6 Ways To Beat Those Nasty Sugar Cravings
Eliminating refined sugar from your diet can be a challenging process that involves a dirty, rotten transition period. This transition period is many times characterized by annoying symptoms (headaches, breakouts, irritability, fatigue, cognitive issues, sugar cravings, anxiety and sleep disturbances) that are often the result of sugar addiction and withdrawal.
As painful as they may be, these symptoms are a sign of progress and they will end.
A little discipline goes a long way.
Fortunately, even if your willpower muscles haven’t been flexed in a while, the tips in this email will help you keep sugar cravings at bay which will increase your chances of survival exponentially! But first, for those of you who like to get technical, let’s learn a little bit about why sugar cravings occur in the first place.
THE SCIENCE OF SUGAR CRAVINGS AND WITHDRAWAL
Sugar’s addictive potential is well documented and research indicates that illicit drugs and sugar utilize similar pathways within the brain. One rat study even suggested that sugar may be even more addictive than cocaine. While this finding has yet to be replicated in humans, it is still frightening.
When we eat sugar our brain is flooded with feel-good neurotransmitters that affect our mood. When this flood occurs often enough, it is followed by a dramatic drop in neurotransmitter levels. This drop is especially severe if your diet lacks the building blocks (amino acids) required to replenish neurotransmitter stores.
In an effort to compensate for the lack of building blocks, your body may become dependent on sugar to raise dwindling neurotransmitter levels. Thereafter, any effort to eliminate refined sugar will result in withdrawal symptoms that often make us want to abandon our sugar-ditching efforts.
Please note that resisting the urge to throw in the towel is the fastest way to interrupt this vicious cycle! The more strictly you abstain, the faster your health will improve.
And if its addictive potential wasn’t enough, please remember that refined sugar consumption is also linked to:
- Depressed immunity
- Damaged proteins
- Increased cardiovascular risk
- Nutrient excretion (B vitamins, vitamin C, vitamin E, magnesium and calcium),
- Insulin resistance
- Type 2 diabetes
- Accelerated aging
Unfortunately, this is just the tip of the iceberg. If you need 135 other reasons sugar ruins your health to keep you on the straight and narrow, please check out Nancy Appleton’s extensive list here.
To add insult to injury, each time you reach for a sweet treat you not only suffer the deleterious effects of sugar consumption described above, but you also displace other potentially nutrient-dense foods from your diet.
In other words, the health benefits of your paleo diet will be significantly diminished.
Fortunately, all of these travesties can be avoided with a little discipline and the tips in this email. A solid 2-3 solid weeks of unwavering commitment is usually all it takes for the dust to settle. Hang in there. Eventually you will acquire an appreciation for the natural sweetness of whole foods that enabled our ancestors to thrive.
In the meantime use the following 6 tips to make this process more manageable. Watch for part 2 of this email with more great tips, coming soon!
1. Consume protein at every meal.
Low blood sugar can trigger sugar cravings. Protein is digested slowly which can help keep your blood sugar stable. Opt for 20 grams of protein at each meal and try to include it with every snack. Our non-denatured grass-fed whey or Paleovalley beef sticks can definitely help stabilize your blood sugar while on the go!
2. Consume quality fat daily.
Have you ever wanted to binge on a bar of butter? You most likely answered “no,” and that’s because the high quality fat butter contains is incredibly satisfying. In fact, fat is sooo satisfying that sugar cravings can actually be a sign of dietary fat deficiency. Talk about a mindshift. I know the concept is counterintuitive, but high quality fat consumption is your best bet for taming your sugar dragon. Begin your day with hot water, the juice from ½ lemon and a teaspoon of unrefined coconut oil to promote blood sugar stability. Avocado, cold-pressed extra virgin olive oil, wild fish, olives, and nuts and seeds can also work wonders!
3. Eat up to 2 servings of fruits per day, always with fat.
Quench your sugar cravings in a health supportive way with organic fruit in whole form (no fruit juice!). Be sure not to exceed 2 servings per day as natural sugar can still promote blood sugar fluctuations that exacerbate cravings. Low glycemic berries are your best option.
For maximum results, pair your whole fruit with high quality fat. For example, try smothering your organic apple with organic almond butter or drizzling unrefined coconut oil on your berries. This practice helps to promote blood sugar stability which further prevents sugar cravings.
4. Take 500 mg L-glutamine when sugar cravings strike.
L-glutamine is an amino acid found in protein that is used as fuel by the brain. It can also help to heal and repair the digestive tract. Take 500 mg (you can even empty directly onto your tongue) whenever cravings strike. You may also use it preventatively by taking 500 mg two times per day on an empty stomach.
*Please avoid glutamine if you are suffering from manic depression or bipolar disorder or if you are taking prescription medication.
5. Craving chocolate?
Chocolate cravings can indicate a magnesium deficiency. To improve your magnesium status, begin each day with a low-glycemic greens shake made from cucumber, celery, spinach, kale, lemon, ginger and one strawberry. You may also try adding other magnesium rich foods such as almonds, kelp, cashews, and brewer’s yeast.
6. Make a plan.
Carry protein or fat-filled snacks with you in your purse, car or briefcase to help muzzle sugar cravings before disaster strikes. This was one of the reasons we created our Paleovalley beef sticks. We could never find portable power snacks that were healthy so we felt compelled to make them! Today, I won’t leave home without a bag of soaked nuts, a superfood bar or a grass-fed beef stick so I am never forced to compromise my health goals.
Setting yourself up for success is half the battle!
Hopefully these tips help you to tame your sugar cravings so that your can stick to your paleo plan and finally experience the vibrant health you deserve.
Although I always advocate strict elimination of refined sugar for best results, please also remember to have patience with yourself! The road to radiant health isn’t always a straight one, but it’s undoubtedly worth every twist and turn.