There are a number of reasons why some people crave sugar more than others, and the number one reason, according to experts, is low blood sugar levels and low energy. Most sugar cravings have a poor lifestyle at their root, and can be fixed by making conscious and informed changes to your diet, lifestyle and sleeping habits.

Here are six ways to beat your sugar cravings, which will have a drastic impact on your general health, appetite and immunity.

Consume more healthy fats

Eating natural foods high in healthy fats is a great way to fight the urge to eat sweet foods, as it helps reduce levels of ghrelin, the hunger hormone.

Moreover, healthy fats support a feeling of satiety and also help to keep blood glucose levels in check. Foods that are high in healthy fats include nuts (hazelnuts, almonds, cashews, walnuts, peanuts and pecans), seeds (pumpkin, sesame, sunflower), beans, flaxseed powder, full-fat yoghurt, coconut oil, extra-virgin olive oil, fish (mackerel, herring, lake trout, sardines, salmon, tuna), eggs and foods rich in omega 3.

Also rule out magnesium and chromium deficiencies and increase your intake of foods high in these minerals.

Use natural sweeteners in your food

There are several natural herbs and spices that will lend a mildly sweet taste to your foods and beverages and also infuse a unique flavor to your meals. For instance, add a stick of cinnamon in your tea, use nutmeg or cardamom to sweeten your desserts, and use honey or dates instead of processed sugar.

If the spicy flavors get too much, take a break and start having unsweetened beverages for a week. Gradually, you’ll get used to having little or no sweetness in your staples, which will help you break the vicious cycle of consuming-craving-consuming sugar.

Learn to manage everyday stress

Did you know that a lot of our sugar intake happens when we are anxious or stressed about something? Everyday situations at work or personal issues at home—whatever’s causing you to reach out for comfort food needs to be resolved if you want to manage your sugar cravings effectively.

The key to reducing your sugar intake is to learn to manage those situations without resorting to food. Learn coping strategies, make an effort to eliminate the root causes of your anxiety and start communicating your feelings and emotions to avoid feeling frustrated, ill-treated or hurt.

Reduce your intake of caffeine

Whether it’s the good old coffee or a caffeine-laden energy drink, fighting your sugar cravings will require you to drastically cut your caffeine consumption. While caffeine may give you a temporary energy boost, it has the tendency to dehydrate the body and upset the digestive system. Moreover, market-bought foods and beverages are high in both sodium and sugar.

The more sugar you consume, the more your body gets used to it. While you need not deprive yourself entirely of coffee, gradually cut back on the number of times you reach for the coffee machine at work.

Rule out a parasite infection

While several different types of microbes live in the human body, colonization of certain parasites can wreak havoc on your digestive system and upset the way your brain and your body process food. A healthy gut is important for your digestive system to work properly and for your body to manage insulin and glucose levels in your blood.

Also note, trying to eliminate bacteria in the body can also give rise to sugar cravings. Many parasites feed on sugar so when you go on an anti-parasite diet, you may get a strong urge to consume sugary foods. You can curb the craving by increasing your intake of fresh fruits and vegetables.

Prioritize sleep and rest

Your body’s physical responses and reactions are not only driven by your food habits. The way you live, work and sleep all play an important role in shaping your overall health and wellbeing. When you don’t get enough sleep, your body’s natural clock is disturbed and so is your metabolism.

Research shows that people who sleep less than six hours a night—that is, those who’re sleep deprived —tend to consume a lot more calories every day than those who get adequate shuteye. This is because lack of sleep reduces the levels of satiety hormones (leptin), increases ghrelin in the body and affects our ability to make rational choices.

If you’re serious about cutting back on your sugar intake, analyze your sleeping habits and make positive changes, starting tonight.

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