Sugar has become an overwhelming daily temptation, One of the most difficult challenges to deal with when you start losing weight is stop sugar cravings. Sugar is very addictive and the more you eat the more you want. So how can we stop the sugar cravings? Well, to understand that, we have to understand why our body craves sugar.
Why does my body crave sugar?
There are many reasons why your body is craving sugar. It can be because of, stress, low-fat/fat free foods, hormonal imbalance, emotions, lack of vitamins/minerals, and many more! The root of the problem is food processing. Sugar cane in its raw form has fiber and nutrients, but modern day food processing strips sugar cane of its essential nutrients so by the time it hits the shelf for you to buy. Different types of sugar like high fructose corn syrup (metabolized same way as alcohol) suppress hormones leptin and ghrelin, which send signals to your brain telling you when your fat cells are full and to stop eating. This is why you can drink soda and eat candy all day and never feel full, but gain weight.
What sugar does to your body:
Suppresses your immune system.
Produces a significant rise in triglycerides. (Hello, high cholesterol!)
Reduces the body’s ability to defend against bacterial infection.
Messes with the body’s absorption of calcium and magnesium.
Can cause two blood proteins – albumin and lipoproteins – to function less effectively, which may reduce the body’s ability to handle fat and cholesterol.
The number one enemy of the bowel movement.
Can cause hormonal imbalance – some hormones become underactive and others become overactive.
Can cause toxemia during pregnancy.
Nutrient deficiencies that can cause sugar cravings
Deficiencies in vitamin & minerals can be a major cause of your sugar cravings, Deficiencies of these trace minerals, including chromium, vanadium, magnesium and zinc, are often caused by the lack of mineral-containing foods in your diet.
Chromium - This mineral plays an big part in GTF (glucose tolerance factor) which is found in your kidney cells and is necessary for insulin to work effectively in bringing glucose into your cells for energy. A chromium deficiency may cause intense cravings for sugar. Natural sources of chromium include lean meats, pork kidney, asparagus, cheese, molasses, brewer's yeast and whole grains. The recommended daily intake for men is 30 to 35 micrograms daily, and 20 to 25 micrograms for women
Vandium - Needed by your muscle to obtain enough glucose for energy and also stops the storage of excess glucose in fat cells by stabilizing production of insuline. The average intake in diet is 6 to 18 micrograms and the upper tolerable limit is 1.8 milligrams. Anything higher than that may be toxic.
Magnesium - Involved with the regulation of glucose, insulin and the neurotransmitter dopamine. If you don't have enough magnesium in your diet, you may experience cravings. The recommended intake of magnesium is 400 to 420 milligrams for men and 310 and 320 milligrams for women.
Zinc - zinc deficiency can result in low insulin levels, which may lead to a craving for sugar. Zinc is found in foods such as beef, pork, oysters, lobster, yogurt, chickpeas, almonds and oatmeal. The recommended intake of zinc is 8 milligrams for women, and 11 milligrams for men and pregnant women. Zinc toxicity can occur, and it may happen at intakes of over 40 milligrams.
B Vitamins - B vitamins like B1 and B5 keep your adrenal glands functioning properly, and B6 and B9 aid in the formation of certain neurotransmitters that help regulate mood and make you feel good.
Sulfer - helps the body decrease toxin levels. Daily instake is usally 800-900 milligrams per day.
Tryptohan - amino acid that produces serotonin, melatonin, and kynurenine. Tryptophan supplements help with depression, anxiety, and insomnia. A lack of it can cause sugar cravings by affecting your emotions.
Ways to fight sugar cravings:
Drink more water - Often times we confuse cravings with dehydration, make sure to keep yourself hydrated not only to stop sugar cravings but for many other benefits!
Add more protein to your diet - Try adding more protein to your meals and see if your sweet tooth starts to disappear. Protein helps to stabilize out blood sugar levels which helps you crave less sugar.
Avoid packaged foods that are labeled low fat. In fact, don't be afraid of fat at all - most unprocessed fats are GOOD for your body and your brain (Monounsaturated fats, Polyunsaturated fats = good fats).
Substitute The Bad For The Good.- Your mind and body can't distinguish where sugar comes from. One way to stop sugar cravings that you get from of desserts, pastries or candy is to give your body healthy natural sugars like fruit. It is a great thing to eat when you want something sweet and it also delivers many other natural vitamins and nutrients as well.
Exercise Regularly - Exercise programs make your body releases chemicals called endorphins which drastically and quickly make you feel happier and healthier, much more than a sugar rush.
Foods that fight sugar cravings:
Fruit - Naturally sweet but also contains helpful plant compounds and fiber.
Berries - High in fiber and excellent antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properies.
Carrot sticks - High in fiber to keep you full!
Nuts - Good source of healthy fats and protein.
Protein Shake - slows down the absorption of sugar and prevent glucose spikes, which, in turn, can reduce your sugar cravings.
Cinnamon - has been shown to regulate blood sugar levels and can also help reduce sugar cravings. Cinnamon minimizes insulin spikes after you’ve eaten, thereby keeping you from craving more sugar.
Eggs - excellent source of protein, healthy fats, B vitamins, omega 3 fatty acids, and even small amounts of iron—all of which have been shown to fill you up and power you throughout the day.
Beans - Black beans, navy beans, white beans, lentils and lima beans are excellent sources of fiber
Salmon - Increasing protein will help balance your blood sugar and in turn help decrease your cravings. If you eat meat, be sure to consume grass–fed beef. ( Be sure its wild caught!)
Probiotics - can be found in fermented vegetables such as sauerkraut, pickled beets and kimchi. Also try them in coconut kefir. Probiotics are good for immune health and help increase the good bacteria in your gut.
Oats - unlike most other carbohydrate-rich foods, oatmeal digests slowly and thus helps keep blood sugar on an even keel.
Romaine lettuce - Eating romaine lettuce may help control sugar cravings due to its high concentration of chromium, a mineral which plays an important role in stabilizing blood sugar levels.
Take it one day at a time!
The most important thing to keep in mind when cutting off sugar is to take it one day at a time. There will be days where you will have cravings but always keep in mind that there are ways to battle it and keep moving towards your goals! Feel free to refer back to this article any time needed and as always, feel free to contact me if you have any questions.