10 Tips to Minimize Sugar Cravings
Experiencing cravings is very common, but that doesn’t mean it’s necessarily normal. Our bodies are smart, and they talk to us. I find in my practice the majority of the time when people are experiencing cravings, their bodies are missing key nutrients, or they have poor sleep and high stress levels. Below are some ways to stabilize your blood sugar and minimize cravings.
1. Increase protein and fat intake, especially in the morning hours.
When you are sleeping, your body is fasting. Its job is to heal and repair while you sleep. The best way to break your fast is with protein and fat. This will minimize the risk of raising your blood sugar first thing in the morning. Especially, if you are going to a workplace where you sit most of the day.
2. Eliminate artificial sweeteners from your diet.
Artificial sweeteners may not spike your blood sugar, but it does ignite your brain. When your tongue tastes something so sweet, it is expecting calories. Even though there are none your brain is tricked into wanting more. Artificial sweeteners encourage sugar cravings throughout the day and can become highly addictive. In the Multiethnic Study of Atherosclerosis, daily consumption of diet drinks was associated with a 36% greater risk for metabolic syndrome and a 67% increased risk for type 2 diabetes. There is not enough research out there showing that artificial sweeteners are safe for human consumption. Artificial sweeteners have been linked to cancer, obesity, brain tumors, heart disease and more.
3. Increase whole, nutrient-dense food.
Huge corporations are smart, and they hire scientists whose job is to figure out what ingredients spark our palate. Ever hear that phrase “You can’t just have one.” Willpower is not the problem! Whole foods such as vegetables nuts and seeds do not have any synthetic ingredients are preservatives. They don’t contain anything addictive, unlike processed foods. The more you eat processed foods, the more you will crave them.
4. Increase sweet vegetables and spices that balance out your blood sugar.
Cinnamon is excellent for balancing out your blood sugar. Add it to your morning coffee, fruit, or oatmeal. Add sweet vegetables to your meals daily such as bell peppers, carrots, beets, spaghetti squash, butternut squash, sweet potatoes, and parsnips.
5. Keep a moderate macronutrient intake. Don’t drop your calories too low.
People tend to get discouraged and diet too hard. This will lead to significant food cravings, binging, and bad relationships with food. If you keep your protein, carbs, and fat balanced, you will most likely see long term sustainable results.
6. Increase magnesium intake through magnesium-rich foods.
Magnesium is essential for many processes throughout the body and is essential for good health. It helps food convert into energy, aids in muscle contraction and relaxation, creates new protein for amino acids, regulates neurotransmitters which send messages throughout your brain and nervous system, and much more! Studies show that about 50% of us are deficient in magnesium.
Foods that are great sources of magnesium are pumpkin seeds, black beans, 70-100% dark chocolate, quinoa. Especially leafy greens such as spinach and swiss chard.
7. Add a variety of sour-rich foods into your diet.
Sour-rich foods include sauerkraut, green apples, and unripe bananas.
8. Make sure you have a healthy gut microbiome.
Bacteria, viruses, fungi and other microscopic living things are referred to as microorganisms, or gut microbes, for short. Trillions of these microorganisms exist mainly inside your intestines and on your skin. Most of the microorganisms in your intestines are found in a "pocket" of your large intestine, and they are referred to as the gut microbiome (also known as your second brain). There are roughly 40 trillion bacterial cells in your body, and only 30 trillion human cells. These live bacteria are in control of multiple systems throughout the body.
Side effects of gut imbalances include IBS, constipation, anxiety, insomnia, weight gain, brain fog, sugar cravings, Auto-immune disease, skin issues, and anxiety.
An overload of bad bacteria can cause a whole host of health issues. It’s crucial that you have enough good bacteria to thrive in your gut microbiome. To do this, it’s important to get a diverse number of probiotics and pre-biotics daily through your food intake. If need be, you can also supplement.
9. Get plenty of sleep.
If you don’t get enough sleep, your body will be stressed. Sleep is so important that if it’s a choice between a workout or sleep, I have my clients always pick sleep! One of my favorite books regarding sleep is by Shawn Stevenson called Sleep Smarter. Lack of sleep is linked to weight gain, depression, and food cravings.
10. Reduce stress levels.
It’s important to minimize stress as much as possible. During times of stress, your adrenal glands respond by releasing two hormone cortisol and adrenaline. These hormones are part of your “fight or flight response.” Stress can stem from lack of sleep, environmental toxins, work-life, family and more. Ways to minimize stress would be through sleep, meditation, exercise, and eating slowly.