by Nicole Andrews
Reducing our sugar intake is never simple. We often suffer irritability or some other form of discomfort which can be very difficult to handle. Reducing sugar often leads to a feeling of withdrawal, leaving us with perpetual cravings which can be frustrating and emotionally exhausting. Can there be a solution to help alleviate these cravings or do we just have to tolerate them until they subside?
Although there are no quick fixes, there are various ways we can help alleviate the problem, making things a lot more tolerable. The following suggestions may help.
Eat at regular intervals. If we allow ourselves long periods between meals, the more our blood sugar levels fall. Once they drop too low, our body will need sustenance, and this is likely to inspire a craving for something sweet. It can be much more advantageous to eat every two to three hours, thereby stabilizing our blood sugar levels. Care should be taken to avoid foods such as white bread, white pasta, juice, soda, and sweetened drinks and foods with high sugar levels, which have the effect of causing more sugar cravings. Try to eat foods such as lean protein, whole grains, and healthy fats such as nuts, seeds, avocado and olive oil. Fresh green vegetables are also ideal for energizing the body without compromising blood sugar levels. Low sugar fruits are also a good idea for between-meal snacks or as dessert. Fruits such as melon, pears, berries, grapefruit and plums are all good examples of low sugar fruits.
Keep well hydrated. Hydration can play an important role in reducing sugar cravings. Often, we feel cravings which we assume are for energy- giving sugar when what our body really needs is water. When we are dehydrated, we often have a weary, tired feeling leading us to assume we need sugar or caffeine to boost our energy levels. Dehydration can give us many misleading cravings, when in fact all we need do is drink plenty of water. By drinking sufficient water, we can boost our energy levels and help resist the temptation to consume sugary foods and drinks.
Try to keep emotions in check. Sugar cravings can have a connection to the way we are feeling. Emotions can affect the way we approach many things, and battling sugar cravings is a prime example. Many of us, if we are stressed, sad, depressed or feeling low, feel the need for sweet comfort food. We often feel that sugar gives us the emotional lift and energy we need to overcome the negative feelings we are experiencing. There are many ways we can prepare ourselves for these emotional lows. We can try to make time for a daily relaxation period. Perhaps a little meditation or yoga may help to balance our emotions and keep us calm and relaxed. By giving ourselves these stress relieving sessions, we increase our feel good factor, making us capable of coping without the need for a sweet, sugary lift.
Although initially we may struggle to reduce our sugar intake, after a few days we will find it much easier. After a few weeks we may not even notice, and may find that we do not even crave it nearly as much as we had in the past.
Nicole Andrews offers a lifestyle medicine program that is scientifically proven to improve body composition and lab parameters. Sessions include education and coaching on diet, supplements, lifestyle habits and body composition testing. Andrews accepts Medicare and most private insurances. To schedule an appointment, call 954-489-1345. See ad page 57.