Are you sick to your stomach from sugar cravings? Cravings are a telling sign, and if you listen carefully to your body, you may just be able to hear what it is crying out for.
Cravings for sugar and flour in the form of cakes, cookies, pasta, bread, crackers, biscuits etc, is often due to stress, imbalanced blood sugar levels and/or nutrient deficiencies.
For example craving chocolate can indicate low magnesium levels. Stress, which depletes energy stores, often sees us reaching for some sort of sweet pick-me-up which subsequently results in a spiral of blood sugar imbalances and more cravings.
There are however some practical ways to radically reduce cravings and improve health.
Balance blood sugar levels by eating 3 nourishing meals every day. Each meal, especially breakfast, should consist of a high quality protein; fats from whole foods such as avocado, coconut milk and grass fed butter; and some type of nutrient-dense vegetable from which you get your minerals, vitamins and fibre. Cravings are often triggered by low blood sugar levels as a result of not eating enough, skipping meals and/or regularly eating processed carbohydrate foods. These temporarily spike, then crash blood sugar levels. When this happens, the brain knows exactly what to do to get the blood sugar back up into the comfort zone…. it sends you seeking fast energy (sugar and flour) and slow energy (fats). We call these cravings!
Prepare your environment by removing offending foods from sight and replacing them with healthy snacks. I don't actually recommend snacking, but I do suggest being prepared should you get hungry between meals. Instead of grabbing a latte, muffin, or cheese crackers, have things like olives, sliced beef, boiled egg, nut butters, cut veggies, hummus and guacamole on hand. These fat and protein-rich foods are not only nourishing, they will keep you satisfied longer.
Sip on herbal teas for they not only provide additional micro and phytonutrients for improved digestive function, but also help regulate blood sugar levels. Fresh mint or peppermint are excellent for cutting through a sweet tooth, so too is the more pungent fresh ginger or green teas.Sip on herbal teas
Managing stress will help reduce triggering the fat-storing stress hormone, cortisol. The human stress response is one of nature's truly amazing survival mechanisms. Our response to stress is to increase the production of energy by making available glucose + sugar which when combined, make energy in our cells. This surge of energy helps us to either stand and fight or turn and fee, depending on what the situation calls for. This system was developed when we lived in the middle of the food chain and was essential to our survival. Fast forward to modern life and the types of chronic stressors we experience today rarely call for fighting or running. In fact, few require any physical response - think when you are stuck in traffic or having an altercation with someone over the phone. The excess cortisol and glucose and can be the difference between good digestion and digestive distress. to keep an even keel. Adding a short meditation or just a few deep breaths before eating helps relax the entire nervous system, identify our stressors and find ways to deal. My personal favourite is taking as little as 5 minutes a day to sit quietly and focus on the breath. It's often all that is needed. We often think of stress as being emotional or physical, however regardless of the cause, the body’s chemical response is always the same. Physical stressors include dehydration, lack of sleep, too much or too little exercise, hormone imbalances, high blood sugar levels, allergies including eating foods to which you are sensitive, negative self talk, boredom, lack of joy or purpose. It is essential that we result in fat being stored around the belly four times faster than anywhere else in the body. Belly fat is highly metabolically active, and linked to a variety of degenerative health issues including heart disease, diabetes and obesity
Magnesium deficiency is very common as both stress and sugar consumption deplete magnesium stores. It is essential for over 300 enzymatic reactions in the body, in particular those involved in energy production. Foods rich in magnesium include kelp, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, spinach, broccoli, swiss chard, salmon, oysters, halibut, scallops and the herbs sage, parsley and basil. Epsom salt baths are not only soothing, relaxing and a great stress-buster, they also provides transdermal (absorbed through the skin) magnesium. Sprinkle 2 cups of Epsom salt (no colouring or perfumes) into running bathwater and soak for 20 minutes.
What to eat for breakfast is probably the number one question clients ask. It's not always easy especially when rushing out the door to work, to school or to exercise. If this is the case, take a look at my Brain Breakfast e-book. Available free on the home page of this website. Simply click through to www.alexissmithnutrition.comand fill in the form for instant access to recipes.