By Amy Armstrong ND
With holidays quickly approaching, it’s easy to over-indulge in all the tasty cookies, treats and holiday-infused lattes. Many of us find we not only want, but are craving, these sweets! Here’s why:
When we eat simple carbohydrates (think white bread, potatoes, cookies, sugar) we are giving ourselves a huge dose of sugar, aka glucose, very quickly. We feel great and energized (Hello sugar high!) but little do we know the body is pumping out insulin quickly to use or store the glucose. Quickly, our blood sugar drops and we feel hungry and cranky (better known as “hangry”). Your body remembers that the sugary food helped it feel good, so what does it ask for? More sugar! This is where sugar cravings set in and we tend to go for what’s quick, close by and often consume too much of it.
Eat sugar = Quick rise and Drop in blood sugar = Crave more sugar = Eat more sugar
And on and on it goes!
So how do we stop this endless cycle? As a naturopathic doctor, I always treat the root cause of a craving, which in this instance is the quick change in blood sugar, with two simple methods.
First, avoid skipping meals! When you skip a meal your blood sugar drops, and you are left starving by the time you get around to eating. The first thing you’ll look for is a quick energy boost from (you guessed it!) sugar! Make sure to eat regular meals every 4-5 hours and pay attention to when you are having a craving. For many, this is often between meals, so keep healthy snacks on hand for an energy boost.
Second, combine simple carbohydrates and sugar with foods that are rich in protein, fiber and fat. These help to slow down how quickly sugar is sent from the digestive tract into the blood stream. This leads to a slower rise in blood sugar, a slower release of insulin, and a slower drop in blood sugar. When blood sugar comes down slowly, we get the signal to eat before we reach the starving point. This leaves us time to think about what to eat, prepare food and enjoy it, rather than grab whatever is closest.
Easy Ways to Add Protein, Fats & Fiber
Nuts or nut butter
Seeds (hemp, chia, flax)
Healthy oils (coconut, grapeseed, olive)
Veggie sticks and hummus
And many more!
Remember it’s okay to enjoy treats this season, but use these tips to make sure that snack is a conscious choice, not indulging your craving. By tackling your cravings, you’ll probably find one cookie satisfies you, rather than going back for seconds (or thirds, or fourths)!