At Free Soul we're so grateful to be surrounded by a vast network of incredible women. Each are experts in their fields, and often we're lucky enough to have them provide us (and you!) with their knowledge to help you level up your wellness from a new perspective. Marilia Chamon, registered Nutritional Therapist, Gut Health & IBS Expert, shares her tips and tricks to help you manage your sugar cravings.
We've all been there - that sudden, insatiable urge for something sweet. Whether it's a bar of chocolate after a long day or a sugary treat in the middle of the afternoon, sugar cravings can be hard to resist. But why do we get these cravings, and what can we do to manage them? Let's dive deep into the world of sugar cravings and discover ways to keep them at bay.
What Are Sugar Cravings?
Sugar cravings are those intense desires to consume sugary foods and drinks. They can strike at any time and can be particularly strong when we're feeling stressed, tired, or emotional.
Why Do We Crave Sugar?
- Blood Sugar Levels: When our blood sugar drops, our body signals that it needs an energy boost, often leading to cravings for quick sources of energy like sugar.
- Hormonal Changes: Hormonal fluctuations during menstrual cycles can influence sugar cravings. Serotonin, the 'feel-good' hormone, can be boosted by sugar intake, which is why we might reach for sweets when we're feeling down.
- Brain Chemistry: Sugar releases dopamine, a neurotransmitter responsible for pleasure and reward. Over time, our brain can come to rely on sugar for these dopamine hits.
- Emotional Responses: Many of us have emotional ties to sugar, associating it with comfort, celebration, or stress relief.
How Can We Manage Sugar Cravings?
High-Protein Breakfast: Starting your day with a high-protein breakfast can set the tone for balanced blood sugar levels throughout the day. Protein is known for its satiating properties, meaning it keeps you feeling full and satisfied for longer. By opting for a high-protein breakfast, you reduce the early morning sugar intake, which can often lead to a cascade of sugar cravings as the day progresses.
Examples include eggs with vegetables, Free Soul Protein porridge, Greek yoghurt with nuts and seeds, or a tofu scramble. By prioritising protein in the morning, you're giving your body the fuel it needs and potentially reducing the desire for sugary snacks later on.
- Balanced Meals: Ensure your meals are balanced with proteins, healthy fats, and complex carbohydrates. This helps stabilise blood sugar levels and keeps you full for longer.
- Increase Fibre Intake: Foods high in fibre, like whole grains, fruits, and vegetables, slow the absorption of sugar, helping to stabilise blood sugar levels. They also keep you feeling full, reducing the chance of reaching for sugary snacks.
- Stay Hydrated: Sometimes, our bodies confuse thirst with hunger. Drink plenty of water throughout the day. Herbal teas can also be a comforting, sugar-free option.
- Establish an Eating Schedule: Consistency can be a powerful tool. By setting regular meal and snack times, you can train your body to expect food at certain intervals, reducing the likelihood of unexpected sugar cravings. This doesn't mean you have to eat by the clock, but having a general routine can help stabilise blood sugar levels and prevent those sudden urges for sugary treats.
- Mindful Eating: Pay attention to what you're eating. Savour each bite, and ask yourself if you're eating out of hunger or emotion.
- Sleep Well: Lack of sleep can lead to increased sugar cravings. Aim for 7-9 hours of quality sleep each night.
- Regular Exercise: Physical activity can help regulate blood sugar levels and reduce the desire for sugary treats. Even a brisk walk can make a difference!
- Limit Artificial Sweeteners: While they might seem like a good substitute, they can make you crave even more sugar. FS-Greens Mango is a delicious blend of 21 nutrient-rich greens, with no added sugars or artificial sweeteners - a great swap for those of you who crave sugary drinks and fruit juices.
- Manage Stress: Stress is a common trigger for sugar cravings. Find healthy ways to cope, such as meditation, yoga, or deep-breathing exercises.
- Listen to Your Body: Sometimes, a sugar craving might be a sign that your body needs certain minerals. For instance, craving chocolate might indicate a magnesium deficiency.
- Stay Prepared: Keep healthy snacks on hand, like nuts, seeds, or fruit, so you have something to reach for when a craving strikes.
Honouring Your Cravings
It's essential to remember that cravings aren't always the enemy. Our bodies are incredibly intuitive, and sometimes a craving is its way of communicating a specific need. There's a difference between mindless snacking and genuinely honouring a craving that arises from listening to our body.
If you find yourself constantly craving a particular food, it might be worth exploring if there's an underlying nutritional or emotional reason. Moreover, denying ourselves constantly can lead to feelings of deprivation, which might result in overindulgence later on. So remember, it's perfectly okay to treat yourself. The key is to do so mindfully, savouring every bite, and enjoying the experience without guilt. After all, nourishing our souls is just as important as nourishing our bodies.
Written by Marilia Chamon
Registered Nutritional Therapist, Gut Health, IBS & SIBO Expert
Founder of Gutfulness Nutrition