Craving Sugar? 5 Hacks for Diabetics That Actually Work!

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Diabetes is one of the most commonly occurring conditions in India, with over 10 million cases diagnosed annually. Unlike many other medical conditions, this one is fairly well known and is a part of our daily lexicon. However, contrary to popular belief, the term diabetes does not refer to a single disease, but a group of diseases that affect your body’s ability to process blood sugar. As there is no cure for this disease, patients living with diabetes must learn to manage their diet and lifestyles in order to stay as healthy as possible. A large part of that includes being able to handle your sugar cravings.

Of course, the idea of curbing cravings is so much easier said than done! When you are craving something, it is all you can think about! Nothing else, no matter how delicious, can substitute the item you are craving. It is completely understandable to hanker after some sugar. However, as you are a diabetic, giving in to your cravings can cause more than just the occasional stab of guilt. It can play havoc with your health to the point of being fatal.

Craving Sugar

Let us look at hacks that can actually help you control your sugar cravings:

1. Substitute Candy and Sweets with Fruits and Veggies:

On paper, substituting a bar of chocolate with a fresh apple sounds like a poor switch. However, when it comes to body function, it is actually a good one. Chemically, the sugar that is added to candies and sweets is the same as the natural sugar present in fruits and vegetables. Substituting sweet food for fruits and vegetables can be a great way to control the sugar in your bloodstream. You are probably wondering how this works. After all, you are meant to stay away from sugar so the medium (candy vs fruits) should not make a difference, right? Well, not exactly. While carrots and apples may have the sugar you need, they also have other healthy nutrients like vitamins, fibres, and minerals. As a result, when you eat them, you can regulate the intake of sugar into your bloodstream. Instead of the dopamine kick you get from eating processed sugar, you get a slower release that helps your body stay energetic, without overloading it with glucose.

Similarly, if you prefer adding sugar to your yoghurt, you can get the same sweet effect by adding berries instead. Blueberries are a great choice as they are filled with antioxidants, which are great for you.

2. Practice Portion Control:

Did you know that sometimes, eating food could be a matter of habit rather than actual hunger? There are two types of hunger experienced by people. The first is known as homeostatic hunger, which is the need to eat because your body requires nutrition. The second is known as hedonistic hunger, which is the need to eat solely for the pleasure of it. Hedonistic hunger is the thing that makes you reach for that extra slice of pizza even after you already know that you are full.

Many people suffer from post-meal cravings, which is essentially the desire to eat more right after a meal. Of course, these cravings fall under hedonistic hunger and should be controlled as much as possible. Practising portion control can help you determine whether or not you are eating more than you need. For diabetics in India, this can be especially important. Why? Because sugary sweets are often presented as rewards or the end of the meal in Indian culture, which then triggers the flow of dopamine in your brain. Dopamine, the hormone that makes you happy, is highly addictive. As a result, resisting the sugar craving is especially hard for diabetics, who are already prone to eating a ton of sweets. Portion control can allow diabetics to enjoy some sugar stimulation without going overboard. A thin slice of cake (with low sugar) or a single scoop of ice cream every second day can help diabetics feel as though their cravings are satisfied, while still staying within the lines of good health.

3. Eat a Mineral Rich Diet:

Did you know that sugar cravings can be fuelled by a lack of enough minerals in your system? When your body requires magnesium, chromium, and zinc (amongst other minerals), it responds by making you feel like you need to eat something sweet. Magnesium is an extremely vital ingredient used in a variety of body functions like strengthening your bones, regulating blood pressure, and ensuring heart health. It also helps with regulating blood sugar, making it a good mineral for diabetics.

Make sure you include the following foods in your diet:

  • Dark leafy greens like spinach
  • Nuts
  • Brown rice
  • Quinoa
  • Raw cacao
  • Seeds

Similarly, you can find chromium in apples, broccoli, eggs, whole grains, and sweet potatoes. You can increase your zinc intake by eating whole grains, eggs, oysters, pumpkin seeds and even Brazil nuts.

4. Take a Walk:

According to a study published in PLos One in 2015, taking a 15 minute walk (of medium intensity) is a great way to combat intense cravings. This trick works especially well when you are craving sugary snacks, so it is a great one for diabetics to keep in mind. Besides, your doctor has probably told you that you need to get some exercise in your daily routine as well. You can use this trick to kill two birds with one stone!

5. Take Baby Steps:

Being diagnosed with any disease is hard on its own. No one likes being confronted with their own mortality and the sudden realization of the same can often cause a lot of stress and sometimes even depression. Many people take their diagnoses seriously and work to improve their lifestyles. However, an important thing to note is to not be too hard on yourself. Do not quit sugar all at once as the change can backfire and make you crave it even harder. Take it slow and remember to cut down in a way that is sustainable. The idea is to grow towards your change, and not to jump right into it. Moreover, it is also important to note that you must not be too hard on yourself when you do not follow the rules. Change is hard for everyone, and if you love eating sweet food, it is not going to be an easy road to walk down. Just remember that it takes time, patience, and hard work to achieve any results! Especially good health!

So, what’s your takeaway?

Living with diabetes can be hard. As a patient, you must always be aware of what you are eating and how much, along with your exercise routine. Of course, you must consult with your doctor to understand what diet rules to follow, but if there is one thing all diabetes patients have in common, it’s the strict avoidance of sugar.

By following these hacks, you can minimize your sugar intake and cravings all in one go. As these hacks focus on healthy supplements for junk food and sugary snacks, you can also work on your overall health at the same time. Remember: Junk food not only affects your diabetes condition but also your heart health and other body functions. Good health is symbiotic!

Dr RM Chhabra
Dr. R. M. Chhabra is a Senior, Consultant Physician at Fortis Hospital, Diabetes and Metabolic Disorders Department, Shalimar Bagh, Delhi. He has over 30 years of experience. He has completed his MD (internal medicine) degree from Sardar Patel Medical College, Bikaner, Rajasthan in 1987. Dr. R. M. Chhabra is a Governing member of the Association Of Physicians of India (API), Past Treasurer and Executive member of the Cardiological Society of India (CSI), Founder & Past President of the North Delhi Physician Forum (NDPF) Life member of the Research Society of Diabetes of India (RSSDI), & the Delhi Diabetic Forum (DDF).

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