How To Stop Sugar Cravings – Anyone who has tried to change their diet knows that giving up the foods they love can be difficult. As a physician who strongly recommends a low-carb diet plan, I realize that sugar-sweetened foods can affect a person’s willpower. In this article, you will learn my best strategies to stop sugar cravings permanently.
Sugar has become the bane of our society, and the sad thing is that most people are unaware of the damage it does to our bodies. At about 130 grams (DAY!) of sugar per capita, America is the world’s largest consumer of dietary sugar.
Just think… 130 grams of sugar equals about ten teaspoons, the average American eats every day! It’s no surprise that conditions like obesity, cancer, and diabetes are some of the most common chronic diseases in the United States. The strategies described in this article are said to change the course of millions of lives.
There are many different mechanisms by which a person may crave sugar throughout the day. The most common underlying triggers for this are insulin resistance due to blood sugar imbalances, HPA axis dysfunction and emotional eating and poor diet or large nutritional gaps throughout the day.
HPA axis dysfunction occurs when we are under enormous stress. For many people, this stress leads to sugar cravings. Many of us have also experienced emotional eating crises when we reach for sugar to help us cope with certain emotions such as loneliness, sadness or depression.
Our ancestors’ consumption of sugar-rich foods was very different from today’s. Sweets are consumed only occasionally and in very small quantities. If we don’t get a steady flow of it today, we can’t function properly. The average American consumes more than 150 LBS of sugar per year, and nearly 50% of Americans consume half a kilogram of sugar.
A high dose of sugar sends blood sugar levels on a rollercoaster ride at best, keeping them relatively stable. Chronically elevated blood sugar results in chronically high insulin, which contributes to inflammation, hormonal imbalances, weight gain, and yes, more sugar cravings.
. This is caused by a rapid drop in blood sugar a few hours after consuming a high-sugar meal. Its symptoms include irritability (feeling hungry), weak muscles and fatigue (1).
After this collision, we go into emergency feeding mode. Unfortunately, if we don’t know what’s going on, the food we crave becomes another sugar bomb that starts the cycle all over again.
The body has many regulatory systems to keep itself healthy. The HPA axis has received much attention in recent years. The HPA axis includes the hypothalamus, pituitary gland, and adrenal glands (responsible for regulating stress).
When we are chronically stressed, not eating well, or in a constant low emotional state for long periods of time, this can lead to disruption of the HPA axis (also known as adrenal fatigue). This can be problematic for a number of reasons.
The HPA axis is responsible for the regulation of cortisol, and cortisol plays a critical role in blood sugar balance. If HPA axis dysfunction leads to chronically high or low cortisol levels, blood sugar imbalances can occur, resulting in cravings.
There is also some evidence that chronically elevated cortisol levels can inhibit our brain’s reward center and reinforce negative habits (2). Strengthening the HPA axis is a key factor in stopping sugar cravings.
If you think your eating habits are driven by your emotions or you become poor during times of high stress, this is not unusual. What I often find in this scenario is that by addressing dopamine levels, people find it much easier to control their behavior.
Dopamine is the neurotransmitter in our brain responsible for the reward system, which has a lot to do with our motivation to achieve goals, make good decisions, and regulate emotions. Sugar consumption not only raises blood sugar, but also causes a temporary increase in dopamine.
This dopamine effect of sugar is actually addictive, and when we try to eliminate sugar from our diet, we often experience a dopamine deficiency that makes it difficult to control our behavior. Additionally, blood sugar imbalances increase dopamine enzyme activity. This means that dopamine is broken down faster and more is needed to produce the same amount of pleasure(3).
Sprinkling lemon and lime juice on your food changes the way your body processes them during digestion. The citric acid in these juices changes the way your digestive system processes your food, slowing the blood sugar response (4).
Apple cider vinegar has a very similar effect and has been shown to significantly reduce the glycemic index (blood sugar response) to a high-carbohydrate meal (5).
All three liquids contain many other nutrients that aid digestion and promote better insulin signaling. Adding these to your diet is a great strategy. Alternatively, you can add 1-2 tbsp. Drink a glass of water 30 minutes before meals for the same purpose.
One of the most powerful dietary strategies I’ve found to stabilize your blood sugar, improve hormonal balance, and reduce sugar cravings is the ketogenic or low-carb/high-fat diet.
By replacing high amounts of refined sugars with primarily healthy fats and only consuming slow-digesting, low-glycemic carbohydrates (when needed), you’re taking a big step toward better health and blood sugar control.
Another benefit of eating primarily fat is its effect on satiety (the feeling of fullness after a meal). Dietary fats aid in the proper secretion of leptin, the hormone responsible for satiety and healthy blood sugar balance.
Another major cause of blood sugar imbalance is inactivity. If we don’t exercise our muscles regularly, stored sugar stays in cells while blood sugar is diverted to fat stores. By using your muscles through movement, you can burn stored sugars and improve blood sugar response for the next 2 hours.
My advice is to do 20-50 air squats when you start craving sugar. For added benefit, try this super brain yoga move that combines squatting with applying specific pressure using your fingers to improve brain function!
If you have knee problems or are unable to squat for some reason, you can also do overhead presses with light weights.
Sugar cravings can often be the result of dehydration and improper mineral balance. At first, these variables may seem unrelated, but why you crave sugar when dehydrated makes a lot of sense.
Our liver uses water in the process of converting glycogen into glucose for energy. If we are dehydrated, our ability to keep blood sugar stable decreases and the body tries to compensate by telling us to eat more sugar.
Adequate consumption of high-quality salt such as Himalayan rose can help maintain proper hydration by providing minerals and electrolytes such as magnesium, sodium and potassium. They also support the proper balance of stress hormones that can seriously affect blood sugar.
Use pink salts liberally in food or add a pinch to your water before drinking. I personally use this pink salt.
Eliminating processed sugars and rapidly digesting high-carbohydrate foods is one of the main strategies to stabilize blood sugar and eliminate sugar cravings. Make them at home with natural sweeteners like stevia and monk fruit to safely enjoy sweet and savory treats.
Both stevia and monk fruit have been shown to be safe for the diabetic population because they have no significant effect on blood sugar levels. What surprises me is that some evidence suggests that adding these sweeteners to your diet actually works.
Stress is one of the most destructive forces on the human body. But if we learn to tame it, it can also be one of our greatest tools for growth. The first step is to distinguish between stress and enough rest to fully recover. Our bodies adapt to short bursts of high stress, but chronic stress can cause problems.
I fully understand the fast-paced nature of our society today, so during times of chronic stress it is important to ground yourself with exercises such as deep breathing, meditation, gratitude, prayer and getting into nature. Such actions pull the body back into the parasympathetic state, where healing takes place. In this article, I’ll review some strategies to help you adapt more strongly.
For added support, it’s important to get enough B vitamins and magnesium to support the body’s stress responses. I’ve also found adaptogens like cordyceps and ginseng to be very powerful for this. I often use Adapt Strong to help my clients adapt to stress more effectively.
Dopamine is normally associated with the reward and pleasure centers of the brain. When we
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