BALANCING BLOOD SUGAR: How to Control Sugar Cravings

Photo by Luis Aguila on Unsplash


 
This is the third in a series of posts related to sugar & sugar consumption. (First post, second post here.) As someone who spent 30-years binge-eating and struggling with the white powder, I know that of which I speak. I also have a diploma in Holistic Nutrition*


 
How do you control SUGAR CRAVINGS?

It's actually really, really simple. (It might not be easy, but it is simple.)

You control sugar cravings by STABILIZING YOUR BLOOD SUGAR. 

Sugar cravings are the body's way of reaching for energy; the more out of whack your blood-sugar levels are, the more intense the sweet cravings as the body tried to bring up those levels.

I spent a lifetime dealing with sugar cravings, not realizing that the way I was eating was causing those cravings; I ate a diet that was very high in carbohydrates (refined, simple carbs), low in protein, and low in fat.

Basically, I ate the Standard American Diet - aka SAD.

My typical days used to look like this:

Breakfast: Cereal with milk
Mid-Morning Snack: Granola bar
Lunch: Sandwich with a few slices of deli Turkey, with an Apple or sliced Cucumber if I was trying to be healthy, Cookies if I wasn't
Mid-Afternoon Snack: Chocolate, muffin, or scone
Pre-Dinner Snack: Pretzels or chips
Dinner: Cheese tortellini with tomato sauce
Dessert: Chocolate or cookies

Photo by Francesca Cuccu on Unsplash

That used to be a typical day for me; very high in refined carbohydrates, low in protein, and low in fat. That meant I was constantly hungry and tired, as I rode the blood-sugar rollercoaster up-and-down all day.

I don't think the above example is very different from the way a lot of people eat. (Hence the "Standard" part of SAD.)

(CONFIRMATION TANGENT: A few years ago I worked in an office where, every morning, I watched this couple eat Pop-Tarts for BREAKFAST. Sometimes she would switch things up with a Toaster Strudel, and I would watch in horror as she put the warm pastry on a plate and covered it with icing. For BREAKFAST. They were both in their 30's. Not surprisingly, they were both sickly-looking, with pale waxy skin.)

If you often find yourself with uncontrollable sugar cravings, or feel weak and shaky between meals to the point where you must eat immediately – a.k.a. HANGER – it's likely due to HYPOGLYCEMIA – a sudden drop in blood sugar – and it occurs when the level of glucose in your blood drops below whatever is healthy for you.

It’s often triggered by eating meals or snacks that contain mostly simple carbs. 

White things or food made with white things are often a good indicator of simple carbs: flour, sugar, rice, potatoes, etc. (See my typical day menu above.)

Photo by Super Snapper on Unsplash

The high dose of easy-access sugar in these refined – and therefore easy to absorb – carbohydrates hits your system and spikes your blood glucose super high, and then causes it to plummet back down – a.k.a. HYPOGLYCEMIA or HANGER.

This oscillation between high and low blood sugar is a rollercoaster that can leave you feeling tired and lethargic, and also cause intense sugar and carb cravings as your body attempts to re-balance energy levels.

Let’s be clear that I’m not demonizing carbohydrates – carbs are awesome! – but if the balance of your meals is off – meaning you’re eating way more carbohydrates than you are proteins and healthy fats – you’re very likely to experience HANGER issues.

In order to balance your blood-sugar, you need to do the following three things:

1 - YOU NEED TO EAT ENOUGH PROTEIN AND HEALTHY FATS WITH YOUR MEALS; AVOID EATING SIMPLE CARBS ON THEIR OWN.

Protein is satiating, and so is fat. Both of these macronutrients also blunt the insulin response of the carbohydrates you’re eating with your meal. Meaning if you eat cake after a meal, it won’t affect your blood-sugar levels the same way as if you eat cake on an empty stomach. Protein and healthy fats decrease the effect that sugar has on your body, so it's best to never eat sugar on an empty stomach.

2 - YOU NEED TO EAT ENOUGH (VOLUME & CALORIES)

If your portions aren’t big enough at mealtimes, then you absolutely will find yourself craving sweets. (Remember, the body is looking for energy, and if you didn't give it enough energy, it will look for the quickest, fastest energy source: SUGAR.)

You need to eat enough food at meals in order to feel satiated.

But you also need to ensure that your meals are calorie-dense enough to be satiating. If, for example, you eat a bowl of mostly broth-based soup for lunch, you might feel full for a while. After all, your stomach was filled with warm liquid, and this feeling of fullness provides satiety.

But the thing is, your body – in its infinite evolutionary wisdom – recognizes the calorie-content in the food you eat, so if that bowl of soup (or the salad, etc.) was very low in calories, then within one-to-two hours after eating, you’ll find yourself hungry again.

3 - YOU NEED TO HAVE REGULAR MEALTIMES

Having an unbalanced food intake (e.g. eating at sporadic intervals, or not eating enough and then eating large amounts in one sitting) can cause both blood-sugar imbalances and digestive problems. Eating regularly helps prevent the blood-sugar imbalances which cause your hanger that often leads to eating too fast and eating too much (which then causes indigestion and fatigue.)

BOTTOM LINE: In order to balance your blood-sugar levels and stop craving sweets, you need to eat enough protein-rich foods with healthy fats at regular intervals.

That doesn't mean you don't get to eat cake; you just need to eat these things first.

Photo by Nerfee Mirandilla on Unsplash



*Although I have a diploma in Holistic Nutrition with a specialization in Sports Fitness Nutrition, I'm not a doctor. Always seek the advice of your physician before undertaking a new health care regimen. I only offer information of a general nature to help you in your quest for better health. In the event you use any of this information for yourself, I do not assume responsibility for your actions.




For more on how to give yourself complete and total permission to eat anything you want, click ⭐ here ⭐ to get my guide on how to Quit Binge Eating — yours FREE with subscription to my site.

If you want to know more about improving your blood-sugar balance and optimizing your digestion⭐ here ⭐ is my guide on Beating the Bloat. 



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