How to Kick Sugar to the Curb...Period!
24 July 2015
So why do we Crave sugar??
Sweetness is the first taste humans prefer from birth. This is because carbohydrates stimulate the release of our feel-good brain chemical serotonin. Sugar is extremely high in carbohydrates, and therefore is a key trigger for the release of the serotonin chemical. The taste of sugar also releases endorphins that calm and relax us, and offer a natural "high. Sweets just taste good, too. And that preference gets reinforced by rewarding ourselves with sweet treats, which can make us crave it even more.
With all that going for it, why wouldn’t we crave sugar?
The problem comes not when we indulge in a sweet treat now and then, but when we over-consume those sweet treats - something that’s easy to do when sugar is added to many processed foods, including breads, cereals, yogurt, juices, and sauces. On average, people consume about 22 teaspoons of added sugars per day, which is waaaay over the 6 teaspoons per day in total we should be consuming. This combined with the fact that sugar has been scientifically proven to be AS ADDICTIVE as cocaine has created for us a pretty significant craving.
If you're craving sugar, here are some effective ways to tame those cravings.
Get Enough Sleep! Happy chemicals aside, sugar cravings are also very likely to creep up when we are tired or lacking sufficient nutrients. You may notice that when you are tired your tummy suddenly becomes a bottomless pit…no matter how much you eat nothing satisfies you, and the cravings persist. This is because the body is reaching for instant energy in order to keep you awake, and therefore craves quick energy-release sugary, high carb foods. Make sure you are getting enough sleep and good quality sleep too.
Nourish your Body Properly! Sugar cravings are often an indication that your body is lacking something nutritionally; however the craving of sugar itself is NOT a signal that your body needs sugar per se, it is simply your body telling you it needs “something”, which is then misinterpreted as a sugar craving. The last thing you want to do is feed your body sugar during a craving because this will simply leave you wanting even more, which can quickly turn into a binge eating session
Balance your Blood Sugar Levels: Sugar cravings can also be due to insulin spikes which affect hunger and cravings. When we eat, we want to ensure that the foods consumed have little or no effect on our blood sugar levels. Opt for lots of vegetables, leafy greens, whole grains such as brown rice, quinoa, lentils, chickpeas, lean proteins (preferably chicken or fish), and healthy fats such as nuts, seeds, nut butters, coconut oil, olives and avos. Consuming healthy fats is a brilliant way to feel sustained and to keep your blood sugar levels stable by preventing insulin spikes.
Combine foods. If the idea of stopping at a cookie or a baby candy bar seems impossible, you can still fill yourself up and satisfy a sugar craving, too. I like combining the craving food with a healthful one. I love chocolate, for example, so sometimes I’ll dip a banana in chocolate sauce and that gives me what I’m craving, or I mix some almonds with chocolate chips. As a beneficial bonus, you'll satisfy a craving and get healthy nutrients from those good-for-you foods.
Go cold turkey. Cutting out all simple sugars works for some people, although the initial 48 to 72 hours are tough. Some people find that going cold turkey helps their cravings diminish after a few days; others find they may still crave sugar but over time are able to train their taste buds to be satisfied with less. You have to allow your body time to wean off the sugar, because sugar is addictive.
Reach for fruit. Keep fruit handy for when sugar cravings hit. You'll get fiber and nutrients along with some sweetness. Stock up on raw nuts and seeds, goji berries and cacao nibs. Have them handy so you reach for them instead of reaching for the old [sugary] something.
Get up and go. When a sugar craving hits, walk away. Take a walk around the block or do something to change the scenery, to take your mind off the food you’re craving.
Eat regularly. Waiting too long between meals may set you up to choose sugary, fatty foods that cut your hunger. Instead, eating every three to five hours can help keep blood sugar stable and help you avoid irrational eating behaviour. Your best bet? "Choose protein, fibre-rich foods like whole grains, legumes, and fresh vegetables.
In sum, feed your body mindfully with lots of nourishing, vitamin and mineral dense foods to make sure that you are getting the nourishment you need. When your body is getting what it needs you won’t experience sugar cravings anymore because your body is nutritionally satisfied.
Yours in Health Always,