Do you struggle with sugar cravings? Here are some potential reasons and tips to help you break the cycle.
Overdoing sugar seems to be a big culprit of getting in the way for many people trying to live a healthy life. We know it’s not good for us, it messes with our hormones, our moods, energy levels and creates an environment for disease. But we keep going back for more. Why?
Looking at the human body, there are only two sources of fuel; glucose and fat. These days, people are living on stress hormones due to perception of pressure and urgency and too much caffeine. “Too much to do and never enough time”. When this is the case, the body predominantly uses glucose as its fuel, not body fat.
Let’s look at the nervous system. The sympathetic nervous system (SNS) evolved to get us out of danger. At the time of danger or a perceived threat adrenaline is secreted by the adrenal glands to help us act quickly (the fight or flight response). Heart rate increases and stress levels go up. Adrenaline causes an increase in blood sugar levels to fuel the fight-or-flight response. Some of this extra glucose is released by the liver but this response may also explain sugar cravings. If the body thinks it’s always in danger it requires a full glucose tank so it will signal for cravings of glucose and the cycle continues. Adrenaline is also released to increase sugar levels after an over active insulin response.
Many of us are living our days like this – our SNS constantly activated. Try these Five tips to help manage your stress levels and sugar cravings:
- Aim to decrease adrenaline production, so your body feels “safe” to use body fat as fuel.
Explore your perception of pressure and urgency. When we step back and look at the big picture, we can see a little more clearly of what is really urgent and where we create unnecessary pressure and stress. We all have 24 hours in a day. How do you choose to spend it?
Do you get stressed out by other people’s behaviors? Trying to control them?
Are you drinking too much caffeine? Caffeine can affect people differently, it can serve some and not others. Try cutting back or omit it for at least a month. Be aware of any changes or improvements.
- Eat more wholefood fat at the meal before the time you normally crave sugar. E.g. if 3pm is your time of craving for that pick me up, than increase fat at lunch time. If it is after dinner, then amp up fat at dinner time.
- Keep subtly sweet food on hand that serves your health for the time you know the craving sets in. Make a healthy cacao protein ball that satisfies the desire for sweetness on the taste buds but is rich in wholefood fats, like seeds and coconut oil.
- Increase your greens. Bitter-tasting foods, such as green veggies, help to decrease desire for and enjoyment of excessive amounts of sweet food. Try a daily green smoothie.
- Activate the PNS, the parasympathetic nervous system, our rest and digest system.Take time each day to sit or lay and focus on diaphragmatic breathing. Inhale into the abdomen, rib cage and then chest. Exhale, feel the chest release, the rib cage and then the abdomen.
Then work on making the exhale double the inhale. Inhale for 3 counts, exhale for 6 counts.
Try these tips, keeping a journal of how you feel each day, and see if your dependency on sugar decreases as you reduce your stress levels and increase self-care.