You know eating less sugar is a good idea. You know cutting sugar can improve your mood, reduce your risk of diabetes and cancer, boost heart health, mellow out cravings, and more. And yet, when it’s 4 p.m. and you’re on line at the post office or in the kitchen at work or, really, just about anywhere, it’s seriously hard to stare down that doughnut, cookie, package of peanut butter cups, without giving in. What you need is a strategy to help you in these moments.
We asked some experts what they do and advise others to do to fight off those sugary temptations without going crazy. Here’s what they had to say.
1. Avoid the hungries.
“My best suggestion is to not allow yourself to get very hungry,” says registered dietician Skylar Griggs. “Your brain knows that when your blood sugar is low, the first thing that will raise it would be sugary snacks and simple carbohydrates–it’s a survival mechanism. Try to eat something every 3 to 4 hours to avoid blood sugar spikes and nose dives. Feeling satisfied will decrease the chances of you making an impulse bite.”
2. Don’t get caught empty handed.
“Pack a snack in your purse. This is a must,” advises registered dietician Nicole Hinckley. “I always have whole-grain peanut butter crackers, KIND bars, or green pea snaps on hand at all times.”
3. Ask yourself why.
“Check in with yourself and see what you’re really hungry for,” notes nutritionist Aynsley Kirshenbaum, creator of a 12-day Sugar Purge program. “Many times the thing that’s tempting us isn’t actually all that tempting, but we’re hungry from not enough lunch or we’re stressed out and reach for food to manage that stress. Make sure you’re eating solid meals with lots of veggies, protein and fat, and see if that helps curb the muffin cravings.”
4. Give in sometimes.
“I think it’s important to allow yourself to have an indulgence from time to time,” Griggs says. “I tell people it’s the 80/20 rule: If you eat healthy 80% of the time, then 20% of the time you have got to live.” When you do indulge, choose your treat carefully, then “savor and enjoy it,” Kirshenbaum says.
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