Q. How do I beat my sugar cravings?
A. Americans are in an addictive sugar crisis—we consume far too many calories from sugar and unhealthy carbohydrates, and our bodies are not equipped to handle them. Unfortunately, sugar is both highly addictive and can lead to a variety of health problems, like obesity, type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, cancer, tooth decay and more.
It’s important to know that the sugar addiction cycle is fed through a reward-feedback system: blood sugar dramatically drops after consuming unhealthy carbohydrates, which affects a part of the brain that controls impulse, thus leading to a loss of self-control and craving for more sugary satisfaction.
To reduce cravings, we must begin with a well-balanced nutritional foundation that encourages stable blood sugar. Here are simple ways to support your body in the fight against sugar cravings.
Stay hydrated. We often mistake dehydration for hunger or cravings. Stay hydrated by consuming ½–1 oz of water per pound of body weight.
Stabilize blood sugar with smaller, more frequent meals. Aim for 5–6 smaller meals instead of 2–3 large meals.
Consume blood sugar-stabilizing foods. Foods that can help normalize blood sugar include berries, brewer’s yeast, dairy products (especially cheese), egg yolks, fish, garlic, kelp, sauerkraut, soybeans and vegetables. Healthy fats and protein are always a good bet, as they provide needed satisfaction for sustained energy and blood sugar balance.
Add spice to your day. Cinnamon, cardamom and nutmeg naturally sweeten food, help balance blood sugar and reduce sugar cravings.
Get adequate sleep and exercise. Feeling tired often leaves us grabbing for sugary foods for quick energy. Exercise boosts energy levels and tames stress.
Support your brain with serotonin. Serotonin is our feel-good neurotransmitter, and adequate levels can help curb sugar cravings. Boost serotonin through healthy diet, exercise, sleep and supplementation, such as Pharmaca 5-HTP.
Eat your greens. Greens are a top all-around healthy choice for providing your body with serious nutrition, curbing sugar cravings and balancing pH—which is important because an overly acidic internal environment lends to toxic conditions such as candida and bacterial overgrowth. An easy way to get your greens: Health Force Nutritionals Spirulina Manna.
Get enough fiber. Fiber helps you feel fuller longer, helps maintain bowel regularity and detoxifies along the way. Dietary sources of fiber (especially fruits and vegetables) are the best choice, but supplementing can be a good substitute when needed. Try Renew Life Skinny Gut Organic Fruit & Acacia Fiber.
Get your magnesium. Magnesium deficiency has been linked to sugar cravings, so make sure you are getting adequate intake through dark leafy greens, nuts, seeds, brown rice, quinoa and avocados. For a a good magnesium supplement, try Pure Encapsulations Magnesium Glycinate or Pharmaca Magnesium Citrate.
Support your adrenals. Weak adrenals can leave you tired, stressed and looking for quick sugary sources of energy. Nourish your adrenal glands with supplements like Gaia Herbs Adrenal Health or Vitanica Adrenal Assist.
Balance with chromium. Also known as glucose tolerance factor (GTF), chromium is critical for healthy insulin action and glucose utilization, also supporting normal blood glucose and decreasing carbohydrate cravings. Food sources include broccoli, sweet potatoes, apples, whole grains and pastured eggs. Or, try Thorne Research Chromium Picolinate or Solaray GTF Chromium.
Increase your zinc. Zinc is needed for insulin and glucose utilization; get it through food sources such as whole grains, pumpkin seeds Brazil nuts and pastured eggs, or try MegaFood Zinc.