Do you ever crave sugar, even when you’ve just finished eating?
Do you start foraging the cabinets for just a little something to satisfy a sweet craving, especially after dinner? Then before you even realize it, you’ve added another 200-400 calories of crap to an otherwise healthy day? If this happens to you, you are not alone! And it could be causing you a lot of undesired weight gain and unhealthy side-effects. In case you didn’t know, this is the exact method that Sumo wrestlers use to put on weight; they eat a lot of empty calories and then go to bed.
According to Dr. Mark Hyman, author of “The 10-Day Detox Diet,” it’s not a matter of having poor self-discipline. “What happens is that your hormones are out of balance.” There are a number of hormones that regulate your appetite including insulin, ghrelin, leptin, and peptide YY. If you can learn to regulate those hormones, then your appetite and cravings for sweets will diminish. These four hormone levels are all disturbed by eating sugar, flour, and processed foods. Another important hormone is cortisone, which is your stress hormone. When you’re stressed, your level of cortisol increases, which raises your blood sugar level and your appetite (for sugar in particular).
So what can you do to regulate those hormones and stop those post-meal sweet cravings, and end the night-time binges on desserts and snacks? Dr. Hyman suggests the following:
1. Have protein for breakfast. I usually eat eggs, but if you’re not a fan of eggs, try a protein shake. You can put the following in a blender, and it will satisfy you for hours: a tablespoon of hemp seeds, chia seeds, pumpkin seeds, walnuts, almond butter, and coconut butter. Then add some frozen cranberries and blueberries, topped with a little almond or hemp milk (unsweetened). Blend until smooth. If you’re not usually hungry for breakfast, I suspect that it’s because you ate a lot after dinner last night. It’s all tied together.
2. Don’t drink your calories. Avoid any sweetened drinks like soda, iced tea, sports drinks, juices, lattes, or what I call “crappucinos.” Many people don’t think of these drinks as sugar-laden, but they are, and they spike your blood sugar levels and increase your appetite. Try to avoid adding artificial sugars to everything – even Stevia. You want to stop whetting your appetite for the flavor of sugar all the time.
3. Eat at regular times. Have your breakfast, lunch, snack, and dinner at regular intervals. This will help keep your appetite and blood sugar levels regulated, and keep your body in a good biological rhythm.
4. Eat a combination of protein and healthy fat every time you eat. Have some combination of nuts, seeds, avocado, coconut oil, or olive oil, together with chicken, fish, or grass-fed beef every time you eat. Add lots of green leafy vegetables. This will go a long way towards regulating your appetite and blood sugar levels.
5. Manage your stress levels. Have you ever heard that “Stressed spelled backwards is desserts?” It’s true! When you’re anxious or stressed, your appetite increases, and you will crave sweet food. Try yoga, meditation, or exercise to help you balance your hormones again and reset your brain chemistry.
6. GO TO BED! Get a good night’s rest. If you don’t get adequate, high-quality sleep, your hormones will be out of whack. The hormone that signals hunger (ghrelin) will increase, and the hormone that signals you to feel full (PYY) goes down. So you will be hungry AND crave all the wrong things: carbs and sugar. The whole spectrum of health professionals recommend this consistently, but most people either don’t prioritize it, or vastly underestimate how much it affects their weight and health.
7. Address your food allergies. Most people don’t realize that a common sign of an allergy is that you crave the very food that you’re allergic or sensitive to. And the two most common food sensitivities are dairy and gluten. Try eliminating those two foods (dairy, flour and sugar) from your diet for a few weeks and see if your cravings stop.
8. Supplements. Fish oil, omega 3, and vitamin D3 tablets all help to regulate hormones and balance insulin levels. Dr. Hyman also recommends what he refers to as a “Super Fiber” supplement called PGX. If taken 10-15 minutes before meals and again after dinner, PGX will help to cut cravings, make you feel satisfied, and slow down insulin spiking. NOTE: You might be tempted to immediately order PGX on Amazon.com and then skip the rest of Dr. Hyman’s suggestions. However, you can’t just supplement your way out of unhealthy eating habits. To get off on to a running start, sure, this might be one way to get going. But you need to COMMIT TO YOURSELF to a healthier way of eating, not just buy your way out of it or fix it with a pill. (Takes one to know one – I myself felt like ordering a case of PGX when I heard his video).
As always, I suggest that you adopt ONE of these habits at a time, and then let me know how your night-time or after-dinner cravings go! Good luck!
Photo from FitDay.com