Sugar is a toxin, which has been linked to obesity, insulin resistance, type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, liver disease, mood disorders and even cancer. Not so sweet, huh?
And the problem is that too many of us are consuming way too much sugar- without even knowing it. You see, sugar likes to hide, in all kinds of places. You can find it in many packaged foods, sauces, dairy products and even condiments. Take a look at your labels and you will see what I mean.
The American Heart Association recommends no more than 36 grams of sugar per day for men, and no more than 24 grams per day for women. That is the equivalent of just 9 tsp of sugar for men and 6 tsp of sugar for women.
Even if we were to only eat foods that contained sugar naturally (for example milk has lactose, which is a natural milk sugar, fruit has fructose, a natural fruit sugar, and vegetables are even sweet) we would reach that cap naturally through the course of the day.
The problem isn’t those foods at all, it’s all the foods that aren’t in their natural form that have had sugar added to them “to make them taste good.” And when companies have gone “Fat Free” or “Gluten Free”they will typically add more sugar to make these foods edible again! So while you think you are making a healthy choice, you actually aren’t.
It certainly doesn’t help that so many foods have added sugar, but unfortunately, it’s something that our body often craves for various reasons. But if we can understand these cravings, and have a plan in place before they begin, it will be easier to eliminate them for optimal health!
Why do you get cravings?
Lack of water can send the message that you are thirsty and on the verge of dehydration. Dehydration can manifest as a mild hunger, so the first thing to do when you get a craving is drink a full glass of water.
Excess water can also cause cravings, so be sure that your water intake is well balanced.
Not Eating Balanced Meals
Are you eating too much of one thing? Not eating a proper balance of foods can cause cravings in order to maintain balance. For example, eating a diet too rich in sugar may cause a craving for something salty or savory. Eating too many raw foods may cause cravings for extremely cooked foods. Be sure to incorporate quality protein and healthy fats into your meals to satisfy your hunger. When you have a proper balance of foods, your cravings won’t be so strong.
If you are not sure what a diet balanced in nutrients should looks like, grab my 10 FREE Fat Burning Breakfast Recipes Book HERE. It’s a collection of my best 10 high protein, fat burning favorite breakfast recipes that are delicious and easy to make. Not only will you be giving your health a boost, but you will cut down on those carb or sugar cravings too when you start your day off with a healthy breakfast!
Using Food for Comfort
Often times, cravings come when we’re stressed, sad, angry or even bored! When you’re reaching for a bag of chips or find yourself drowning in a tub of ice cream, ask yourself these questions: Am I really hungry? Is something upsetting me? Did someone hurt my feelings? Can I find another way to comfort myself? Then, find something that doesn’t involve food to comfort yourself. This can be a warm bath, snuggling with a pet, watching a funny movie, reading a good book or any activity you love.
Lack of Nutrients
If the body has inadequate nutrients, it will produce odd cravings. For example, inadequate mineral levels produce salt cravings, and overall inadequate nutrition produces cravings for non-nutritional forms of energy, like caffeine and you guessed it—sugar! Eating plenty of whole foods and cutting back on processed and fast foods will help to boost your nutrient intake.
When women experience menstruation, pregnancy, or menopause, fluctuating testosterone and estrogen levels may cause unique cravings. Ever notice how badly you want chocolate or chips during your time of month? If yes, don’t be so hard on yourself and have healthier snack options on hand.
Not Eating Enough
Busy schedules and a stressful lifestyle often cause us to skip meals or not eat enough. This can result in low blood sugar, mood swings and low energy. We then reach for comfort foods or something quick like a bag of chips because we are starving! Aim to have three meals per day and snacks in between, if necessary.
Would you like to know the first place I start my clients off when they are trying to lose weight and be healthier? It’s breakfast!
Why? Because it sets you up for a successful day. You will be less likely to have cravings, your blood sugars will be stable, and you will be more likely to stay on track and make healthy choices. A breakfast balanced in macros will also kick-start your metabolism to get you fat burning instead of storing it!
All recipes are gluten free and high in protein to support your body in building and maintaining lean muscle
and include the nutrient breakdown for calories, carbs, fat & protein.
How to beat those cravings!
Tip 1: Eat naturally sweet fruits and vegetables, like berries, apples, apricots, sweet potatoes, onions, beets and carrots during your regular meals.
Tip 2: Swap white sugar for natural sweeteners such as honey, maple syrup, coconut sugar or date sugar when baking and to add to your coffee or tea.
Tip 3: Incorporate greens into your meals. Fiber in leafy greens keeps you full longer. You can add greens like spinach or kale to smoothies or just sauté them with some olive oil and sea salt for a yummy side dish.
Tip 4: Increase healthy fats, such as olive oil, nuts, wild-caught salmon, avocados, grass-fed beef, and coconut oil to keep you satisfied and full for hours.
Tip 5: Drink filtered water throughout the day. Many folks mistake dehydration for sugar cravings. Add some fresh squeezed lemon juice or chia seeds for an added energy boost and to avoid the afternoon slump!
Tip 6: Incorporate self-care. Many people reach for sugar when they’re upset or stressed out. Treat yourself with non-food items and activities, such as a warm bath, self-massage with lavender oil, a walk in nature or watch a funny movie.
Tip 7: Change your perception of stress. Not only can chronic stress cause high blood pressure, but it can also cause hormonal imbalances, sleep issues, weight gain and aggravate autoimmune diseases. But if you think differently about your “stressors” and implement stress-reducing activities like meditation and deep breathing, you’ll feel more balanced.
Tip 8: Sleep well. It improves your memory, immune system, cognitive skills, keeps your heart healthy, reduces stress and speeds up your metabolism. Aim for 7-9 hours per night and start by increasing 30 minutes each night, until you figure out what makes you feel your best.
Tip 9: Stop dieting. When an item is “low-fat” or “fat-free”, the fat is usually replaced with sugar or sodium to add flavor. This causes you to get accustomed to sweet foods, resulting in cravings. Don’t be afraid of fat!
Tip 10: Find healthy sweets! A piece of fruit is my go-to when I want something sweet. But there’s nothing wrong with indulging now and then with some good quality dark chocolate, chia pudding, or even dairy-free ice cream.
And my personal favorite way to deal with a craving?
Tip 11: Get moving and exercise, even if it’s a 10 minute walk. If you really want to kick that craving to the curb, try a Tabata! They only take 4 minutes but because you will be so focused on finishing, that craving is sure to disappear.
A Tabata consists of 8 rounds of 20 second bouts of exercise with 10 seconds of rest in between. You can really have fun with these and mix them up however you like depending on your mood.
Here’s a few suggestions for what a Tabata could look like. Set your timer and GO!
Tabata #1: Full Body Pilates- repeat all four exercises twice for a total of 4 minutes
- Pilates Inchworms or Push Ups
- Chair Pose Squat
- Back Extensions
Tabata #2: Cardio Crazy- repeat both exercises, alternating running man, for a total of 4 minutes
- Butt kicks
- Running Man (alternate right & left)
Tabata #3: Lower Body Burn- repeat all four exercises twice for a total of 4 minutes
- Squat Jumps
- Lunge Right
- Lunge Left
Tabata #4: Upper Body Sculpt– alternate between the 2 exercises for a total of 4 minutes
- Push Ups
- Kneeling Shoulder Dumbbell Press
I hope this gave you a better understanding of why you get cravings- because remember it is not your fault! I’d also love to hear if you tried any of these tips and how they worked for you!
Start your day off right and grab your 10 FREE Fat Burning Breakfast Recipes.
A breakfast balanced in macros will also kick-start your metabolism to get you fat burning instead of storing it!
All recipes are gluten free and high in protein to support your body in building and maintaining lean muscle and include the nutrient breakdown of calories, cabs, fat and protein.