How To Stop Those Sugar Cravings!


snacking

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

The Top Ten Food Lies That Keep Us Overweight – Part Two

The Next Five Food Lies:  Part Two

In the last blog, I exposed the First Five Food Lies:

1.  All calories are created equal.

2.  All you need is willpower.

3.  Diet soda is better than regular soda.

4.  Low-fat foods are good for you.

5.  Whole grain foods are good for you.

 

Now let’s take a look at five more food lies that keep us overweight:

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6.  Eggs are Unhealthy For You – FALSE!  Eggs are just one of those foods that seems to be surrounded with controversy.  A lot of the debate has to do with the large amount of cholesterol in eggs.  According to Dr. Jon Berardi, founder of Precision Nutrition, research consistently shows that the cholesterol you eat has very little impact on how much cholesterol is in your blood.  (There’s only one possible exception here: diabetics and the 0.2 percent of the population with familial hypercholesterolemia. More research has to be done to confirm this.)  In fact, in controlled trials, when people were instructed to eat 3 whole eggs per day, they LOST weight, experienced decreased inflammation, and either maintained or improved their blood cholesterol levels.

Bottom line: Unless you have diabetes or a rare genetic disorder, eating a few eggs every day is not bad for you. In fact, egg yolks are one of the most nutrient-dense, antioxidant-rich and vitamin-laden foods on the planet!

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7.  It’s All About Genetics – FALSE!  While it is true that there are genes associated with obesity, only 9% of overweight and obese people have the genetic or hormonal defect that predispose them to being heavy.  It is more likely that your weight is directly related to the habits of the environment you were raised in.  Even if you don’t eat exactly the way your parents do, it was within your home that you learned how to cook (or if you cook), what to eat, and how much to eat.  Plus, although our genes only change 2% every 20,000 years, by the year 2050, it is estimated that over 50 % of Americans will be obese (up from the current 35%).   What has changed over the last century has not been our genes, but our eating habits.  We have gone from eating about 10 pounds of sugar per person per day in 1800, to currently eating about 152 pounds of sugar per person per day!

Bottom line:  Obesity is caused by all kinds of factors, but genetics is the least of them.  The good news is that you can change this!

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8.  Milk Is Nature’s Perfect Food – FALSE!  This one was a tough one for me to get my head around.  I was raised to think that dairy was an ideal source of calcium and protein.  But there are several reasons why this isn’t the case.  Many people have adverse reactions to milk – inflammation, allergies, sinus congestion, intestinal issues, and asthma.  Milk also spikes insulin, which encourages abdominal fat.  According to Dr. Mark Hyman, author of “The 10-Day Detox Diet,” it may increase the risk of bone fractures and osteoporosis, and even increase the risk of types 1 and 2 diabetes. If that’s not enough, think about it this way; in nature, milk is provided at times when you want to experience exponential levels of growth (infancy).  Soooo, if you’d like to grow at an exponential rate, drink lots of milk!

Bottom line:  Milk doesn’t always do a body good.  Get your calcium from green leafy vegetables instead!

Do low carb diets really workWeb

9.  Low-Carb Diets Are Bad For You – FALSE  First, let’s define a low-carb diet:  a diet that restricts the type and amount of carbohydrates you eat, typically a daily limit of 60 to 130 grams (or 240-520 calories per day).  The idea behind the low-carb diet is that decreasing carbs lowers your insulin levels, which causes the body to burn stored fat for energy which ultimately leads to weight loss. Here’s my take on it;  most overweight people don’t realize that they are actually on extremely HIGH-carbohydrate diets, and all research indicates that high-carb diets are not good for you.   When you substitute vegetables for the white flour and sugar (the bulk of carbs in the standard American diet), you will dramatically reduce your caloric intake and increase your vitamins and nutrients.  Don’t forget that vegetables and fruit are carbohydrates, too.  But back to the question – are low carb diets dangerous?  No.  Studies show that low-carb diets may help prevent metabolic syndrome, diabetes, high blood sugar, and cardiovascular disease, according to the Mayo Clinic.

Bottom line:  A low-carbohydrate diet is a highly effective, healthy way to lose weight and reverse metabolic disease.

eating frequently

10.  You Should Eat Frequent, Small Meals Throughout The Day – FALSE!  At first glance, this one appears to make sense.  The idea is that by eating frequently, you speed up your metabolism all day, and therefore improve your ability to burn more calories, right?  This idea has been put to the test and refuted multiple times; there is no significant difference whatsoever in terms of “speeding up your metabolism.”  As long as your total daily calorie and nutrient intake remains what it needs to be, the manner in which you consume those calories/nutrients just doesn’t matter. Plus, it’s impractical to be eating constantly.   According to Jillian Michaels, celebrity master trainer on “The Biggest Loser,” by grazing around the clock, you’re preventing your body from burning fat, and causing yourself to lose track of the calories you’ve consumed!   Jillian recommends eating every four hours to stabilize your blood sugar, optimize insulin production and manage hunger.

Bottom line:  For weight loss, keep it simple; eat three balanced meals, plus a snack between lunch and dinner.