“A spoonful of sugar makes the medicine go down” ~ “Sugar and spice and everything nice…”
Mood swings, sleep disorders, chronic inflammation, low immunity, digestive issues, hormone imbalance and the list goes on. Most of you reading this can relate to one if not all of these issues. AND most of you already know that if you cut out sugar (among other inflammatory substances) you could see great improvements in your health. The problem is the sweetness calls to you, maybe even whispers sweet words to you, and you find yourself elbow deep in a pint of ice cream or running to the cupboards to find the hidden chocolate stash. And all this after your seemingly nourishing meal. But you were doing so well… But you are following all of the rules… Why does sugar always win?!!
Sugar cravings and sugar addiction are complex as they always involve the weaving of our emotional and physical selves. I can go into the self-love speech. I could talk endlessly about how sugar has been used as the grand reward and remedy for everything from simply coming home after a long day at school to, of course, the broken heart. But, I think most of us deeply have the emotional intelligence to understand how we get caught up in the “sweet treat” piece of the sugar pie. In order to understand sugar you must understand- sugar.
Ok- so I am going to say something that you wouldn’t expect. Sugar is not necessarily the enemy. The enemy is how we have altered sugar into around 30 different ways to sweeten things up. It is how since the dawn of processed and packaged foods it is in EVERYTHING to make your food more palatable, sellable and addictive. It’s in how we misuse the word sugar like we do “carbs” and start restricting necessary nutrients for our bodies. And, back to the emotional piece, it carries the message of “you deserve to treat yourself” which causes a sense that you are deprived. And our animal brains do NOT like to be deprived.
You NEED sugar. The body relies on glucose for almost everything to keep you alive. It provides energy for your cells and your brain. The proper balance of proper sugars in your body help regulate your entire endocrine system. Of course if you have Dysbiosis, SIBO, Candida, diabetes and/or are obese your sugar cravings are going to come from a much deeper imbalance, and I recommend you work with a good ND. But for the rest of us, I am going to focus on why I think sugar cravings are truly the great equalizer- meaning why does almost everyone have an issue!?
If I were to compile all the reasons for cravings they would all mostly boil down to 2 things:
• imbalanced blood sugar
• misunderstanding the difference between sugar as friend and sugar as enemy
Blood sugar imbalance: Mismanaged blood sugar is the most prominent underlying cause of the hormone imbalances, emotional issues and fatigue that I see in clients. There can be a whole list of reasons your body’s blood sugar is all over the place. For most of us (mainly women) we live a life of perma- dieting, food fads and restriction. The most frustrated client is the one who thinks that the new all plant based whole foods diet or the high protein grass fed animal diet is supposed to be super healthy, but the sugar cravings (mostly at night) are still so strong. And, depending on your body, these can be very healthy plans. But, that is the kicker- we don’t eat to nourish our body. We blindly follow plans and restrict our intake without considering our nutritional needs. If you aren’t eating enough protein, fat and carbohydrates in the proper ratio for your energy needs, then your blood sugar will yo-yo. You will crash regardless of what kind of super paleo or uber greens plan you are following.
Sugar as the frenemy: The only time I see anyone thrive when removing sugar from their diet is when they have a very good understanding of the difference between sugars found in whole nourishing foods and the white stuff in cookies and cakes. Like I said- you NEED sugar. The white stuff will kill you, but the natural sugars in our foods supply nourishing, usable, balancing energy.
I so often hear someone say- “Oh, I don’t eat carrots. They have too much sugar.” It makes me kind of want to scream, but I know they are just following a slew of misguidance out there around how to eat. The healthiest people I know eat a whole cornucopia of whole fresh fruits and vegetables. I will also make a little plug for raw honey here… It is full of enzymes and immune boosting properties. I consider it a food, but it must be raw. A tablespoon a day in addition to a very well balanced diet will help cravings and nourish your body.
As I said in the beginning, there are many layers to sugar cravings. However, once all of those are peeled away you are still left with a human body that thrives on a balance of nourishment, understanding and love. Learn this and you can “have your carrot and eat it to.”
Tips that help:
- Get guidance. Having someone look at your patterns will set you up for success.
- Eat a proper ratio of carbohydrates/proteins/ fats from whole unprocessed high quality foods.
- Do not restrict and be strict. If you are hungry- eat.
- Take digestive enzymes with HCL (hydrochloric acid). Zymemax by Advanced Naturals is amazing. This will help nutrient absorption.
- Adding sweet potatoes and brown rice into your diet can greatly reduce cravings by adding sufficient carbohydrate and the sweet flavor your body craves.
- Eat fruit as a daily snack. Only consume ripe fruits, as they are more bioavailable.
- Do not have coffee first thing in the morning. This is a cortisol/stress/blood sugar nightmare way to start the day. Eat first.
- Chew your food. When you slow down and chew the natural sugars are released, and you feel more completely satisfied.
- Whenever a craving hits, drink a glass of water first.
For more guidance, support and sweetness make an appointment with Jamie, LMP!