Are you at the type of person that is at the café for a piece of cake every afternoon at 3pm? Or perhaps you can’t finish a meal without having a sugary treat. Some of us think about sugar all day long! And no doubt the media has taught you that sugar is the crack cocaine of the food world – so a sugar addiction can’t be good right?
Well, we certainly are eating more of it than ever before, and the type of sugar that we eat is more refined than what our ancestors were eating. This combined with the fact that most of us sit in chairs all day with limited physical movement has created an issue. However it’s not all bad news. You can have your cake and eat it too – but it’s about understanding the various types of sugar and being in control of when we have it so that we can look after our bodies without feeling deprived.
Sugar is the simplest form of carbohydrate available to the body and can be used as a source of fuel for our cells to turn into energy. It can also be used a little bit like a drug, making us feel good when we are feeling down or giving us that kick of energy in the mid-afternoon when the post-lunch slump turns the computer screen into a blur. When we have a craving for sugar or for more complex carbs (like grains, potatoes, sweet potatoes) when our blood sugar drops a little (or when we are feeling a bit crappy). This can happen with ‘blood sugar imbalance’, which is not really an illness as such, more a slight dysfunction which is easily fixed. What often happens is we can get caught up in a vicious sugar cycle – we crave, we eat, we crave again, we eat again and so on – and a blood sugar yo-yo effect is what keeps us coming back for more. Breaking this cycle is not always easy, but once it is done, we are no longer in the trap, and no longer a slave to sugar.
Let’s look at some simple ways to improve your blood sugar balance and reduce your sugar cravings:
- Eat protein at breakfast time – this has been shown to be beneficial for many different physiological syndromes of blood sugar imbalance. It also helps to keep you fuller for longer throughout the day and make better food choices.
- Try some healthy alternatives when the craving hits– an apple and a handful of almonds or cashews makes a great mid afternoon snack to keep you going until knock off time.
- Make sure to snack on healthy snacks regularly throughout the day – try a piece of fruit and a handful of nuts, a boiled egg, hummus and carrot sticks, bliss balls
- Add 1 teaspoon of cinnamon to your breakfast or include in cups of tea. Cinnamon helps to regulate blood sugar, which in turn reduces your body’s likelihood of having a craving
- Try dark chocolate instead of milk/sweet chocolate. Often a switch to 70% dark chocolate (which is low in sugar) allows you to feel like you have had your treat, without you needing to consume a high level of sugar. Chocolate also contains antioxidants which are protective to your health and theobromines, which make you feel good.
- If you are going to have a sweet treat, try having it with some protein and fat – this will slow down digestion time, delaying the release of sugar into your blood stream and reducing the yo-yo effect of eating sugar explained above.
- If you are still struggling with your cravings, please book in to see a naturopath as there can be deeper reasons for this that need examination.