Sugar cravings are natural. Throughout evolution, humans have been programmed to desire sweet tasting foods. That being said, it’s very hard to control sugar cravings, if you don’t understand where they are coming from to begin with. Sugar cravings are usually our bodies simply asking for energy or it can be a sign that something in our diet/lifestyle is not in balance. However, sugar actually isn’t always the problem. The problem usually is the addictive cycle that’s created by consuming processed sugar, feeling the sugar rush (blood sugar spike), crashing, and then beginning this vicious cycle all over again.
When your blood sugar is low that’s when you’re most vulnerable to cravings. This is because that’s when your body is looking for energy. Our bodies always want to be in balance, this includes always having a balanced amount of sugar in our blood. For example, have you ever notice craving something sweet after a large satisfying meal? Well, this is because when you eat a large meal all your energy is diverted to your stomach to digest the meal, which leaves you feeling sluggish and usually with a sugar craving.
The best way to curb and alleviate an intense sugar craving is to provide the body with the sweetness that it’s craving by simply eating some naturally sweet foods. I do not believe in trying to override natural instincts. Of course, it helps to have discipline around food, but trying to control the body by using the mind is very challenging in the long term. The mind usually wins.
Try slowly incorporating some of the strategies:
- Avoid buying processed sugary foods. This strategy takes discipline but I found it’s one that works.
- Eat healthy whole sweet foods to alleviate cravings, sweet vegetables and fruit are best. Have these available and ready to eat when cravings set.
- Drink enough Water. Dehydration can manifest as a mild hunger/ a sugar craving. Try taking a deep breath, and then drinking a full glass of water next time you’re craving something sweet. Chances are this will eliminate your craving.
- Get enough sleep. Low energy = sugar cravings. Our bodies want to remain in balance. The less energy you have, the more vulnerable you will be to sugar cravings.
- Exercise! Having a daily exercise regimen can help curb cravings by increasing energy levels throughout the day. Also exercise helps to maintain balanced blood sugar.
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Recently, there has been a lot of press around gluten. Gluten is a protein (amino acid) found in several types of grains, including wheat, spelt, rye and barley. It’s the glue-like substance that gives bread its elastic properties. Gluten isn’t technically harmful to your health unless you have celiac disease, the most severe gluten allergy, or have a gluten sensitivity.
When you have Celiac disease, the immune system attacks gluten and the cells of the digestive tract. It is classified as an autoimmune disease and can lead to nutrient deficiencies, digestive issues, fatigue and an increase risk of many other diseases. It is believed to afflict about 1% of people with over 80% not even knowing they have it.
The other type of gluten intolerance is called ‘gluten sensitivity’ and is much more common. Those who are sensitive to gluten have adverse reactions such as headaches, brain fog, bloating and fatigue. It has been estimated that around 6%-8% of people have gluten sensitivity.
If you have any of the above symptoms or suspect you may have a sensitivity to gluten, simply eliminate it from your diet for 14 days, then reintroduce it and see how your body responds.
Important Note: Just because it says “gluten free” on the label doesn’t mean it’s healthy. Food marketers are smart and play into consumer treads. Since gluten has gotten more and more exposure over the past several years, food marketers are responding with more and more gluten free food products. For example, just because the box of cookies says “gluten free” doesn’t make them any healthier than if they had gluten in them. In fact, sometimes “gluten free” package food can be even more processed and contain even more sugar and other harmful ingredients simply to enhance the flavor and texture of the product.
The bottom line is that many processed artificial foods contain gluten. So by avoiding these foods, you will lose weight, have more energy and generally feel better. This begs the question… is it that you’re avoiding gluten that you’re experiencing all these amazing health benefits? Or is it that the food you were consuming that contained gluten was simply not really healthy to begin with? Hmmmm….
Try this: If you’re someone who eats a lot of processed foods, try avoiding all processed foods for at least 14 days, then reintroduce a healthy food item that contains gluten (such as whole grain bread) back into your diet and see how your body responds. You may find that it really isn’t the gluten you’re sensitive to.
Give this a try and let me know how it goes in the comments below…
Gluten or no gluten…that is the question!
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Summary: What does “eating clean” really mean?
My definition for “eating clean” is eating a whole foods, plant-based diet full of both essential vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. It means steering clear of processed or packaged foods with ingredients you can’t pronounce, avoiding artificial, genetically modified, pesticide laden foods and eating organic as much as possible.
Our bodies are amazing machines that need quality macronutrients and micronutrients to function properly. But wait a minute? what the heck is a macronutrient and micronutrient? Good question, and it’s really simple….. macronutrients include carbohydrates, fats, and proteins. Micronutrients include vitamins and minerals. These are the chemical foundations of our food and essential to the health of our bodies.
Unfortunately, due to modern food production methods, getting quality nutrition can be somewhat challenging. Most of us have hectic schedules and rely on convenience foods to sustain us. But most convenience foods are loaded with sugar, bad fats, are genetically modified, and laden with pesticides and herbicides which have the opposite effect of nourishing the body. Processed convenience foods actually create stress and inflammation in our bodies which is the root of almost all disease.
You might be wondering what are convenience foods, well convenience foods are usually those products which are not longer alive. They come in packages, boxes, wrappers, are frozen, and packed with chemical preservative to make them last, in some case literally for years. Now that’s not to say that all foods that come in a package or box are bad for you of course but most don’t qualify as “real food”. I actually don’t even consider convenience foods, foods at all. A more accurate name for these types of foods would be “food-like” products. The good news is that by just slowly starting to eliminate “food-like” products from your diet you’ll be well on your way to eating clean.
What happens when you are constantly bombarding your body with these types of processed foods? Well, imagine what would happen if you put regular gasoline in high performance racecar? It would have a hard time performing up to its potential, in fact It might not even run! It needs high test quality gasoline to due its job. Well the body is the same way. The better quality fuel you are putting in your body, the better performance you’ll get. So by eating clean living foods, you will be able to perform at a optimal level. Your mental clarity, your energy or life force vitality will increase, your mood will improve, you’ll look and feel better, and will overall be able to get more done. What you’re risking by not eating “clean” is having low energy, being more tired, and irritable, and just not having the gas to get past the finish line each day…
Getting started eating clean is really simple. Start by adding one or two clean food choices to your daily diet. A simple example of a clean food choice would be any fresh organic fruit or vegetable. By incorporating more clean food choices into your diet, eventually you will begin to crowd out “unclean” foods. The more crowding out that takes place, the more in-tune you will become with your body and your food choices. Once you become in-tune with your body you’ll be able to listen to what it is truly asking for which is nutrient dense foods that provide you with sustained energy. You’ll begin to notice that your body will be more attracted to these new healthy clean foods and reject “food-like” products.
As you begin adding more and more clean foods into your diet, you may notice your body also beginning to cleanse itself. This doesn’t take place overnight but rather over weeks and months of eating nutrient dense clean foods. Sometimes you may experience detox symptoms like headaches, nausea and a possible upset stomach. Don’t worry, these are normal and will go away as your body gets re-calibrated to your new healthy clean way of eating. Look I know this may seem complicated but it’s really quite simple. The less processed convenience, fast-food you eat and the more fresh living nutrient dense food aka “clean food” you start to eat the healthier you’ll begin to feel. To get started try avoid eating food that comes from bags, boxes, packages and cans. Replace this food with fresh fruits, vegetables, whole-grains and organically farmed animals.
Remember it’s by making small consistent changes now that lasting results are experienced later…
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