I recently had a reader write to me to ask about her sugar cravings. She is healthy, exercises most days of the week, eats a vegetarian diet, and has a real interest in health and wellness, yet everyday the inevitable sugar craving hits and once she starts it’s hard to pull back the reins. After responding to her email, I realized she is probably not alone. Here are the 5 reasons I often see my clients reaching for a cookie even though they have the best of intentions.
Do you ever feel like you are caught red handed like we were in this picture? Well then keep reading…#1-Your dehydrated, this is a more common cause of sugar cravings than you may realize. Years ago, I would wake up in the morning craving sweets and my health coach at the time recommended I drink a glass of water and wait 10 minutes to see if the cravings subsided. Guess what? It worked! Now I give my coaching clients the same advice, drink two glasses of water and walk away for a few minutes, if the craving goes away there you go, if not, if could be one of the other 4 culprits on this list.
#2-You might need to add a bit more sweet to your life. Are you stressed out? Do you feel like you don’t have any “fun” time or “me” time? It’s time to start loving life a bit, add in the sweet. You can start by taking a half hour of alone time a day to do something that really nourishes your soul and by adding in more root veggies and naturally sweet foods like fruits, sweet potato, carrots, honey, and beets to give your body what it is craving the healthy way. I have some great recipes to try out here.#3- You’re exhausted! Amen sister, me too! When you don’t get enough sleep your body gets all out of whack and lowers your leptin levels (the hormone that controls your appetite) so you are more prone to over eating. When you are sleep deprived your body also becomes more susceptible to glucose intolerance that can lead to diseases like diabetes. And cortisol, that pesky hormone that causes all the belly fat? That goes up. To summarize, not sleeping enough causes an increase in belly fat producing hormone combined with a decrease in appetite suppressing hormone and that spells disaster.
#4-Your Protein deficient. This was the case for me for a really long time while I was a vegetarian. It just didn’t work for my body. When I work with clients, whether they are vegan, vegetarian, or eat all types of protein I ask them to really pay attention to how their body feels after they eat certain proteins. Do eggs help curb the inevitable sugar craving better than almond butter for them? Would adding in chicken once or twice a week, or some high quality, wild caught fish be a good idea? If you are a vegetarian, I recommend avoiding processed soy foods and stick to tempeh, miso, and tofu since they are all fermented and easier for your body to break down and process. Add in some nuts for healthy fats, and legumes like peanuts and lentils which are high in protein and delicious. I love a good hemp protein powder in my morning smoothie and some almond butter on an apple as an afternoon snack. If you are getting adequate protein that your body can readily process you will start to notice your sugar cravings decreasing and your energy levels evening out as your blood sugar levels stabilize.
#5-You Vitamin-D levels are too low. It’s cold, it’s grey, there is very little direct sunlight, if you’re feeling blue, it could be the winter blues dragging you down. You may be reaching for sugar filled foods because your body wants a quick pick me up, a quick boost to get your serotonin levels up and get you feeling good. Vitamin D (which you get from the sun) helps increase sermon levels, that when low, can lead to depression. While sugar has a similar effect, the effect is short term and followed by a very big dip in both energy and mood so you wind up feeling worse than when you started. Try incorporating in a high quality Vitamin D supplement or eating foods rich in Vitamin D like eggs from free range chickens, free range beef and butter from pasture raised cows.
If you find that once you start eating sugar you just can’t stop, remember, sometimes we all need to indulge our sweet tooth for whatever reason, hormones, emotions, just plain old fun, and that’s okay! Enjoy it. 90 percent of the time, eat the best you can, and 10 percent, realize that no one is perfect and allowing yourself some fun will allow you to stay on track longer and take away the guilt that would have led to a binge.