Why Crave Sugar?
Human beings run on sugar. It’s the basic building blocks of the body, known as glucose. Then why is sugar considered so “bad”?
Many of us already accept the mounting evidence against white refined sugar. We know that as Dr. Nancy Appleton points out in her book, Lick the Sugar Habit, Sugar Addiction Upsets your Whole Body Chemistry, sugar was once referred to as “white death.” Furthermore, as the article Harmful Effects of Excess Sugar calls sugar, “immune-suppressing” and notes “Sugar sours behavior, attention, and learning.” The author of Sugar: A Health Threat More Pervasive than Cigarettes and Alcohol, writes, “Sugar intensifies food cravings… and causes people to eat far more than they otherwise would.…sugar also disrupts normal food metabolism.”
The facts point out, modern day Americans get too much sugar and it’s causing dis-ease at an accelerated rate never before seen. If you’re like me and you want to have a long, healthy, high-quality life with little to no necessary outside medical intervention then you’ll want to get a handle on your sugar intake. Here’s how we start: Let’s understand why we crave sugar, forget what doesn’t work and tap into what actually can help us kick sugar addiction while continuing to enjoy the sweetness of life.
Why do we get sugar cravings? There are several possible reasons. One is that it’s natural. The body runs on glucose (a form of sugar) and the lactose in breast milk is also a form of sugar (with many other critical nutrients.) My first question for those with sugar cravings is, are you eating enough? This might sound like a strange question since it’s been ingrained in us that if we want to lose weight (the long-time motivator for ‘get-healthy’ goals) then you need to monitor or limit calories. What’s often ignored is that the human body self regulates. I recently chatted with a man who was dumbfounded why he wasn’t losing weight when he proudly proclaimed he was down to one meal a day. If you don’t give your body enough fuel it goes into ‘economy mode’ (or starvation mode) just like your car. As Dr. Clémence Blouet says, “When we eat less, our body compensates and burns fewer calories, which makes losing weight harder.” So if we don’t get enough fuel the body screams out for quick energy in the form of sugar! Tip #1 is: Eat enough whole, nutrient-dense foods to fuel you properly, which helps to curb cravings.
According to Ayurveda (ancient Indian medicine) there are six different flavors we need for optimal health including: sweet, sour, salt, bitter, pungent, astringent. So it’s natural and human to want a sweet flavor in your diet. After all, our Paleolithic ancestors ate fruit so why can’t we?! What is un-natural, is the amount of sugar we can easily consume daily without even knowing it. It’s everywhere! Sugar is in condiments, in so-called healthy drinks and nearly every packaged food on the planet. There are over 200 types of sugars in existence today and the S.A.D (Standard American Diet) is overloaded with them. As Dr. Mercola points out, “The average American consumes around 20 teaspoons of added sugar a day. This is more than three times the recommended amount, and the evidence clearly indicates that this dietary trend goes hand in hand with our current epidemics of obesity and chronic disease.” Tip #2: Get educated on what ‘sugars’ are in your food, read labels and look up terms you can’t pronounce.
The human brain likes inertia. We are creatures of habit. When it’s routine, it’s easier for us. Sometimes we pick up behavioral habits of eating sweets just because it’s easy to do so. When co-workers bring in donuts is easier to participate than to explain why you’re not eating one. Most of us take the same route to work, eat the same food routinely and find it challenging to take on new behaviors. It’s nothing to feel badly about… it’s human! The good news is, it’s up to us to decide and then make changes. The bad news is, it’s up to us to decide and make changes. [Wink.] As Marshall Goldsmith notes in his book Triggers: Creating behavior that lasts, becoming the person you want to be, adult behavior change is the hardest thing you’ll ever do and “just because people understand what to do doesn’t ensure that they will actually do it.” So… Tip #3: Decide what you want and why you want it. Go beyond surface level weight loss goals and find your deeper reason why you want to take on a change in your behavior. Deciding why is the first important step!
If you’re relying on willpower it’s time to give up the ghost. Not one organizational change is built around desire alone. There are think-tanks, plans, experts and blueprints for changes made in the workplace. Why should personal habit change be any different? Real, lasting habit change needs a plan, support, resources, structure and action. How do you do that? There are a ton of resources to tap into to help you achieve your goals around health. But human beings can increase our effectiveness exponentially when we have a support system. Whether it is a self-imposed buddy system or an expert health coach (like myself) to help you stay accountable, build a system for yourself and your goals. Ad if you’re curious about how health coaching works, you get a FREE 20-minute coaching session with me just for reading this! Just contact me and find out how it works. Like I always say to clients, “If you want a new and different result you’ve never had before, you’re going to have to actually do something new and different.” Tip #4: Build your support team, enlist experts to help you with resources and staying accountable.
WHAT WORKS TO SUPPORT YOU
First, there are things you can take to help support you with sugar cravings. I like to lean on real food and herbs, spices and quality supplements as my go-to for support. For instance, avocados help balance blood sugar and coconut oil can help resolve hunger pains by offering fat for long-burning energy. Try incorporating more flavors into your daily food prep, bitter foods in particular help to offset sweet cravings.
One ancient herb gurmar leaf (gymnema sylvestre) is actually known as the “destroyer of sugar.” Used for centuries (hence, the humanity of this problem) in the Ayurvedic tradition it helps prevent or delay sugar absorption and reduced cravings when taken in pill form. Other herbs and spices like cinnamon and turmeric also have great benefits in this area. Here’s a formula from Fusionary Formulas that is specifically formulated to curb sweet cravings, and since I know the owner of the company I know it’s quality!
Second, there are things you can do to help support you in getting off of sugar. Number one, and super important is to address your mindset. Figure out how to shed the idea that this journey is about deprivation. You can have some amazing foods that are unequivocally delicious and they don’t include the “white death!” Find the sweets in nature that support health and enjoy them as we’ve done through history: seasonally, locally and sparingly. I love sautéing an apple in coconut oil — simple, yet delicious! Not to mention I can make my own chocolate candies from a few key ingredients! #drooling
To help you limit your exposure to sugar, do a food journal or track what you eat in an app. You’re less likely to indulge in the “bad stuff” that doesn’t support your health goals if you have to document it.
Stay hydrated. Sometimes hunger pains are actually your body crying out for water.
Take a class! I teach one called The RESTART Program® and it’s giving people amazing results. These are a few tips to get you started, if you need more support I’m here to support you — it’s what I do!
#sugardetox #sugaraddiction #realfood #wholefood #healthcoach #visiongoalsaccountability #NTP #kickSugar
Our 6 Tastes: Our guide map to optimal nutrition. Retrieved from: http://www.eattasteheal.com/ETH_6tastes.htm
Harmful Effects of Excess Sugar. Retrieved from:
Sugar: A Health Threat More Pervasive than Cigarettes and Alcohol. Retrieved from:
Khalsa, Karta Purkh Singh. (March 2018.) How to Stop Eating Sugar: Curb those sweet cravings with Key Herbs and Spices. Herbal Remedies Magazine. #120.
Mercola, J. (2016). Why Cutting Down on Sugar Might Be the Best Health Insurance Available. Retrieved from: https://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2016/04/23/cut-down-sugar-consumption.aspx
Spector, D. (2014.) An Evolutionary Explanation For Why We Crave Sugar. Retrieved from: http://www.businessinsider.com/evolutionary-reason-we-love-sugar-2014-4
Tanner, C. Starvation mode’ DOES exist: Brain cells can prevent us burning fat when we restrict calories. (May 2017). Retrieved from: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-4533692/Starvation-mode-DOES-exist-Brain-stops-burning-fat.html#ixzz58u11uwVB