren’t in charge. The world won’t crumble if you don’t feed your craving instantly.
And that it’s okay to wait. Actually, when you have that treat to look forward to, usually you build the anticipation and excitement, which means you enjoy your sweets all that much more!
This skill is helpful in every single area of your life – weight loss, finances, relationships, and so much more. It takes practice, but it is so worth it!
But How Do I Stop?
One of the most common comments I get when I mention this technique to someone struggling with sugar cravings is, “Oh, I could never do that because I’d just end up eating the whole box/bag/package.”
I get it.
Remember that whole unquenchable desire we talked about? And the boxes of Nutty Bars and fruit snacks I’ve plowed through?
I promise you that I do not have some kind of natural off button with sugar that allows me to magically feel satisfied after one serving.
As I mentioned earlier, it takes time to break the deprivation cycle you are most likely used to. For a long time, it felt like when I let myself eat a Nutty Bar that that might just be the last Nutty Bar I ever got to eat, which made me want more and more and more.
But when I kept to my schedule and proved to myself that there were always more treats to look forward to, it took the urgency out of the craving, so over time, I didn’t feel like I had to (or even wanted to) eat them a box at a time.
Pre-Portion Your Treats
Do not, I repeat, DO NOT decide to treat yourself with M&Ms and let yourself take the Costco-sized bag of chocolate with you to the couch.
That is a binge-fest waiting to happen.
Partially because it’s easy to convince yourself “just one more” and partially because with bags that large, you really can’t tell how much you’ve eaten and your perspective tends to be quite skewed.
Take the time to set aside one portion. Take two cookies out of the bag, then close the package and put it back in the cabinet before you even start eating. Count out the M&Ms into a little container. Take one Nutty Bar out of the package and put the other one in the back of the refrigerator (they are SO good cold!).
*Side note – I highly suggest storing your treats in harder-to-reach places that are out of sight. I like the cabinet above my refrigerator and on the top shelf of a shelving unit in our garage. When it’s not as convenient and you don’t see it all the time, it won’t be as tempting.
Never Eat A Treat Hungry
Being hungry and reaching for sugar is a recipe for disaster. Sugar just doesn’t do a good job of filling you up. Those treats are usually high in fat and calories and should never be used to satisfy your hunger.
If you need to eat a healthy snack first, do it.
- Reach for vegetables that are high in fiber
- Or a hard-boiled egg that is high in protein
- Drink a glass of water
Those foods do a great job of filling your belly so you won’t feel like you “need” to eat more.
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