It is the season of love (in fact, the year of love for me) and all the chocolate and candy and wine that go with it! These occasional indulgences can help make us feel special and create a delicious way to celebrate. But in actuality, we women all too regularly consume an average of 22 teaspoons of added sugar each day in spite of the recommendations of the American Heart Association that we consume no more than 6 teaspoons. Clearly, we have gone beyond the occasional indulgence and into obsession territory.
For many years, scientists and doctors have often overlooked the role that sugar has played in contributing to chronic disease. In his recent book, “The Case Against Sugar,” investigative journalist Gary Taubes outlines a trial-like case against sugar almost proving without a doubt that too much sugar messes with our metabolism and makes insulin less efficient which in turn makes us fat, diabetic, and prone to heart disease, gout, and even cancer.
For women, excess sugar has been associated with hormonal imbalances that cause intense cravings and mood swings right around your period and heightened PMS and menopause symptoms. Sugar creates spikes in insulin leading to disrupted production of progesterone and estrogen. Excess sugar in the bloodstream gets stored as glycogen in the liver but when there is a surplus, it turns into belly fat. Some of us may be more “sugar-sensitive” than others but either way, it is addictive and can come with nasty withdrawal symptoms.
You’d be surprised at how many unexpected foods contain sugar like spaghetti sauce, low-fat salad dressing and peanut butter. In fact, a recent study found that over 60%(!) of packaged foods on your grocery store shelves have added sugar! Sugar can hide behind names like “juice sweetener” and “dextrose” and “rice syrup.” And don’t be fooled by natural sweeteners. Honey, maple syrup and molasses may have some added nutrient value and be absorbed more slowly than the white stuff, but to your body… sugar is sugar.
How to Reduce Sugar Cravings
Sugar is best to be weaned from rather than quit cold turkey to avoid headaches, mood swings, nausea and shakiness. A few other tips can help you when the going gets tough.
1. Consume adequate amounts of protein, especially at breakfast.
Protein is essential for pulling sugar into your cells to create energy and maintaining consistent blood sugar levels. Enjoy wild-caught fish, chicken, beef, nuts, and seeds with every meal and snack. In addition, grass-fed beef includes iron, B vitamins and zinc which are all critical nutrients to maintaining energy and stamina and reduced need for a quick sugar fix.
2. Get enough sleep,
Studies have shown sleep deprivation increases food cravings and diminishes our ability to inhibit our food behavior. Getting 7 to 9 hours of sleep each night is ideal as even one night of poor sleep can increase sugar demand.
3. Fill your life with other sweet pleasures.
From lighting a candle to taking a short nap to indulging in a massage… you can fill your life with non-sugar pleasures that help give you a treat without the negative health benefits. Feel the gratitude for the sweetness life has given you.
• Cole, Will, MD. “The Ultimate Guide To Crush Your Food Cravings,” retrieved from: https://drwillcole.com/ultimate-guide-crush-food-cravings/.
• Empowered Sustenance, “10 Ways to Balance Blood Sugar Naturally,” retrieved from: http://empoweredsustenance.com/balance-blood-sugar-naturally/