We all know that sugar isn’t good for us and that it’s not essential to survive, so why are we still hooked? The top 2 reasons are:
- Eating even a small amount creates a desire for more; and
- Sudden quitting causes withdrawal symptoms such as headaches, mood swings, cravings and fatigue.
It’s important to realize that sugar is an addictive substance – just like caffeine and even drugs & alcohol. We often put it all down to lack of willpower but this isn’t the case so don’t blame yourself for being “weak” or give up when you fall off the wagon.
When it comes to sugar, it is not simply that we don’t have the willpower or discipline to control our cravings – there are some deeper, physiological and biological reasons behind our urge.
I have helped numerous clients understand why they have those uncontrollable cravings, and what they can do to reduce them naturally and gradually over time. When we understand the reason behind those cravings, we have a much better chance to outsmart them and curb them using ways other than sugar and take back control!
Cravings for sugar or refined carbohydrates can happen when our body needs an energy fix. Our body can extract energy from sugar very quickly, and is therefore the “food of choice” when a quick fix is needed.
To avoid the need for an energy quick fix, eat for sustained energy. Eat meals that are low in glycemic load – whole unprocessed foods such as whole grains, vegetables, and beans are great choices. They are high in fiber, which moderates the speed at which the sugar is absorbed by the body. Also, make sure you include a moderate amount of good fat and lean protein to slow down stomach emptying and increase satiety.
To support the body’s energy production, increase intake of foods rich in vitamin Bs – they are vital in our body’s energy production cycle. Good choices are whole grains, wheat germ, and brewer’s yeast.
Cravings and fatigue can be caused by dehydration. Our body often misinterprets the sensation of thirst as hunger. Next time when you feel your cravings coming on, drink a glass of water, wait 15 minutes, and see if you are still hungry.
Cravings can be a sign of nutrient deficiency. Cravings for different flavor or texture can translate to a lack of various nutrients. If you crave sugary food, you may look into deficiencies in chromium, sulfur and the amino acid tryptophan.
Low Protein Intake
If you have a relatively low protein diet and tend to crave sugar and feel fatigue easily, try increasing your protein intake, or experiment with the type of protein in your diet. Besides meat, poultry & fish you can try nuts and seeds, good quality cheese in moderate amount, as well as eggs, Greek yogurt, lentils and beans.
If you have been asked to take a treat to a potluck or work event this year, try out these amazing Carrot Cake Balls courtesy of Joy McCarthy & her Joyous Health cookbook
Carrot Cake Balls
¾ cup unsweetened shredded coconut
6 Medjool dates, pitted
¾ cup walnuts
½ cup grated carrots
¼ cup hemp seeds
¼ cup honey
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 tsp cinnamon
½ tsp nutmeg
¼ tsp ground cloves
- Reserve ¼ cup shredded coconut in a shallow dish for rolling. Place remaining ingredients in a high-powdered food processor and process until fully combined.
- Form mixture into 1-inch balls and roll in reserved shredded coconut, coating balls completely.
- Transfer to baking sheet and refrigerate for a few hours or overnight.
- Keep chilled either in the fridge or freezer – they taste way better when cold.
- Enjoy 1 or 2 as a snack or dessert.