Sugar cravingsBy Linda Ericson // Personal Trainer and Operations Manager at RCSN Fitness January 2018
The crave for sugar is just one of several confusing urges we sometimes need to deal with. For example, included in this category is also the desire for salt and no matter what the actual craving is, our body expresses it more or less in the same way. When our body is feeling like it’s missing something it communicates this through feelings of hunger, but the message as well as the solution is far from all times crystal clear. Strikingly often we are obsessing about and longing for something that we would actually be better off without, and especially in the case with sugar.
Sugar is a fast carbohydrate and offers not only a sudden energy boost but also a feeling of general satisfaction. When consuming sugar the level of serotonin rises. This is a neurotransmitter that regulates our wellbeing. One could therefore say that we are “peaking” while adding sugar to our system. Unfortunately, these feelings of contentment are extremely short-lived and are quickly replaced by the next, equally demanding, craving for something sweet. The circle is thereby complete. Researchers agree upon the fact that due to this triggering of neurotransmitters it is possible to become physically addicted to sugar. Some of us chooses another path instead, and one is through energy drinks and caffeine in different shapes and forms when the urge kicks in, but this is also just a way to temporarily treat the symptoms.
There are several ways you could avoid daily blood sugar dips including your choices of food as well as your behavior.
1 - Increase your serotonin in a healthy way
High levels of serotonin can be achieved through different methods other than just consumption of fast carbohydrates. Physical activity, a healthy diet, and enough qualitative sleep is a guarantee for stable serotonin levels, and therefore also a guarantee for even blood sugar. Please note that we are talking about stable levels and not this shocking, temporarily rise you experience while binging on foods high in sugar.
2 - Avoid stress in everyday life
Stress has been proved to trigger sugar cravings. It has a negative impact on our sleep and longer periods of insufficient sleep may very well interfere with our hormonal balance. As a consequence of all of this we find ourselves with an increased desire for high calorie and sugary foods, simply to access quick energy.
3 - A teaspoon of cinnamon a day
If you feel your sugar levels dropping during the afternoon you can add a teaspoon of cinnamon to your coffee. This is not sweet but studies have found that cinnamon, thanks to its polyphenols, has blood sugar regulating effects and also positively affects the insulin sensitivity. If you’re not a big coffee drinker you can try sprinkling some cinnamon over your oatmeal or yogurt.
4 - Use vanilla in different forms
Vanilla extract may be more expensive than cinnamon, but it is worth every penny. A few drops of this liquid adds some extra sweetness to food and beverages, which calms the craving for sugar. Even the mere smell of vanilla has been shown to effectively reduce these misguided feelings of hunger. An alternative to adding vanilla to your food or drink could therefore be a couple of vanilla scented candles or spraying a vanilla fragranced room perfume in your home.
5 - Eat more foods rich in chromium
Chromium is necessary for regulating glucose (blood sugar) and also improves insulin sensitivity. Disruptions in the uptake and production of the hormone insulin can in the worst case lead to diabetes. In addition, chromium controls the cholesterol levels in the blood. If you are lacking chromium this is probably shown through a strong desire for sweets. Foods containing high levels of chromium are for example sweet potato, beans, eggs, broccoli, meat, seafood, and nuts. A well-balanced diet should therefore do the trick.
It is important that we know what sugar does to our body. By excluding what some people would call “poison”, we will find ourselves having more energy, not to mention even energy levels throughout the day. When we regularly add sugar to our bodies we are weakening its own ability to manage and maintain energy at a normal and stable level. Believe it or not, but after a period without sugar even your favorite chocolate will seem sweeter than necessary and a fruit with its natural sugar content will be an enjoyable and, unlike candy, healthy substitute. Being exhausted in the afternoon will soon be no more than just a memory!
Getting yourself in shape is not done overnight. It takes perseverance, dedication and time - just how much time depends on you and your habits. You might be aiming to improve your physical shape a little faster than normal if you have an event coming up or you can feel the summer just around the corner. Like with almost everything in life, if it’s worth doing, it’s worth doing properly. No half measures, no short cuts, no extreme fad diets and no four-hour gym sessions. If you want to get in shape fast and stay fit over the long-term, it’s worth forming the correct habits now, so you can take a new recipe for fitness forward with you.
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