Managing or handling sugar cravings can be just as stressful as the thought of “quitting” sugar all together. Here’s a look at what’s been working for me during this sugar-crazed time of year!
Good one, right? Handling sugar cravings a few days after Halloween… YIKES! Lofty goals here my friends lol. Sugar cravings are something I’ve been exploring within [or I guess for?] myself because guess what guys?! SUGAR IS MY KRYPTONITE!
Way back when I was struggling with the sugar highs and lows that come along with alcohol consumption (yes, alcohol breaks down the same way other carbohydrates do), I would often end my evenings with one or two bowls of ice cream, Chocolate Chex cereal, and possibly a few Snickers, Twix, and Resees mixed in vs. alcohol. My body just wanted the familiar: SUGAR. And instead of sugar from alcohol, I was or have been snacking on other sugary treats and sweets.
Fast forward to today and I know that what’s happening in my body is a result of MANY things: I’m stressed. I’m tired. I’m not eating well. Oh, and guess what? My basement is hiding stashes of candy from a 2-week long Halloween extravaganza.
SO, HOW AM I GETTING BACK ON TRACK?!
Here’s a little blood sugar 101: After you eat carbohydrates [found in almost everything we eat], your body breaks down carbohydrates called into a sugar called glucose. Glucose is the body’s main source of energy. It’s also called blood sugar. Blood sugar goes up after you eat. When glucose enters the bloodstream, the pancreas responds by making insulin. Then insulin allows glucose to enter the body’s cells to give them energy.
OK. Keep that in mind as I go on to talk about my oh-so-common sugar cravings…
How I’m Managing and/or Handling Sugar Cravings
Eat some fresh fruit. Yep, fruit is one of those foods that’s sweet [so yes, has natural sugars] PLUS it has fiber alongside that sweetness. Foods high in fiber [again, think fresh fruit and vegetables, whole grains, brown rice, quinoa, etc.] help regulate the blood sugar and insulin dance, causing our blood sugar levels to stay more balanced. Alas, not causing those highs and lows. My favorite higher-in-fiber fruits include apples, strawberries, pears, more apples, apples, and more apples. Hey, when 3 out of my 4 want an apple before bed, you better believe my fridge is STOCKED.
Move a muscle. Change a thought. I learned this little trick in recovery [and pretty much remind myself of this every day]. When my mind is focused on another resees peanut butter cup or hey, a handful of gummy bears, I move a muscle, occupy my mind with another “to-do,” and guess what? Sometimes that urge for another piece of candy subsides. Physical activity can lower your blood glucose up to 24 hours or more after your workout by making your body more sensitive to insulin. Simply put: regular exercise helps our body’s glucose and insulin cycle work more efficiently. Oh and regular exercise for me these days has been 10 mins on a spin bike in my basement, a 2 mile walk with my Mom and/or another girlfriend, and the multiple trips I take from my basement to the upstairs when it’s time to put laundry away… it doesn’t have to be training for a marathon folks. Just try to do a little each day [I’m talking to myself here].
Start your day, interrupt your day, and end your day with PROTEIN. Yep, you know in my former work I was the beef lady, and always touting the importance of protein throughout your day. Why? Protein takes longer for our bodies to digest, slowing down the absorption of glucose into our bloodstream, helping our blood sugar levels stay stable. Phew! Did you get all of that? Just take baby steps with me folks, and try to get more protein into your meals- not just at dinner! For me, that’s looked like eating Greek yogurt for breakfast. Yep, one small change has made a difference. In fact, now I look forward to waking up and having my yogurt. Next up I’ll be adding in some oats or cereal for that fiber combo…. I’m not there just yet. But I’m getting there! [Interested in a cheat-sheet about getting more protein in your meals or throughout your day? Text, message, email, or comment below!].
Drink more water. I’m not going to tell you how much. Google it [lol- sorry, bad joke]. All I know is I do NOT drink enough water. I WANT to drink more water. And I’m typing this out to stay more accountable. Chances are you usually see me out and about with coffee or a Diet Coke. HOLD MY HAND WHEN I SAY THIS- yesterday, I didn’t have any Diet Coke. And I’m hoping today I’m holding strong at day 2. Now I’m not saying you need to eliminate sugar-sweetened beverages, I’m just saying I drink way too much Diet Coke. And coffee. And not enough water. Our bodies get rid of excess sugar with the help of water and our kidneys- so keep on keeping on with the H2O!
Point a finger at STRESS and know you are NOT alone. Ok this one isn’t really a tip, it’s just an acknowledgement that YOU ARE ABSOLUTELY NORMAL AND PERFECT and sugar cravings that happen as a result of stress is actually your body doing what it’s supposed to do: give you an extra boost or an energy rush from a sugar source. In periods of stress, the body produces a molecule (cortisol) that can cause sugar cravings. It’s logical, because the body believes it needs an energy rush for combat or flight. In this case, I’d probably eat the mini-Twix and drink it with a half glass of milk. A little protein can help offset the sugar “rush” in our bloodstreams and hopefully combat that fight or flight mode.
I guess you could say I don’t have the whole sugar craving thing figured out. But knowing what’s happening in my body is just the first step making change- and considering I’ve had a friend or two ask me this week about my candy consumption, chances are you’re right here with me too.
Please stay tuned, as we might be heading into a chapter of Mom to Mom Nutrition where guess what? WE FOCUS ON MOM. Her sugar cravings, her stress, lack of sleep, etc. etc.
If there’s something in this post that speaks to you, TELL ME. I want to be a resource for you- no matter where you’re at in your sugar journey! Clearly, I’m still fighting with my candy stash…