Unraveling the truth about sugar cravings

Unraveling the truth about sugar cravings

 

It is 4pm, the afternoon slump, and the body can’t hold up. A caramel latte and some cookies sound like the perfect ‘pick me up’.  But, WHY DO WE HAVE SUGAR CRAVINGS? Often times when the body is having cravings, it is not necessarily that it wants sugar. Cravings are an indication that the body is lacking some nutrients but it could also be due to emotional reasons. The unbalanced diet of high calorie, high processed, low nutrient-dense foods and lack of physical activity, creates hormonal and blood sugar fluctuations, which leave us feeling deprived.

 

For instance, sugar cravings may be an indication of deficiency of the following:

Chromium which regulates blood sugar and cholesterol levels. Eat more broccoli, barley, green beans, oats, grapes, sweet potatoes, dried beans.  Magnesium, very important for cellular activity, found in dark leafy greens, raw cacao, nuts and seeds (especially pumpkin seeds), brown rice, quinoa. Zinc is needed so that the body can use insulin and glucose more efficiently. Foods include whole grains, pumpkin seeds, Brazil nuts, pastured eggs, oysters, cocoa and chocolate.  

  

Welcome to Sugarholic Anonymous

There is a little secret to sugar cravings… sugar is highly addictive.  Sugar causes the pleasure and reward hormone dopamine to be released in the brain, but it quickly plummets leaving you wanting some more. Innevitably, we develop a connection of sweets with the rise of pleasure that make us associate sweets with comfort.  This activation in the brain is reminiscent of addictions like cocaine, alcohol and cigarettes.  Other foods also cause dopamine release, but not as much as sugar does.  For instance veggies like broccoli don’t cause that same release of dopamine, so we will never find someone addicted to it. Processed sugar is the most addicting legal drug.  How is it an addictive substance? Hear me out, sugar is addictive for two good reasons other drugs (illegal or prescribed) fall under this category:

  • Even consuming a small amount makes you want more.

  • Quitting sugar gives you the same withdrawal symptoms other addictions do (headaches, fatigue, mood swings, more cravings)

Do these sound familiar? yup, sadly to say that we all have become addicts at some point. Studies have also found that overdosing on sugar makes the person develop a high tolerance to sugar, meaning that there is never enough.  It is a never-ending cycle.

 

 

It is time to break off this deadly cycle and instead, create a connection with the body to pay attention to its needs.

Eating a balanced meal helps getting all the nutrients and reduces the risk of sugar cravings.

 

  • Have a nutrient dense breakfast.  Have a good plate with protein and healthy oils,which will help the body keep satiated.  Some eggs and avocado are my first choice, along with veggies.  On days that I am on the go, I add 1 TBSP of coconut oil into my veggie smoothie, oatmeal, or warm almond milk latte.

  • Clean out your pantry and get rid of all sinner temptations. This is a basic rule when trying to change an eating habit. Get rid of the trigger. How can you say no to unhealthy snacks if you have them in front of you at all times?  

  • When feeling that afternoon slump, don’t find a quick energy boost by eating unhealthy snacks. Have protein rich snacks such as nuts, seeds, avocados, nut butters with celery sticks, carrots with hummus.

  • Have a healthy NO ADDED SUGAR ​smoothie as a snack.  My trick is to add cucumber that adds more volume to the smoothie (and alkaline). Limit your smoothies to one or two fruits and load up with veggies (spinach, kale, celery).  Try this recipe.

  • Exercise will help release stress, boost your energy, releases endorphins that make you feel great, needless to say, it will distract you from temptation.  Don’t worry, you don’t have to go an buy a workout outfit for the gym if you don’t want to, a walk around the block or even dancing will do.

  • Pamper those adrenals glands with B-vitamins – Stress is one of the main causes for cravings, especially sugary stuff, and the adrenal glands take care of the stress response. Taking Vitamin B-complex will help the adrenals function properly.  Foods high in Vit-B include: nuts, eggs, milk, fish, meats, whole grains, leafy greens, fruits.

  • Drink a cup of herbal tea, lemonade + fruit minus the sugar or a glassful of water. Sometimes we confuse a craving (or hunger) with the need to hydrate ourselves.  Tip: add some lemon and cucumber to plain water to freshen up your mouth.

  • Tease the brain and brush your teeth.  The clean and freshness in the mouth send the message to the brain that no more food is allowed.  Word of caution, some toothpaste products might also contain sugar additives, so read the labels.

  • If you must have sweets, opt for dark chocolate at least 70% cacao or higher, the more cacao the more antioxidants.  Savor it slowly. Or… have a piece of fruit. Of course fruits are a better option than processed sugary goods.  Fruits have the fiber and nutrients that we need but moderation is the key. 

  • Experiment with spices – like cinnamon, cardamom, cloves, anise and even ginger. Specially cinnamon, it normalizes your blood levels, so taking even 1/4 teaspoon daily can help reduce insulin spikes and control LDL cholesterol, which cuts down on your needs.

  • Get enough sleep – depriving your body from a good rest will create appetite hormone imbalance, thus making you have cravings like crazy.  Also, lack of sleep leaves the body with low energy and what do you do to wake up and keep going for the day? You grab quickly absorbed sugars (sodas or candy).

  • Change your mind about sugar as a reward or comfort food. Instead, FEEL THE EMOTION. Identify the emotional or physical factors that trigger the cravings.  Once you know what is behind the impulse to dive into the cookie jar, you can make better choices as to how to attend your feelings. A food journal helps.  This is important because we are used to see dessert and sweets as comforting, but we need to break of that habit and not use food as a comfort tool to get by each day. 

  • Instead of indulging in chocolate cake or ice cream when feeling down or as a reward, LOVE YOURSELF a little differently by investing in a massage session, buying flowers, getting a mani-pedi. My favorite: to light up some candles, pour yourself a glass or cucumber-lemon water and immerse in a calming lavender salt bath. Don’t roll your eyes at me, just try it! It is ALL ABOUT THE REWARDING EXPERIENCE.

 

NOW YOU GOT THAT SACK OF SUGAR FROM THE WHOLESALE STORE, AND YOU DON’T KNOW WHAT TO DO WITH IT??... click here for cool beauty tips and more!!

 

Blueberry smoothie

Blueberry smoothie

Blueberry Swirl

5 minutes

 

Summer is here and for many people is SMOOTHIE time! But did you know that many establishments use fruit juice, HFCS and added sugars in many of their mixes??? If you choose to go to a place like this, ask for the ingredients and see if they can make you one without added sugar.  

 

Instead, my juice bar is in my own kitchen, and it could be yours too. I usually add one or two vegetables and not more than two fruit ingredients.

 

In this delicious smoothie, healthy fat, fiber, and protein keeps blood sugar steady by slows down the digestion and absorption of sugar.  You will feel energized, satiated and kicking the sugar craving off to the curb.  Not only that but the antioxidant properties of ginger, antioxidants from the blueberries and alkalinity from the lemon and cucumber.  

 

Ingredients    ?

  • 1 cup frozen blueberries

  • 1 inch piece of ginger

  • 1/2 cup fresh spinach

  • 4 inches of cucumber

  • 1/2 cup coconut (if fresh, also use the water)

  • 1 tbsp chia seeds

  • 1 tbsp almonds (or almond butter)

  • a little lemon juice

  • handful of ice

  • 1 tbsp bee pollen (optional)

  

Put all in a high speed blender and enjoy!!

The truth about sugar… it is NOT a sweet story

The truth about sugar… it is NOT a sweet story

Because sugar is a sticky subject we are going to give it the attention it deserves and have more than one blog to uncover the delicious yet dangerous truth about sugar.

As I am sitting at a cafe brainstorming about what to blog about next, I can’t help but pay attention to the amount of syrup that goes into a blended frappuccino or a flavored latte. I used to love the blended caramel frappuccino minus the whipped cream, thinking I was being somewhat conscious of bad calories, until I learned there are 41 grams of sugar in a 12oz drink regardless of the type of milk. I could not believe it, 41 grams equals a ⅓ of a cup of sugar, which is equivalent to 3 donuts!  What is most alarming is that sugar is not always as obvious as in a sugary drink or a candy bar; it is hidden in many food products available on most shelves at the supermarket. Evidently, it is difficult to avoid it. Not surprising the average American can easily consume an estimated 130 pounds of sugar per year and do not know about it. It is this excess and processed sugar that will tax your health and your wallet.  New research from some of America’s respected institutions are finding that sugar is a toxin and might be a driving force of the leading killers, including heart disease, cancer and other chronic diseases. Medical and research experts are also making a connection between sugar and Alzheimer, calling it ‘Type 3 Diabetes’ because of the insulin resistance in the brain.   

High demand of sugar consumption + a sedentary lifestyle contribute to an epidemic that has plunged America into a public crisis.  

Meet DIABESITY (diabetes + obesity)

To understand this better, let’s get back to the basics and learn what sugar is and what it does to our bodies.  Later we’ll dig into crazy cravings that seem to turn the wheels in our lives.  So put on your studious hat and reading glasses and let’s dive into the secrets of this devil in disguise.

You might think ‘Wait a minute, but sugar is not that bad! I don’t even eat that much sugar?’  Well, not all sugar is the same and it goes beyond the Snickers bar and Oreo cookies you are hiding in the earthquake emergency kit.  

As you can see, sugar is also found in foods that are not necessarily sweet and even though fruits are classified as simple sugars, their fiber content makes them a little better as long as consumed in moderation.  Needless to say the fiber will help with cleaning out the digestive pipes.

Ok, so now a little Glucose 101 lesson:

 

Briefly, when we eat carbohydrates including sugar, they are broken down into glucose, the sugar your body needs to use for fuel.  Maintaining blood sugar is controlled by the hormonal system and the superstar is Insulin.  Insulin acts as little FEDEX guys delivering glucose to every cell in your body. Any extra glucose (blood sugar) is stored in the liver as fat for later use if needed.  However, the problem is when there is excess consumption of sugar that equals truckloads of glucose. There is overproduction of insulin by the pancreas and the liver gets overloaded with stored glucose as fat (LDL) that can go into the bloodstream and eventually taken to your tissues. That is when health problems arise.  Copious amount of insulin results in insulin resistance that will make the body less effective at regulating sugar. Also, the extra insulin circulating in the body results in a deficiency of using stored fat for energy – because there is a continuous glucose production (from excessive eating) that is immediately used as energy.  What this means is that it’s pretty darn difficult to loose weight.

Tip to loose waist size: if stopping eating donuts for breakfast doesn’t work; try to visualize what happens at the cellular level. Imagine the strain on your pancreas and liver, the heroes to maintain order in your health department, and remember, they will go on a strike. Do you really want to drive this pandemonium in your body? Commit to greatly reduce glucose and insulin production.

Are you with me so far? … Good!.

So you see, it is processed sugar and excessive consumption when problems arise and tax your health.  The key word here is EXCESSIVE.  The daily recommended sugar intake is no more than 9 teaspoons (one can of soda), but the average American consumes roughly 22 teaspoons (1/3 of a pound) for adults and 32 teaspoons for children. The alarming news is that this ‘sweet addiction’ can potentially lead to 1 in 4 kids to develop diabetes.  Sad, I know.  The little sugar granules, fairy dust that makes everything taste better, our first love when we were kids, what a traitor!  Unfortunately it was from a very young age when we learned to love sweets, to associate them with comfort and rewards.  We learned to have a candy bar as a snack instead of a fruit.  We drink sodas to quench the thirst but unknowingly we are changing the composition of our body to that of imbalance and sickness.  It goes beyond than getting cavities from sugar. Sugar is acidic, thus firing up inflammation because excess insulin switches the immune response into high alert.  

 

Here are some facts to keep in mind about sugar in the body:

 

?  It compromises the immune system contributing to candida growth, yeast infections, diabetes, obesity, heart problems. 

 

?  It affects adrenal function and hormone production, which is the driving force of the majority of the body physiological processes.

 

?  Excess sugar (glucose) feeds cancer and tumor cells causing them to thrive while healthy cells might be deprived of glucose.

 

?  Processed sugar inhibits mineral absorption, in fact it robs minerals and depletes the body of magnesium, which is required for proper functioning of every single cell in the human body and essential for calcium absorption.

 

?  The body is not designed to metabolize processed sugar, so the major organs Iiver, pancreas, spleen) have to work really hard to get rid of it.  

 

?  It affects the nervous system specially because artificial sweeteners are nerve toxins.

 

?  Sugar binds to proteins and fats in the body during digestion to create free radicals that reduce collagen and elastin in the skin, ultimately causing wrinkles and loss of skin elasticity.

 

?  One or two sugary drinks a day increases the risk of Type 2 diabetes by 25%.

 

?  Half of men with diabetes will experience erectile dysfunction.

 

?  Overall, it causes unnecessary expenses in health care because many of this health conditions could be prevented and controlled with education and a change of lifestyle. 

 

 

We live in a world full of choices, but it is necessary to make smart decisions to REDUCE THE OVERALL SUGAR INTAKE.  

 

Limiting its consumption will benefit our heath and our pockets tremendously.  

 

Don’t freak out thinking that you are giving up your weekly dose of cookies and cream ice cream (I am being generous, we know sometimes its daily).  I am not asking or telling you to completely avoid all sugars which is almost impossible and unrealistic.  If sweets or carbs are still a reward after a long day at work, make it so that it is more meaningful by having it one day of the week instead of 5.  Try to have rewarding experiences rather than a quick fix making out with some champagne-frosting vanilla cupcakes (ohh, but they are so good!).  Or try out this little treat to keep you busy nibbling while waiting for the next sugar blog.  Natural sweetness from mango and good fat from the coconut. 

 

Even though this is a caricature, this is real for too many people.  Let’s be PREVENTATIVE and not wait until it is too late.   

Tip for the week to stir you away from the cookie jar during a stressful night: light up some candles, pour yourself a glass or cucumber-lemon water and immerse in a fabulous ginger-lavender bath. 

Don’t roll your eyes at me, just try it!