Dr. Mary Simon
How to Conquer Sugar Cravings
Sugar cravings!! There are many reasons why it's hard to give up sugar including genetics, hormones, and sugar's addictive nature. Thankfully, there are many strategies you can use to conquer your sugar cravings.
The main reasons people crave sugar are low energy, low blood sugar, low serotonin (the feel-good hormone), and high stress.
The brain relies on glucose (sugar) for fuel, so when blood sugar is low, it causes you to crave it even more. Oftentimes we turn to sugar to help us with focus, concentration, and energy, but when we eat too much, the body starts storing it as glycogen to be used when sugar runs low. However, once the glycogen stores are full, the body then starts converting the excess sugar into fat to be stored in adipose tissue.
Additionally, when your blood sugar spikes, the pancreas pumps out insulin to help get the sugar out of the bloodstream and into cells. With large doses of sugar, the body can overcompensate and provide too much insulin to the point that instead of having blood sugar return to baseline, it overshoots and your blood sugar becomes low. Low blood sugar then causes you to crave more sugar. This is why sugar may give you an initial boost of energy, but it doesn't last long.
To conquer cravings try these tips:
1. Eat protein with every meal
Protein will help slow down the rate at which the body absorbs glucose from food, allowing for a more gradual increase in blood sugar.
2. Eat healthy sources of fat
Fat will help you feel satisfied after meals and prevent you from overindulging on desserts.
3. Drink water
Water can help quench cravings for carbs and sugar because oftentimes when we think we are hungry, we are actually dehydrated. Drink 1-2 cups of water at least 15 minutes before meals and snacks to give your body the hydration it needs.
4. Get over the mid-afternoon slump with exercise
Instead of grabbing a candy bar or other sugary snack in the afternoon when you need an energy boost, get up and do 3 - 4 minutes of intense exercise. Some examples are jogging in place, jumping jacks, taking the stairs at work, etc. Short bursts of energy can help your adrenal glands send energy-producing hormones through the body.
5.Increase your intake of magnesium, chromium, and zinc
Magnesium, chromium, and zinc are three nutrients that your body needs for proper blood sugar regulation, so you don't experience blood sugar crashes which cause you to crave more sugar.
6. Use spices
Spices can activate the taste buds in different ways than sugar can. Having interesting flavors with food will stimulate the senses, and some even help stabilize blood sugar such as cinnamon and turmeric. In addition to adding spices to food, add some in your water bottle too!
7. Decrease stress
Stress causes a hormone called cortisol to be released which leads to sugar cravings. Engage in stress-reduction techniques when feeling overwhelmed and overworked. Sip some herbal tea, do some deep breathing exercises, listen and dance to music, or sweat out stress in a workout.
8. Eliminate temptation
Clean out your kitchen and remove sugary processed foods! If you don't have access to it in the first place, you won't indulge in temptation! Some healthy snacks to have on hand include nuts, seeds, fruit, and veggies. These will provide sustainable fuel for your body.
9. Get enough sleep
Lack of sleep makes it hard for the body to regulate hunger signals due to two hormones - leptin and ghrelin. Leptin is a satiety hormone that tells your body that you're full, but when you are sleep-deprived, leptin levels decrease! Ghrelin is the hunger hormone that tells you when you're hungry, and it increases with sleep deprivation. The decrease in leptin and increase in ghrelin is a dangerous combo that drives sugar cravings.
Written by Dr. Mary Simon.
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Disclaimer: The information in this article is intended for educational use only; it is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. Consult your physician or other qualified healthcare practitioner with questions you may have regarding a medical condition and before undertaking any diet, supplement, fitness, or other health program.