Please enjoy today’s article from Elaina Love, author of three recipe books and founder of Pure Joy Planet and Pure Joy Academy as the guest columnist every Friday in the Journey Back to Self Blog. ~ Chris
Understanding Sugar Cravings and What to Do About Them
Sugar and simple carbohydrate cravings are a real problem for many of us. Not only does sugar (in the form of processed flours, white potatoes, sugars, high fructose corn syrup, agave and even healthy sweeteners such as maple syrup, honey and dates) diminish our health, they can cause a host of emotional problems as well such as irritability and depression.
What are some reasons we crave sugars or sweet foods?
One main reason can be low adrenal function. Years of abusing our bodies through less than optimal food choices, lack of exercise, continual low-grade stress and overeating can cause our adrenals (a hormone gland that sits right above the kidneys) to continually secrete epinephrine (also known as adrenaline). This continuous reliance on our adrenals to provide us with energy and good feelings cause another form of abuse when the adrenaline is running low. We are so addicted to having and using energy during the day that we will sometimes drink caffeine and eat stimulating foods such as too much chocolate to force our adrenals to secrete even more “juice” than they would normally secrete. Sugar and caffeine both give us a temporary adrenaline hit or high followed by a sugar crash.
What can we do?
If you’ve ever tried to quit an unhealthy habit, you know that it can be a difficult road of cravings and deprivation. If this describes you, don’t feel badly, it is a normal part of our existence to want to feel good. When we get the dopamine hits (also known as the Pleasure Trap) it causes us to keep revisiting those unhealthy habits no matter how bad we know they are for us. Will Power alone is not enough; you need to support your body with the nutrients it is lacking. The first thing you can do right away is to start taking an adaptogen daily. An adaptogen is a botanically based hormone regulator. They help us to adapt to stressful environmental and physical factors. Adaptogens are a saving grace as they can help us to regulate energy by either helping us sleep better or to help us perform better in day-to-day tasks.
I take 3 Quantum Adrenal Complex capsules every morning to help balance and regulate my hormone levels. You can find many adaptogens in teas as well such as licorice, schisandra berries, Siberian ginseng, rhodiola rosea, ashwaganda, medicinal mushrooms such as Reishi, Chaga, Cordycepts, and more.
12 tips to minimize sugar and caffeine cravings:
- Avoid places you will be tempted (such as malls, the snack isle of grocery stores and shopping when you are tired or hungry). Most important: don’t bring those energy robbing foods back to your house.
- Relieve your stress by taking action on a project or make a phone call you have been avoiding.
- Daily yoga and meditation have a huge impact on relieving stress and increasing pleasure sensations. I have been using a new app on my iphone called Mediator. It times me and does little chimes to keep my mind from wandering.
- Eat foods that mimic the foods you are cravings such as a raw-vegan zucchini pasta with pesto sauce instead of the white flour and dairy-laden version.
- How about making a vegan, low glycemic pie and keeping it in your freezer to have ready when you are in the middle of a snack attack?
- Sauerkraut is full of natural probiotics and dampens the cravings for sweets. I mix it with an avocado for a hearty snack.
- Probiotic foods such as coconut kefir (see image right) or coconut yogurt (watch my youtube video):
Coconut Yogurt by Elaina Love of Pure Joy Planet
- Make a sugar free lemonade with purified water, lemon juice and zero glycemic stevia
- Drink a green juice (celery, kale, cucumber, lemon) even if it doesn’t sound good in the moment.
- Eat coconut yogurt with low glycemic raspberries (frozen or fresh)*
- Make a list of your health goals and get that out before going for food. Write down everything you eat, the pleasure factor of eating forbidden foods will decrease knowing that you will later be accountable for it on paper.
- Fast forward in your mind to one hour later… will you be happy about what you are choosing now?
Over time, as you practice discipline, being accountable, substitution and supporting your adrenals, you may find that you will get more pleasure and feel stronger by not eating sugars and simple carbohydrates. Your pancreas and your body will reward you with more sustainable energy, youthfulness and less fine lines on your face. You deserve your birth right of Pure Joy!
To your inner and outer beauty!
Chris Sopa is founder and owner of Chris Sopa International, Inc. You can learn more about her at www.ChrisSopa.com. Find her at Facebook.com/ChrisSopaInternational, Twitter @ChrisSopa, LinkedIn, and Google+.