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The down-low on managing your sugar cravings

 

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Last week I posted about glycemic index and its impacts on energy, weight, and diabetes risk. As many of us know, however, it can be hard to stay motivated when face to face with sugar! As any tired mom will attest to, when you’re sleep-deprived anything sugary seems like a godsend, even though it will make you even more tired in the long run… Here’s the naturopathic scoop on how to manage sugar cravings and get on track towards a whole foods, low-glycemic diet.

1. Clear it out of your house: nothing kills a new commitment like a nagging box of cookies. Give away unwanted sweets and junk food so the next time you open your cupboard you are welcomed with foods you feel good about eating.

sugaraddictioncycle2. Commit to three days to start: the first 72 hours are the hardest (it’s true, they can be very difficult depending on how hooked you are on sugar), and once you get over that hump, the sugar cravings, headaches and grumpiness will finally start to dissipate – and you’ll start to feel great – trust me on this one! Many people underestimate the addictive power of sugar, and are shocked to find the withdrawal symptoms that accompany this.

3. Make a new pattern: every time you find yourself wanting to go for sugar, follow these three steps and odds are the sugar twinge will pass!

  • first: drink a glass of water
  • second: eat something low-glycemic (a carrot or handful of nuts)
  • third: if you’re still hungry, have a piece of fruit (berries or apple)

4. Get the rest you need: nothing spurs a mid-afternoon sugar-binge like not getting enough sleep the night before. Give yourself the rest you need (either an earlier bedtime, or a short nap mid-day) to avoid the temporary sugar pick-me-up. Prolonged exhaustion will stress your adrenal glands, which will make your sugar cravings even worse.

5. Eat regular meals: follow a low-glycemic diet to achieve that steady burn, as opposed to yo-yo-ing blood sugar levels that lead to increased sugar intake. Include proteins and fats in every meal. See this post for ideas for low-glycemic foods.

6. See a Naturopathic Doctor if you need further support and/or supplementation. Some of my favourites include:

  • Gymnema (Gymnema sylvestre): herbal medicine that decreases sugar cravings by blocking the taste of sugar, and helps control blood sugar levels by enhancing the effects of insulin – this can be eaten as a food or juice, or as a herbal tincture
  • Siberian Ginseng (Eleutherococcus senticosus): herbal medicine that helps the body deal with stress (it is considered an “adaptogen”) and avoid emotional overeating, as well as regulate blood sugar
  • licoricetea_terralifeLicorice root (Glycyrrhiza glabra): herbal medicine that supports adrenal function and can satisfy sugar cravings with its natural sweetness, without raising blood sugar – this makes a delicious tea!
  • Stevia (Stevia rebaudiana): herbal sugar substitute without any of the harms of sugar – it’s an acquired taste, but those who love it swear by it : )
  • Chromium picinolate: important mineral in blood glucose metabolism, which works with insulin to facilitate uptake of glucose into cells and out of the blood stream, and decreases carb cravings
  • Acupuncture: ear acupuncture has been well-studied for both addictions and weight loss, and is something I’ve enjoyed using with my patients at the Boucher Naturopathic Clinic. Needles can be inserted during visits, or patients can have ear seeds (little stickers with acu-points on them) placed in their ears that they press on when they have cravings – pretty amazing!

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