Did you know the average person takes in 22 teaspoons of sugar daily—more than THREE times the amount suggested by the American Heart Association, which is already high! And although it has never been considered a health food, new evidence shows sugar can do even more damage than previously thought, setting you up for obesity, diabetes, and heart disease.
But weaning yourself off sugar can be daunting. It’s tough to dodge because it hides in so many foods, and it provides an addictive buzz.
Most people think giving up sugar is all about willpower. But did you know your stress levels and diet factor into what you crave. The more sugar you eat the more you crave. But by shifting the focus to what you can add to your diet — rather than focusing on what you are eliminating, your focus goes to abundance and you begin crowding out the harmful stuff.
If you have a wild sweet tooth like I once did, there are a few foods that can really help with your cravings. Here are six items to add to your cart next time you’re at the grocery store:
Fermented vegetables, like sauerkraut and kimchee, help bring the gut microbiome into balance by introducing more probiotics — the good bacteria. Buy sauerkraut or kimchee in the refrigerated section for the highest amounts of beneficial bacteria or make your own.
2. Leafy greens
In Traditional Chinese Medicine, leafy greens are thought to lighten up the spirit. If you eat sugar when you’re feeling stressed and depressed, experiment with adding more leafy greens like Swiss chard, kale, mustard greens, beet greens, spinach, and collards to your everyday diet. I add them to my smoothies in the morning.
3. Coconut oil
Healthy fat like coconut oil helps you feel full longer. And the medium-chain triglycerides are thought to provide the body with energy and provide the brain with fuel.
If you have a hard time leaving sugar out of your morning coffee, try blending coconut oil and a few drops of stevia with your coffee for a rich-tasting energy boost.
4. Sweet potatoes
This sweet and starchy root vegetable isn’t really a potato, but it is a great snack when you’re craving a sugary treat. Try roasting a sweet potato with the skin on (for extra fiber and nutrients) and top it with coconut oil and a little cinnamon.
5. Herbal tea
Keep some strongly flavored teas like ginger or peppermint, or a naturally sweet one like licorice, in your drawer at work for a sugar-free pick-me-up. Also, green tea helps to increase focus. If your sugar cravings are brought on by stress or poor sleep, choose a tea blend that will help you relax and wind down before bed.
These fatty little fruits are perfect brain food and keep you feeling satisfied longer. Add them to smoothies to create a creamy concoction with serious staying power. Or, lightly salt half an avocado for a delicious afternoon snack to help you power through the last bit of your workday.
For more help with sugar addiction check out this podcast.