I recently asked my private Facebook members what their sugar “Go To” was and I received quite a few varied, decadent responses to my inquiry; which by the way I required a GIF to represent their choice just to make it more fun!
I read (and saw) everything from chocolate chip cookies, to cake, to ice cream to anything with caramel. I myself had to respond truthfully, with my personal preference of a big bowl of pasta, which one would not expect when asked for a sugar “go to.” Give me some carbs that turn into sugar and I will be able to satisfy my craving like everyone else!
Let’s first talk about why we even have this craving to begin with. Many people look at cravings as a sign of weakness or an addiction but what if we looked at this more as our bodies sending us important messages that something is “off,” so we can then begin figuring out how to better balance our lives? Honestly, the craving is just our physical being saying “Hey, something doesn’t feel like my natural state and I feel out of whack emotionally and physically. I wonder what it could be? Oh well, let’s go get a donut!” Next time you get a craving, take that thought apart and try to figure out what is exactly going on that is making your body want something that badly to constitute a craving.
Here are a few things that could be considered culprits. See if anything resonates with you….
- The lack of a fulfilling food that is not the kind we chew and swallow. This is referred to as Primary Food which is a term coined by Dr Joshua Rosenthal, founder of The Institute for Integrative Nutrition. Many people do not look at things such as relationships, careers, fitness, or spiritual practice as having anything to do with cravings but when we experience sadness, boredom, unfulfillment, stress or anything that can cause emotional upheaval what do we do? We eat to fill the void and keep us distracted. Have you ever heard the expression “stuff the hole?” There’s your sign….
- Not drinking enough water sends the message of dehydration and this can often fool our bodies into thinking we are “kinda hungry.” We can begin to alleviate this by just drinking more water. This is one that I personally struggle with!
- Foods that were eaten by our ancestors or foods that we ate as children can also lend itself to overeating. This is where my pasta obsession comes from however as a health coach I naturally prepare these meals with added veggies, and organic, quality lean meat depending on the recipe. Portion control is also utilized. Other comfort foods can be prepared more healthfully to satisfy these cravings too!
- Sometimes our bodies crave seasonal foods, like the foods we typically eat in the summer (fruit, raw foods and even ice-cream), Fall (root veggies for grounding the body), Winter (we may see more preference for meats and hot foods) and the Spring (more taste for greens). Let’s not forget what the holidays can do to our bodies!
- If we are lacking nutrients the body will try and get what it can from foods we crave that have inadequate nutrition, such as processed foods, salt and other non nutritional foods.
- How about what these hormones can do? Whether it’s menstruation, pregnancy, menopause, all the wacky, fluctuating estrogen (and testosterone) can really produce some odd cravings!
So now we know what may be behind the cravings but…. how much sugar are we actually consuming?
Here are a few facts:
Sugar consumption in this country has increased almost annually. The cause?
Added sugars in soft drinks and processed junk food!
Soft drink companies have been raking in big bucks and it’s estimated that 33% (or even more) of added sugar intake comes from soda/soft drinks. Even those fruit juices that everyone thinks are healthy are loaded with sugar! There is so much advertising of these products however, these corporations are not telling consumers the damage these products can bring, especially to children! Increase of childhood obesity for one, heart disease, stroke, diabetes and many other diseases.
Check out these comparisons:
- A candy bar with 24g of sugar equals 6 cubes of sugar.
- An 8.3 oz energy drink with 27g of sugar is equal to 7 cubes of sugar.
- One pint of vanilla ice-cream (are you ready?) with 84 g of sugar equals 21 cubes of sugar!
- 2 pancakes with ¼ c syrup is equal to 9 cubes of sugar.
- Lastly, a liter of soda with 124 g of sugar equals 31 cubes of sugar!
What about artificial sweeteners/sugar substitutes? Isn’t that a better option you may ask? No!
Currently there are 5 artificial sweeteners that are approved by the FDA:
- Acesulfame K
I will leave it up to you to check these sweeteners in your food store to see which products contain these additives, but if you are getting headaches, blurred vision, anxiety attacks, fatigue, nausea, hyperactivity, PMS, increased appetite, dizziness, insomnia, joint pain, numbness and tingling of extremities try stopping these products and see what happens!
How do we lessen or alleviate these cravings?
- Stop eating and drinking things that can cause dehydration, such as caffeine (make sure you check out my blog on my website about the pros and cons of caffeine).
- Drink more water! Before going for the sugar get a glass of water and drink it.
- Eat sweet veggies to satisfy the craving for something sweet that is not healthy. The more of these vegetables you eat, the less craving for sugar (carrots, sweet potato, sweet peppers)
- Use alternate and healthier sweet options such as natural maple syrup, local raw honey, brown rice syrup, coconut sugar.
- Move your body! You can start simple by walking or doing some stretches or a yoga practice as you become more comfortable. When we are active we balance our blood sugar levels which gives us more energy. Less tension means no need to reach for the sugar to feel better.
- Get more sleep and rest in general. Those who are in the state of flight fright more then necessary, topped with limited sleep are prime candidates for the body to crave a quick energy fix, which is often sugar.
- Eat whole, natural foods and stay away from foods that have high amounts of sugar and salt for “flavoring” (processed foods). Natural foods have their own wonderful flavor so give your body (and palate) a chance to enjoy and appreciate food for what it actually should taste like, as mother nature intended.
- Use those spices and natural herbs! Coriander, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, cardamom and fresh mint will naturally sweeten your food and help to reduce cravings.
- Find sweetness in life! Sometimes the cravings come from something else besides what’s going on in the physical body. If these areas are identified and addressed there will be better emotional balance within, which in turn will positively affect health and wellness!
Please enjoy the following healthier “sweet treat” recipes
Please let me know how I can support you further.
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