The truth is out – sugar, not healthy fats, is the real culprit behind diet-related health issues like diabetes and obesity. Because sugar is more addictive than cocaine, sugar cravings can feel impossible to overcome on willpower alone. Cutting sugar out is one of the hardest dietary changes to make because our stressed out, sleep deprived, always on-the-go lifestyles make us crave that quick pick-me-up all the more. It’s time for real life tips to beat sugar cravings and get on track to a healthy diet and healthy weight once and for all.
Get Off the Blood Sugar and Insulin Roller Coaster
When you eat a meal or snack high in sugar and refined carbs, your blood sugar spikes quickly. This stimulates the release of insulin, which is good, because it escorts that sugar out of the blood and into the cells where it can be burned for fuel. But high insulin causes the sugar to be taken into the cells more quickly, which causes hypoglycemia, or a sugar low. Low blood sugar causes you to crave sugar; it’s a protective mechanism so your sugar doesn’t go life-threateningly low.
This is the #1 reason you crave sugar. Back in mankind’s hunter-gatherer time this was good, because available carbs were healthy. They didn’t have the concession stand at the ball game or the racks of candy bars and coolers of soda at the gas station to tempt them into something quick and high in sugar until they could get a real meal. And when you eat that candy bar or drink that soda your blood sugar spikes again, insulin rises, then blood sugar drops again, and this is the roller coaster ruling your cravings.
The key to getting off this dangerous ride is in protein, healthy fats and fiber. Each of these slows gastric emptying, which slows the speed of sugar in the diet turning into sugar (glucose) in the blood. If you start your day with something high in sugar and refined carbs like donuts, you set yourself up for a quick rise in blood sugar, followed by a sharp drop, which brings on a craving for more sugar to fix the problem. Ever had a high carb breakfast only to be starving again mid-morning? That’s the blood sugar and insulin roller coaster. Instead, start your day with a healthy meal involving protein, healthy fats and fiber, and you get a slow, steady release of sugar over time instead of a spike, so the highs and lows never come. Include this power trio in several small meals and snacks throughout your day, and watch your cravings disappear.
Beat Sugar Cravings with Supplements
Have you ever tried to go cold turkey on sugar only to have the cravings draw you back in? It takes menu planning and meal preparation time to change your diet to whole, natural foods and eliminate the processed foods and sweets. Let’s face it – our fast-paced lifestyles don’t make it easy to make these changes. According to Ann Louise Gittleman’s book Get the Sugar Out, these supplements can help bridge the gap until you’re ready to make the lifestyle leap for better health:
- A little L-Glutamine goes a long way. Times of stress lead to several amino acid deficiencies, and often diet alone isn’t enough to overcome them. A diet high in sugar and refined carbs also pushes out nutrient dense foods and causes these same amino acid deficiencies. When these amino acids are low, “feel good” neurotransmitters like serotonin are low and cause sugar cravings for the boost in mood we get. L-Glutamine in 500 mg doses 3 times per day can cut the sugar cravings almost instantly, according to Ann Louise. It’s a simple short-term solution while you work out the long-term diet changes.
- Chromium, Manganese and Zinc are often deficient when diet is high in sugar and refined carbs. Supplementing with these minerals helps beat the cravings by doing their part to control blood sugar levels and keep you off the roller coaster. Chromium is usually dosed at 200-600 mg daily, Manganese is 10-30 mg daily, and 30-50 mg of Zinc.
- In a time crunch, a high quality protein powder used in your favorite morning smoothie recipe can balance out those carbs, calm the sugar highs and lows, and stop the cravings before they start. Whey protein and low glycemic grain and vegetable proteins are good choices, make sure they are non-GMO with no sugar added.
Hungry for more? If you’re ready to make changes and improve your health, Ann Louise’s book Get the Sugar Out has over 500 tips to help you get the sugar out of your diet.