I always had a sweet tooth and I really thought that it was just a part of my life until a few years ago. I want to let you know that it doesn’t have to be, and although we are naturally hard-wired to seek out sweet things, having them available 24 hours is certainly a difficult matter. It really concerns me that young people think nothing of replacing their meals with sweets – sugar for breakfast, a packet of biscuits for tea and sweets in between, oh and let’s add in a few energy drinks. Besides being extremely detrimental to our teeth…
What’s the problem?
All carbohydrates you eat (from fruits and vegetables, starches, grains and all other sugars) break down into simple sugars and are taken into the blood, which elevates blood sugar. Insulin (a very important hormone) is released to allow the sugar/glucose into your cells to be used for energy. When the insulin is high, a signal is created to store these extra calories for leaner times (sugar converted to fat a.k.a. muffin top). When you take in a lot of free sugars/simple sugars at once the insulin levels are raised rapidly, leading to a sudden crash in blood sugars. This sudden dip indicates you are low on fuel and causes you to feel hungry in an effort to increase blood sugars again. Furthermore, If your blood sugar suddenly drops it can lead to many physical and mental symptoms such as dizziness, headaches, nausea, blurred vision, sweating, palpitations, cravings and irritability (this is common when skipping meals or missing breakfast for someone who consumes simple sugars often).
It is easy to see how this becomes a cycle of overeating and craving sugary foods with the yo-yo-ing of insulin levels. When you eat whole food sources of carbohydrates (vegetables and fruits) together with healthy fats and protein, the glucose from the food enters our blood gradually, and the pancreas secretes an adequate quantity of insulin.
Note that fat accumulating around the middle is a cause for a sluggish clearing of blood sugar, leading to insulin resistance which is a precursor for diabetes type 2. This is because the pancreas becomes exhausted and is unable to produce sufficient quantities insulin. All the more reason to make the decision to make some healthy changes.
Why you really want to balance blood sugars
Blood sugar problems can also be related to depression, fatigue and hormone problems such as PMS. If blood sugars become too high, a process of Glycosylation will damage the proteins the excess glucose bind to, resulting in ageing and premature wrinkles! Shock horror ladies! On the subject of ageing, a poor blood sugar balance can also have a further impact by evoking the over-production of cortisol – the stress hormone. Continuing stress and regular blood sugar crashes can accelerate ageing and lead to inflammatory diseases such as cancer, heart disease and diabetes type 2.
5 things you can do to banish sugar cravings
Being active helps your cells to increase the uptake of glucose/sugars taken into cells. This helps keep the blood sugars within a healthy range, supporting a reduction of the insulin required. Being active does not have to mean heavy workouts, any form of movement and avoidance of a sedentary lifestyle will help for example walking, taking the stairs, swimming and taking regular breaks – walking, stretching or jogging on the spot if you have a sedentary job.
always eat breakfast
Breakfast is really the most important meal of the day! Our blood sugar dips during the night and missing breakfast can wreak havoc on our balance as well as generating stress hormones.
Combine complex carbohydrates with some protein and healthy fats, as this helps to provide a sustained energy release. For example fruit with nuts, seeds or yoghurt; oatcakes with hummus, avocado, nut butter or egg; porridge oats and nut milk with seeds; natural whey free protein powders in fruit/vegetable smoothies or eggs with avocado.
Note: Dilute freshly squeezed fruit with water – the fibre has been removed which means these are simple carbohydrates to the body (avoid pasteurised juices altogether as they have been heated to a point where many of the nutrients have been destroyed)
Note: Avocados contain a seven-carbon sugar that depresses the production of insulin, making them a super choice for those with blood sugar balance issues.
Lack of sleep or poor quality sleep absolutely obliterates our blood sugar levels. I know first hand this is a definite trigger for sugar cravings. However, identifying this has made me make sleep a priority over the years even when people laugh at some of my early bed times! Try to go to bed at a similar time each evening and rise at around the same time each day. Keeping a sleep routine will help your overall sleep pattern, decrease cortisol levels (stress hormone) and supports healthy blood glucose levels (the body’s preferred fuel/sugar converted).
We all feel stress, after all, it is a part of being human and it can be a really positive emotion. However, when we are overwhelmed with anxiety it is a sign that we need to tap into self-care. You will find your way, ensure you have strategies for relaxing and these will differ dependent on how you feel; this may be reading a book, taking a walk outside enjoying nature, being with friends and socialising, listening to music/dancing, turning everything off and meditating or colouring with a colour therapy book. If self-care is something you find difficult take a look at this website www.sarahseed.com.
Other ways of increasing cortisol (stress hormone) in our bodies as we discussed earlier is consuming highly processed foods, drinking alcohol and smoking (which all cause wild swings in blood sugar).
Note: Being deficient in B vitamins can increase anxiety, palpitations etc. Also, B vitamins are depleted easily by tea, coffee, alcohol and stress in the body. Take the nutrient deficiency assessment to check if this is a possibility for you. The guides you will gain access to afterwards will inform which foods will provide B vitamins, reduce stress and help adrenal glands.
If you lead a particularly busy life you may benefit from extra support in this area. In times where I need to be at my best and the days are long and constant, I find that taking a natural supplement can help. I take Adreset, which is a combination of Rhodiola, cordyceps and ginseng – an herbal formula which is ideal for those who feel exhausted and need invigorating. It is also known to enhance mood in a natural way (See details of how to order in the bottom reference section).
healthy snacks to keep blood sugars stable
Eat naturally fibre-rich foods. These are more satisfying and slow the absorption of sugar from food. For example, brown rice, oats, lentils and rye bread.
Avoid simple carbohydrates which include white pasta and bread
When you eat carbohydrates, they should be accompanied by healthy fats and protein. Fat slows down the absorption of glucose into the bloodstream and prevents sugar highs and crashes. This keeps us full longer so we can achieve our health goals and increase energy e.g nuts and a banana for a snack, egg yolks, avocados, nuts, seeds, coconut oil, organic seed or olive oil (http://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2012/jan/04/olive-oil-real-thing)
- use raw cacao nibs or powder within natural desserts e.g. frozen blended banana, coconut milk/cream, blended soaked cashews, or greek yoghurt (not the reduced fat).
- Sprinkle cinnamon on yoghurt, berries or smoothies as it is known to stabilise blood sugars and reduce sugar cravings (do not take over a tablespoon per day).
- Himalayan or sea salt sprinkled on foods can take the edge of cravings – avoid table salt which contains anti-caking agents and has had the important minerals removed. Also, avoid salt if you have high blood pressure or are consuming high amounts of processed foods.
Note: Avoid or reduce alcohol, nicotine, caffeine and artificial sweeteners as all cause a spike in blood sugars.
If you are still having trouble with sugar cravings after implementing these suggestions, you may be deficient in chromium. Chromium is a mineral that is important for balancing blood sugar levels and for kerbing sugar cravings (try the assessment to check).
Chromium is a key constituent which acts synergistically with insulin to support the cellular uptake of glucose. It is also associated with reducing all cravings and feeling full. I would recommend Gluco-Chrome which also includes cinnamon and alpha lipoic acid (also known to support the insulin – glucose disposal process), studies have found increased weight loss when including alpha lipoic acid in trials (see details in the bottom reference section of how to purchase).
The benefits and how to get started!
Once your intake of sugar reduces, your taste for whole natural foods will increase, along with your energy, immunity and more! I personally found challenging myself to 30 days of no added sugar led me to an even better state of health than I was already enjoying. Other benefits include clear skin, flatter tummy, massively reduced cravings and increased energy. Oh and no headaches! I now do my own 30-day sugar-free challenge 2 or 3 times a year and every time it is easier as I pretty much live this way most of the time, here are further details if you would like to find out more:
If I can help in any way please get in touch,
lots of love and health,
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