With the start of the fall season, we delight over the leaves changing colour, our trendy fall wardrobes and spiced pumpkin lattes! The cooler temperatures tend to keep us indoors when we often reach for our comfort foods and succumb to our overwhelming sugar cravings! Sugar is addictive and sometimes our cravings are impossible to break! Whether it’s a few cookies here, or a hot chocolate there, once we indulge in our cravings for sweets and treats, it can be extremely hard to break the vicious cycle. Now that the season has begun, I am here to arm you with the knowledge of how sugar can be detrimental to your health and to provide you with a few tips on how to be more resilient against your cravings.
We all know that too much sugar is bad for your health, however here is a quick summary to remind you of why we should be mindful of our sugar intake. First of all, sugar is highly addictive. This is because sugar causes the release of dopamine in the reward centre of the brain1. As a result, it causes an individual to continuously keep seeking sugar to obtain a dopamine rush. Furthermore, eating refined sugars causes a rapid rise in our blood glucose levels. In the short term, fluctuations in our blood sugar throughout the day can lead to anxiety, fatigue, mood swings and can affect mental clarity. In addition, rapid spikes in blood sugar are followed by rapid spikes in insulin, which over the longer term can lead to the development of insulin resistance, type II diabetes, metabolic syndrome, obesity and cardiovascular disease2. When excessive amounts of sugar are ingested into the body, our bodies have no choice but to turn this glucose into fat. Sugar and carbohydrate consumption are a major contributing cause of being overweight and the obesity epidemic3. Lastly, studies have also shown that individuals with insulin resistance are also at higher risk for developing cancer4. While a sugar craving can seem so benign, it carries significant health consequences.
Here are some suggestions to help you fight off those sugar cravings this fall:
- Try to pair your carbohydrates with a protein or a healthy fat. Since protein and fat take longer to digest, this will curb the rise of your blood sugar and help to keep you full for longer.
- Gymnema sylvestre is a medicinal plant from Asia. The leaf contains the active constituent called gurmarin which has the ability to suppress the sweet receptors of the tongue5. Use gymnema to temporarily suppress your sugar cravings.
- The fall is a great time to consider detoxifying your body with a cleanse. Speak to your naturopathic doctor about detox options, which will give you a kickstart in clean eating and will help to eliminate sugar cravings.
- Having sugar after physical exercise, is one of the only times that you can eat a little sugar, without paying for the consequences. After a workout, the sugar will go to replenish your glycogen stores and won’t be stored as fat! Again, ensure to keep your intake of sugar to a minimum.
- Consume more fermented foods and beverages such as sauerkraut, kimchi, tempeh, miso and kombucha as they will help to reduce your sugar cravings.
- Be more mindful and try to determine when you are seeking sugar. Is it because you are tired, bored, thirsty, on your menstrual cycle or stressed? Once you know when to expect it, try to have some healthy snacks on hand so as not to fall prey to your cravings.
- Sugar cravings can also be the result of conditions such as adrenal fatigue, hormone imbalances, bacterial overgrowth in the gut and Candida to name a few…consider booking an appointment with your naturopathic doctor to determine if other imbalances in the body may be the root cause of your sugar cravings.
Stay resilient and strong against your sugar cravings this season! Wishing you a healthy and happy fall.
To your good heath,
- Avena N, Rada P, Hoebel B. Evidence for sugar addiction: Behavioral and neurochemical effects of intermittent, excessive sugar intake. Neuroscience & Biobehavioral Reviews. 2008;32(1):20-39.
- Grundy S. Hypertriglyceridemia, insulin resistance, and the metabolic syndrome. The American Journal of Cardiology. 1999;83(9):25-29.
- Siervo M, Montagnese C, Mathers J, Soroka K, Stephan B, Wells J. Sugar consumption and global prevalence of obesity and hypertension: an ecological analysis. Public Health Nutrition. 2013;17(03):587-596.
- Arcidiacono B, Iiritano S, Nocera A et al. Insulin Resistance and Cancer Risk: An Overview of the Pathogenetic Mechanisms. Experimental Diabetes Research. 2012;2012:1-12.
- Kashima H, Eguchi K, Miyamoto K et al. Suppression of Oral Sweet Taste Sensation with Gymnema sylvestre Affects Postprandial Gastrointestinal Blood Flow and Gastric Emptying in Humans. Chemical Senses. 2017;42(4):295-302.
Leave a reply