Many of us feel powerless when it comes to sugar cravings and are unable to resist the temptation of a sweet treat or a carbohydrate-laden item. Nonetheless, a diet high in sugar is ultimately not good for the body.
There are some physical problems as well as physiological reasons we crave or need sugar. Often, the more sugar we eat, the more sugar we crave. Diabetics in particular not only need to know that foods are good choices to control blood sugar levels, but how much is the right amount as well. Carbohydrates, fats, and proteins need to be balanced to ensure blood sugar levels stay stable.
Although our bodies need complex carbohydrates in order to function properly, they should not be empty calories, but ones that can fuel our bodies with the nutrients that we need for good health.
You can successfully cut your sugar cravings and control blood sugar levels. Follow these guidelines to help you get off to a good start:
Choose high-quality carbohydrates coupled with a protein and healthy fat. For example, eat brown rice (a high quality carbohydrate) and vegetables with grilled chicken or pork tenderloin (lean protein). High-quality carbohydrates are full of vitamins, minerals, and fiber. The fiber will also help to keep you fuller. This way you can maximize your satiety with the fewest calories.
Other examples of high-quality carbohydrates include:
- Whole grain breads, pastas, and cereals
- Wild rice
Increase soluble fiber. Soluble fiber slows down the absorption of glucose, which in turn helps decrease the rise in blood sugar.
Good choices for soluble fiber:
- Oat bran, oatmeal, barley, and lentils
- Brussels sprouts, peas, beans, broccoli, carrots, and sweet potatoes
- Apples, berries, pears, oranges, grapefruit, cantaloupe, and peaches
- Almonds, ground flaxseed, and chia and sunflower seeds
Include lean proteins at every meal. This is one of the most satisfying ways to control hunger and manage weight.
Try these lean proteins:
- Skinless turkey and chicken
- Fish and shellfish
- Pork tenderloin
- Lean beef
- Fat-free or low-fat yogurt (especially Greek style)
- Beans and lentils
- Tempeh and tofu
- Nuts and nut butters
- Seeds and seed butters
Choose low-sugar snacks between meals. Try snacking on part-skim string cheese, a hard-boiled egg, veggies with guacamole or hummus, an apple with peanut butter, or celery sticks with low-fat cream cheese or cottage cheese. Or have a handful of pistachios, almonds, or sunflower seeds.
Everything in moderation. Just because you are choosing high-quality carbohydrates it doesn’t mean they are a “free-for-all.” Be aware of your portion sizes and read nutrition labels. In addition, don’t skip meals because when you go long periods without food, your body begins to hold on to fat stores — which in turn will only enhance cravings. Often we want something sweet when we’re tired or dehydrated, so be sure to drink enough water throughout the day and get restful sleep at night.
Any change to your diet takes time and adjustment. For help developing a customized meal plan that’s right for you, contact a Western CT Health Network outpatient dietitian near you at:
- Norwalk Hospital (203) 855-3548 or Nutrition@norwalkhealth.org.
- Danbury Hospital (203) 739-4980
- New Milford Hospital (860) 210-5362