It’s been a bit since we’ve discussed sugar cravings on our blog, so I think it’s time to re-visit this and dive a bit deeper since there is so much to say about this topic!
There are MANY strategies to address sugar cravings besides snorting Dairy Queen ice cream, so let’s get clear on what we are up against.
-Sugar is HIGHLY ADDICTIVE to our brains.
– Sugar is a super-food for many of our “bad bugs” in our gut (candida/yeast overgrowth is one of the most common issues we see in our clinic. Candida feeds on sugar and sends messages to our brain to eat more sugar so it can survive and lead to an overgrowth.
– Sugar is in SO MANY THINGS we don’t even realize, giving Americans an average estimated intake of 40 teaspoons per person per day!
– Sugar really can provide comfort to us. Temporarily at least. Read on for mindfulness strategies to address cravings
– Many people have blood sugar roller coasters or try intermittent fasting (but aren’t good candidates for it). I’ve seen many clients get themselves into “hangry” situations when they listen more to their mind than to their body. In these low blood sugar moments, our bodies demand more sugar, thus fueling vicious carb cycling.
With so much stacked against us – how do we fight off sugar cravings and tame the beast?
Taming the Craving
There are many books and articles about this topic but I’ll drill down on a few gems we’ve seen/tried/experienced in our clients and ourselves that can help. See what applies to you!
1.) Be kind to yourself. This is truly a bundle of physiology and psychology that can be very very challenging to untangle.
2.) Think about what might be driving your cravings physiologically and do some experiments:
a) Are you “hangry” and craving carbs? If so, eat more frequently and in smaller amounts. Never eat carbs alone – pair them with protein and fat to help slow glucose absorption. For example, having apples (high sugar and carb) with nut/seed butter. Or try frozen berries with full-fat dairy-free yogurt and some nuts. The Glucose Goddess puts out a podcast with a lot of helpful hacks in this regard 🙂
b) Are you eating enough calories? If not – eat more fat! Excellent fat choices include avocados, olives, coconut oil and olive oil, nuts, and seeds. Fat keeps us easily satiated and stabilizes our blood sugar.
c) Are you dealing with dysbiosis, candida or other gut issues that could be fueling the fire of sugar cravings? Talk with Dr Jeff or FNP Heather B. to consider testing for the gut bacteria that cause our cravings.
d) Could you be deficient in specific minerals? The one’s I’m talking about are Zinc, Magnesium, Manganese, Chromium, and Copper. Mineral deficiencies are VERY COMMON these days. The leading hypothesis behind this is the depletion of natural minerals from our soil caused by conventional agricultural practices. Deficiencies in these nutrients can actually drive sugar cravings. Consider taking a good quality multi-mineral. I love this one from Klaire labs. We don’t carry it here but can recommend it through your Fullscript account. It does not contain Magnesium, however, so you’d also need to supplement with an absorbable magnesium. We sell Magnesium Glycinate in our clinic which is good for a variety of issues, and I’ve also used this brand available online. Personally, it really helped me address a major deficiency associated with painful leg cramps.
3.) Are you an EMOTIONAL EATER? This may be the hardest one to address. In our Vitality Reset program that we do a few times a year, I introduce the Seven Types of Hunger as outlined by Jan Chozen Bays, MD in her book, Mindful Eating. “Heart Hunger” can be the trickiest to untangle because it meets our universal need for comfort. Few of us turn to broccoli or chicken when we are stressed, sad, worried, or lonely. Bring on the ice cream, right?!
a) To help with this habit, I suggest trying a mindfulness practice called “Urge Surfing.” (Note: I was THRILLED to see this link in such a mainstream online presence as WebMD!!! This has been big in the mindfulness world for a while).
b) Here’s another great resource to dive into that discusses mindful eating exercises and tips
c) I always come back to our attitudes of curiosity and compassion
While you are practicing with changing your brain, try substituting a different food instead of sugar. Or try distracting yourself by taking a walk, a bath, having a cup of tea, calling a friend, or playing the guitar. The idea is to choose something else that is healthier than that blueberry strudel.
Please reach out to our clinic if sugar cravings are a challenge for you. I’m no stranger to this one, for sure. Members of Healthy Connections have visits with me as part of your membership….don’t be afraid to use it!
Basically, friends – THIS IS COMPLEX.
Like everything in health, sugar cravings are an individualized situation, requiring personalized tools. YES it’s super common to crave sugar!!! But the ROOT CAUSES of your sugar cravings will be unique to YOU.
Reach out. Our team is here for you!