Is giving up sugar a nightmare for you?
Do you get sugar cravings?
The big news everywhere is that eating sugar is bad for us, that we need to eat less of it and that a lot of us are sugar addicts without knowing it!!
It’s 4pm, the day is nearing an end, you are feeling a little tired and in need of a sweet treat. Sound familiar? Are there times when you find yourself craving sugar; when you start eating a Byron Bay cookie and can’t stop before the whole packet is demolished?
The term “blood sugar levels” refers to the amount of sugar floating around in your blood at any given time. These levels tend to fluctuate throughout the day based on the type of food you consume and how often you eat. If these levels become too high or too low, they can produce a number of undesirable symptoms such as ‘foggy brain’, irritability, mood swings, energy highs and lows and sleep disturbances, If this goes on unchecked for a long period of time, abnormal blood sugar levels can lead to more serious complications, such as Diabetes, weight gain and an increased risk of chronic health conditions.
It can also cause sugar cravings!
Due to our modern dietary and lifestyle habits, properly managing blood sugar levels is becoming a greater challenge than ever before, but the pay-off is very much worth it. Maintaining blood sugar levels within a normal range can lead to many other general health benefits such as increased energy, better concentration, easier weight loss, stronger immunity and improved mood – who wouldn’t want that?
Sugar Cravings be Gone!
So what can you do about the sweet cravings? Here are some simple healthy practices you can do to help take control over the cravings. Through maintaining healthy blood glucose levels you can both look and feel better.
1. Eat Regularly. This is one of the most important tips when it comes to balancing blood sugar. Eating inconsistently can lead to eating larger meals, which provides more opportunity to spike blood sugar; whereas, eating smaller meals on a consistent schedule, every 2-3 hours really helps balance blood sugar.
2. Eat a low GI diet. This slows the absorption of sugar into the bloodstream and prevents rapid insulin surges. Reduce or avoid flour or grain-based products like bread, pasta, noodles, white rice, crackers, cereals, muesli bars, muffins, sugar, sweets, soft drinks, juice, and too much fruit. One to two serves of fruit daily is more than enough. This keeps you feeling full for longer and prevents a rapid rise and fall in blood sugar levels. Enjoy salads, vegetables, legumes, nuts and seeds, low G.I fruits such as berries, grass fed lean meats and poultry, organic dairy foods, and fish.
3. Eat protein with every meal and snack. Protein makes you feel more satisfied and gives you more sustained energy. It will not raise your insulin levels so will keep your blood sugar balance and prevent cravings. Enjoy grass fed lean meats, fish, dairy products, nuts, seeds and legumes, tofu, tempeh, pea-based proteins and hemp protein.
4. Eat Healthy Fats. Healthy fat acts to slow digestion, which can help to prevent blood sugar spikes and through slowing digestion may also help to make you feel more satiated and full. Good sources of healthy fat include nuts and seeds, nut butters, avocado, flax and chia seeds, cold pressed and unrefined oils such as olive, coconut, avocado, macadamia, wild or organic fish including salmon.
5. Spice it up! Cinnamon slows down the rate your stomach empties after a meal, helping to stabilize blood sugar levels. Consuming cinnamon with meals helps lower the glycemic index (the rate your blood sugar levels increase with a particular food) of the meal you’re consuming. Research has shown that 1 gram of cinnamon per day resulted in an approximate 20 percent drop in blood sugar levels. Sprinkle it on your coffee, on your cereal, in stewed fruit, smoothies, juices, curries, casseroles and stir-fries.
Richard Anderson, PhD, a scientist at the Beltsville Human Nutrition Research Center of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, who has conducted several studies on cinnamon and diabetes, theorizes that the spice mimics the action of insulin, the hormone that regulates blood sugar. It may stimulate insulin receptors on fat and muscle cells the same way insulin does, he says, allowing excess sugar to move out of the blood and into the cells.
6. Get more chromium. Chromium is a trace mineral required for insulin to work properly, helping sugar to move into the cells efficiently and promote balanced blood sugar. It is found in liver, brewers yeast, wheat germ, and mushrooms, broccoli (the best source), potatoes, green beans, bananas, nuts and lean meat.You can buy Chromium supplements. A therapeutic dose is at least 200mcg of ‘elemental’ chromium, but don’t take large amounts for long periods of time without seeing a natural health professional.
7. Use the herb Gymnema. Gymnema can be useful for reducing sweet cravings, and reducing the sweet taste sensation on taste buds, making it less appealing to eat sugar-laden foods. Taking it in a supplement or spraying it directly on the taste buds seems to stop things from tasting so sweet and you are less likely to want to eat them.
8. Eat enough fibre. Fibre is important for slowing sugar absorption and making you feel full. Eating plenty of vegetables (preferably raw) and a serve of whole fruit will provide fibre, as will foods like coconut, quinoa, brown rice and oats. You can also put a couple of teaspoons of psyllium husks, oat or rice bran into yogurt.
9. Apple Cider Vinegar. Raw apple cider vinegar is also thought to be helpful with sugar cravings. Take two teaspoons of raw apple cider vinegar in ½ cup of water when you are experiencing a sugar craving. Doing this before meals also aids digestion.
10. Clean your teeth! After dinner, clean your teeth right away. This works well for many people because you are less likely to snack on sweets when you have that minty taste in your mouth, and if you do, you know you have to clean your teeth all over again!
11. Substitute. You can also reduce sweet cravings by substituting regular sugar with natural sweeteners like stevia.
12. Have Some Water. Often thirst is mistaken for hunger. We confuse the body’s messages. Tune in to your body’s cues and get a big glass of water or a cup of herb tea instead of starting on that bar of chocolate.
13. Get Exercise. Exercise and movement both help to allow the body to remove sugar from the blood stream and instead moves it to the tissues and muscles where it can be utilized as energy and stored.
14. Get enough sleep. Research suggests that individuals with inconsistent and inadequate sleep patterns may suffer from more inconsistent blood sugar levels. Experts often recommend 7-8 hours not only for overall health, but perhaps for improved hormonal regulation and therefore blood sugar as well.
15. Do Something Different. Are you bored after spending hours at your desk? Distract yourself another way, call a friend, go for a walk, take a long hot bath, listen to some music or do some yoga instead of giving in to the urge to eat something sweet. Craving something sweet could just be a habit.
16. Clear Your Pantry. Another way to stop sugar cravings is to clear your pantry. Eliminate or store sweet foods in opaque jars so that they are “Out of sight and out of mind.”
17. When Shopping. Never shop when you are dangerously hungry. You will reach for the sweet treats unconsciously when you blood sugar levels are low. Eat something like nuts, a piece of fruit or cheese or yoghurt before you commence shopping. Take a list with you and buy only what is on the list, nothing more!
18. See your Homeopath. Homeopathic remedies and constitutional treatment have helped many people feel more balanced and crave less sugar. Remedies such as homeopathic saccharin have successfully been used to reduce sugar cravings if specifically indicated in a consultation.
19. Hypnosis. You might also want to give hypnosis a go as another complementary tool in your quest to stop sugar cravings. Hypnosis can replace eating chocolate with something completely undesirable like eating a cigarette butt! YUCK!
20. Be kind to yourself. Give yourself permission to enjoy your favourite treat. (Once a week, or more ) Have a glass of wine or bubbles, beer, ginger beer, some chocolate, cake, brownie or ice cream guilt free. Positive thoughts and what you believe make a big difference to your health.