It’s no news that sugar can be extremely addictive. In fact, many have labeled it as the tobacco of the modern century. Aside from holding us back from reaching our weight goals, the ever-growing list of why too much sugar is bad includes chronic conditions like heart disease and diabetes among others. Empty calories are really just the tip of the iceberg. Before you start to pull on your own sweet tooth, know that sugar addicts come in all shapes and sizes. Yes, this means that even the cleanest of eaters can fall victim to the sweet stuff. So relax, we’re human. While a little indulgence is and always will be okay, it’s a matter of not getting too sweet on yourself (pun intended of course).
Why do we get these cravings in the first place? Cravings tend to come on when we’re not eating enough, hence causing our bodies to seek out that quick energy fix, or we’re simply eating the wrong stuff. There are many ways to help kick the addiction, including modifications to sleep and exercise routines, but the first change should take place in the kitchen. A diet rich in vital nutrients (AKA more whole, nourishing and fulfilling foods) will help you to keep sugar demons at bay, in addition to so many other health benefits. While drastically lowering your intake is one of the best ways to stop the craving, it’s also important to replace these ‘foods’ with ones high in protein, fiber and healthy fat. For the sake of this article we’re going to focus on protein.
Cravings tend to come on when we’re not eating enough, hence causing our bodies to seek out that quick energy fix, or we’re simply eating the wrong stuff.
Upping your protein intake can work wonders in helping to manage cravings- especially if consumed regularly throughout the day. For starters, getting enough protein helps your body stay satiated and full, so you’re less likely to resort to snacking on sugary foods. Protein also helps to keep blood glucose levels steady and greatly aids in the production of serotonin, the ‘happiness hormone’, which plays an essential role in the regulation of our appetite. Some of the top vegan sources of protein include beans, lentils, vegetables, nuts and nut butters. Why are vegan proteins best? In addition to being loaded with protein (contrary to popular belief), they also double as a great way to get more necessary nutrients such as fiber, antioxidants and electrolytes. Animal proteins, on the other hand, often lack these and can also be filled with health-robbing nitrates, sodium and antibiotics.
Some of our favorite plant-based proteins that help to curb sugar cravings include:
Quinoa is technically a seed but commonly falls within the grain category. Call it what you will, it’s certainly a powerful one. While most grains only contain a small amount of protein, quinoa packs more than 8 grams per cup! One cup also offers all nine essential amino acids that the body needs for growth and repair, but cannot produce on its own. Need we say more? Substitute it for rice, oats and pasta or consider it as a side dish!
Don’t be fooled by their size, these tiny seeds pack a powerful nutritional punch. They are not only loaded with protein, but also fiber, Omega-3 fatty acids and other various micronutrients. Additionally, chia seeds can absorb a lot of liquid, up to 10X their size in fact, so they help you to feel full faster (say that 10X fast). Sprinkle them into yogurt, oatmeal and jams!
Consuming several servings of greens each day can boost your protein intake as well as add an abundance of important vitamins and minerals to your diet.
Greens may not contain as much protein as nuts, seeds or beans, but by consuming several servings each day you can boost your protein intake as well as add an abundance of important vitamins and minerals to your diet. Experiment with ones like Swiss chard, mustard greens, beet greens, kale and collards. Make salads, sauces, add them to stir-fry or hide some into your morning smoothie!
Spirulina is rich source of protein (60-70% in fact) and offers loads of health benefits. It’s a type of kelp, so it’s totally vegan, provides 26X the calcium found in milk and is extremely low in fat. Check out our Epic Protein Green Kingdom (also loaded with tons of other good-for-you greens) for a tasty way to incorporate this superfood into your daily routine!
Replacing nutritionally empty foods with powerful, protein-rich ones such as these will help the body naturally feel nourished and therefore crave less sugar. It’s also important to stay hydrated, get plenty of sleep and keep stress levels to a minimum.
- corn syrup
- high fructose corn syrup