The holiday season mean cookies, booze, parties, and SUGAR! Think your willpower's no match for sugar? Think again. You can overcome cravings and avoid falling victim to the dessert tray with these easy tips.
First off, to get you motivated, let’s look at the ways sugar wrongs us.
- Suppresses your immune system
- Is linked to cancers
- Promotes weight gain and obesity
- Disrupts the body's mineral balance
- Contributes to depression, anxiety and mood swings
- Promotes gut dysbiosis or overgrowth of bad bacteria, such as candida, in the gut
- Contributes to insulin resistance and diabetes
- Can cause hormonal imbalances
- Increases risk for Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis
- Can cause hypoglycemia
- Will reduce good HDL cholesterol and increase bad LDL cholesterol
- Prohibits weight loss
You know how it is. Once you start in on the sweets, you can’t stop at one. You have another and another, then you crave sugar and think about it all day. It’s an evil roller coaster. Stay off it. Here's how:
1. Start your day with protein and good fats.
Avoid refined foods such as cereals, bagels, croissants, or pastries. These foods contain sugar or break down quickly into sugar, causing an initial blood glucose spike followed by a crash. When your blood glucose drops too low and you crave sugar, what you actually need is protein.
For breakfast, have an egg-veggie scramble, a protein smoothie, or organic chicken sausages sauteed with spinach and topped with avocado.
2. Eat every 4 hours to maintain stable blood glucose levels.
Fill up on healthy foods periodically so you're never ravenous. And while you're at it: avoid refined sugars (the white granulated stuff). The more you eat sugar, the more you’ll crave it.
3. Save desserts for special occasions, not every day.
If you're going to indulge, stick to dark chocolate or truffles over high sugar candies, and bring treats that don’t contain refined sugars to parties. When baking, use unrefined sweeteners such as molasses, honey, or grade B maple syrup. I also love using xylitol, which doesn't feed intestinal bad bacteria or spike blood sugar.
4. Eat protein.
Before parties, eat a protein-based snack like organic turkey slices wrapped around avocado, hard boiled eggs, or apple with almond butter. Don’t show up ravenous!
5. Go easy on the booze.
Alcohol is metabolized as pure sugar and can lead to hypoglycemia, making you hungry, likely to overeat, and prone to making poor choices when you do eat. Drink water between cocktails and try to cap it at 2 drinks. Or, have a mocktail such as sparkling water with lime.
Sugar cravings are more than just a lack of willpower.
There is a physiological reason you crave sugar, and once you’re on the rollercoaster, it’s hard to get off. Don’t feel like a failure if you blow it; all you need to do is get back on that sugar-free horse the next day.
Start off with 8 ounces of hot water and the juice of 1/2 a lemon to detoxify, and drink green vegetable juices (celery, parsley, green apple, cucumber, ginger makes a nice blend) to alkalinize the body. (Sugar is very acidic). Then stick to protein & veggies throughout the day.
If you’ve got a really bad sweet tooth, here are some tips:
- Have a cup of green tea. It may sound preposterous, but we sometimes mistake hunger or craving cues for thirst, and the minerals in green tea give you a boost.
- Have a protein snack instead of reaching for the candy. As I mentioned, when blood sugar is low, you actually need protein to stabilize blood glucose levels.
- 500 mg – 1000mg of glutamine helps halt sugar cravings. Break open the capsules and empty under your tongue, then swallow with water.
- Certain minerals like chromium arrest sugar cravings. You can often find them in blood sugar balance supplement blends with other herbs or nutrients that also help. Examples are gymnema, alpha lipoic acid, and cinnamon.
Enjoy the holiday season! It’s OK to treat yourself every once in a while. Just save the treats for parties and special occasions.