The reason you’re addicted to sugar (and what to do about it)
Sugar cravings be gone.
As a kid, many meals revolved around one thing: Dessert at the end of course!
If I finished my broccoli or spaghetti, then..
Chances are, if you are one of many Americans, you neeeeed sugar too.
Or at least you crave it.
“What do I do for my sugar cravings!?” is one of the top questions I am asked multiple times per week.
And although one may KNOW they don’t neeeeed it to survive, they neeeeed it to satisfy a craving that otherwise feels unmanageable.
Try as you might to walk away from the kitchen, think about other things or remind yourself that it is just a craving…it doesn’t make it any easier.
Your body has become hard-wired and conditioned to run and rely on sugar, carbohydrates and, often times caffeine (coffee) as its prefferred fuel sources.
In spite of trying to mentally “get over it” in your own strength, the physical chemical processes in your body are conditioned to NEED sugar (and need sugar NOW)—making you think, crave and day dream about it.
Sugar Cravings Aren’t Just In Your Head.
If you have a history of a low-fat, restrictive, sugar-rich or processed food diet, your body has become more of a “sugar burner”—looking to sugar as it’s primary fuel (i.e. sweets, bread and baked goods, fruits, cereals, bars, grains, etc.).
Just like you can physically train your body to wake up at 6 a.m. every morning, require caffeine for an energy boost, or like green things as an adult, you can train your body to need sugar (quick energy).
Since your body is always longing for balance, it’s decided:
“I guess your restrictive diet of oats, tuna, chicken, broccoli, rice cakes, salads, egg whites and Splenda are what I have to deal with and survive upon”
“I guess if you’re just going to eat packaged, processed foods like granola bars, chips and salsa and margaritas, I need to learn to make due”….
And so, the body looks to sugar (glucose) for quick energy (i.e. craving carbs and sweets).
A huge piece to this puzzle is insulin.
Insulin CRAVES sugar.
Insulin is the hormone that delivers sugar (glucose) from carbs to your cells for energy and/or muscle repair; it also stores excess glucose in cells for the future.
If we eat more sugar or carbohydrates (without a balance of fats and proteins), insulin gets happy and spikes.
However, if don’t eat enough sugar (low-carb diets), insulin crashes (3 pm slump, 10 a.m. caffeine cravings, post-diet dinner dessert needs).
Thus, in order to return back to “norm”, this dip signals to your body, “I NEED sugar!”
Enter: Sugar cravings.
Aye! Aye ! Aye!
So how do you REALLY get a handle on your sugar cravings?
(Especially when you’ve tried to “just stop thinking about it” or “just practice self-control”).
Re-wire your body.
The cool part? You can do so naturally:
- Add healthy fats to every meal (and also snacks). Counter sugar with fat. Healthy fat turns on the “long burning fuel” mechanism in our body—helping balance out your blood sugar for longer stretches of time. Some healthy fats to choose from? Avocado, nuts and seeds, olive oil, coconut oil, avocado oil, coconut butter, coconut, lard, tallow, pasture-raised egg yolks, organic, animal meat, olives, flax, chiaseeds, coconut milk, paleo mayo, ghee/grass-fed butter fatty fish, and cod liver oil. (Snack ideas below). (P.S. fat does NOT make you fat. Instead eating fat helps your body USE fat more efficiently).
- Power up with protein. Include a palm-size portion (or more) at each meal, including meat, poultry, fish, eggs are unlimited, if no sensitivity exists. Protein helps satiate us.
- Sprinkle sea salt. Help balance body (and the wonky ups and downs) with a pinch of sea salt in your water a couple times per day. A low-salt diet increases insulin resistance (meaning: your insulin needs more sugar to help it feel satisfy).
- Check in with yourself. Is your craving hunger? Heart hunger? Head hunger? Sight hunger? Smell hunger? Cravings go far beyond “hunger.” Recognize what kind of hungry you are.
- Take a Time-Out. Some folks find that a complete T-O (time out) from certain trigger foods is necessary. By taking a time out from plantain chips, chocolate almonds or ice cream every night, they are able to eventually establish a healthier “20%” relationship with the food—where it can be part of a healthy, balanced diet on occasion—without feeling controlled by it. This may also include changing up your ENVIRONMENT or the habits you had around your sugar eating (like tv watching, or being alone and bored after dinner. It’s up to you to SHIFT the environmental factors that need to change).
- No Guilt. Humans want what they “can’t have.” When you pose sugar and sweets as something you should feel guilty about ( “off limits” foods), then it can make you want it more (reverse psychology). Aim to eat balanced meals throughout the day including proteins, fats and veggies, then let life happen (one cookie or piece of chocolate included—not 24).
- Heal your gut. This one is huge. An irritated gut lining or poor digestive gut flora (one with bacteria that “feeds” off sugar, or can’t process sugar) is going to CRAVE sugar (we often crave foods we are intolerant to because bad bacteria LIKE it). Heal your gut with a probiotic + fermented foods (sauerkraut, kombucha, yogurt, water kefir) and other gut healing foods (bone broth, ginger, garlic, beets) +L-Glutamine (an amino acid correlated with diminishing sugar cravings and healing the gut lining). Pair these with proper digestive practices (chewing, slowing down, relaxing) + any other additional supports for improved gut flora.
- Don’t Go It Alone. Consider consulting with a nutritional therapist or functional medicine practitioner for guidance in an appropriate “body re-balancing” program (including individualized nutrition, digestive support, hormonal rebalancing andany other helpful supplementation for you).
3 p.m. crash? Craving strike? Instead of your old sugary granola bar staple, grab one of these healthy-fat based snack instead:
- Jillz Crackers + Raw grass-fed cheese
- ½ Apple or Banana + 1 tbsp. Almond Butter
- Celery Sticks + Sunflower Seed Butter + Raisins
- Coconut Butter Packet
- Hardboiled Eggs or Deviled Eggs with Guacamole
- Homemade Kale Chips, drizzled in olive oil, sea salt + pepper
- Homemade roasted veggie chips or ‘fries’ (carrots, zucchini) drizzled in olive oil, sea salt + pepper
- Coleslaw with paleo mayo + diced apple + walnuts
- Kale salad with dried cranberries, pecans + olive oil & apple cider vinegar
- Nitrate-free Pepperoni Chips + Guacamole
- Plantain chips + Nitrate-free Salami slices
- Paleo mayo dip + Cucumbers
- Roast beef wrapped around red bell pepper
- Egg “Muffins” (Egg + sausage + veggies, baked in muffin tins)
- Zucchini Bread
- Cauliflower “popcorn”
- Tomato + cucumber + olive oil + black pepper + grass-fed mozzarella
- Homemade avocado-cacao pudding
- Chiaseed Pudding
- Beef, turkey or salmon jerky
- Chicken drumsticks
- Bulletproof Collagen Bars
- My sunbutter collagen protein bars
- Bone broth + 1 tbsp. grass-fed butter
- Turkey “roll-ups” with avocado and mustard
- Smoked or Canned wild salmon or sardines
- Nitrate-free bacon wrapped asparagus
- Shrimp or Chicken & Veggie Skewers drizzled in olive oil
- Ground bison or turkey meatballs with honey mustard dipping sauce (no additives)
- Coconut milk + chocolate protein powder + crushed ice + greens
- Homemade almond butter cookie
- Homemade spinach/artichoke dip (like this one)+ veggie sticks
- Baked apple or peach with cinnamon, drizzled with coconut oil
- 1-ingredient “ice cream” + chopped nuts or nutbutter
- Handful raw nuts or seeds
- Prosciutto wrapped melon or pickles
- Fermented full-fat, grassfed yogurt (or CoYo yogurt)
- Chicken or tuna salad with paleo mayo
- “Fat bombs” (see recipe below)
Recipe: Thrive Fat Bombs
- ½ cup Raw Almond Butter, Cashew Butter or Sunflower Seed Butter
- 1/3 cup Coconut Flakes
- 1/3 cup Enjoy Life Chocolate Chips (or 80%+ dark chocolate chips)
Mix all ingredients together in a bowl. Form into 6 golf-ball size balls. Place on parchment paper-lined baking sheet. Place in freezer to set. Keep in airtight container in fridge.
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