CURB YOUR SUGAR CRAVINGS
Last week we hosted our most successful Wellness Workshop yet, which really wasn’t surprising since the topic was about SUGAR! We invited Integrative Nutrition Health Coach, Amber Roberston with BlissHolistic (who also teaches several of Team Green’s Nutrition Workshops the 3rd Wednesday of each month at the Nashville Farmers’ Market). Not only did she offer three great tips and a challenge to go along with each one, she also provided some gluten-free sweet-snack recipes without refined sugar. This week’s Adventure Blog recaps all of it!
The first, and most important, thing to understand about your sugar cravings is that often your mind is misinterpreting what your body is trying to tell you. When you experience a craving, before you choose to feed that craving, first step back and think about what your body might actually be saying.
TIP #1: QUIT YOUR JOB
Not really… but yeah, really! Amber shared the story of her negative relationship with sugar, body image, and general depression. She worked at an office in which sweets were always laying around the break room (gifts from clients, co-worker birthday cakes, leftovers from a meeting… you know how it goes!), and she would regularly help herself to them. It made her feel better, she thought. Then, one day, it really hit her that the reason she felt the need to “feel better” was because she was so unhappy. She hated her job, and the more she thought about it, the more she felt the urge to quit. So, she did!
She found another job that was more in line with her personal interests, and everything else in her life fell into a better place. She was more sociable; she had renewed energy; she was becoming more active… and she realized she was craving fewer sweets. Within only a few weeks after quitting her job, she lost 10 pounds! By the end of that year, she had lost another 40 pounds!
Remember that first, and most important, thing to understand about sugar cravings? It’s a mental/emotional interpretation, and whether we want to believe it or not, sugar is often a coping mechanism for unhappiness. Sugar provides a high, and when that sugar-crash comes, we want that high back. However, with every up there’s an even deeper down, making it a very depressing spiral; along with our emotional wellbeing, our physical wellbeing goes down the drain with it.
For you, it might not be your job, but there very well could be a challenge for you to consider.
Challenge #1: If you’re craving sugar in order to feel the rush that comes with it, what factors in your life are overwhelming you most during the crash? Is it your job, your romantic relationship (or lack of one), issues with your relatives, the place you live, an overly busy schedule (or boredom)? Consider what it might be, and make the necessary change for the benefit of your own health.
TIP #2: REPLACE REFINED SUGAR
Now here’s a real confusing fact: your body actually does crave sugar! However, sugar comes in many forms, and unfortunately the form we consume the most is not the form we want. Refined sugar was classified by Dr. William Coda Martin in 1957 as a poison because it has been depleted of its life forces, vitamins and minerals. “What is left consists of pure, refined carbohydrates. The body cannot utilize this refined starch and carbohydrate unless the depleted proteins, vitamins, and minerals are present.”
Refined sugar is the stuff you pour into your coffee each morning; it’s in your candy bars, donuts, yogurt, and even your bread and ketchup! Did you know that the United States is the #1 consumer of sweeteners in the world? We don’t even have the largest population in the world! The average American, eating the “standard American diet,” is estimated to consume approximately 150 pounds of sugar each year. That’s the equivalent of consuming both a TG & OhJoe sized sugar statue every year (cute.. but really gross!)
Another way to look at it, we are each consuming an entire 1 pound bag of sugar every two-and-a-half days.
Now, think about how you start your morning. What are you eating for breakfast? Does it involved a sugary drink (like coffee or soda) and a sugary solid (like Pop Tarts, flavored oatmeal, donuts, muffins, breakfast cereal)? Or, are you eating a breakfast high in protein and fiber (eggs, fruit, and vegetables)? Are you eating breakfast, at all? Now consider how you typically feel a couple hours into your day. Are you still feeling energetic, or lethargic? Are you cheerful or moody? Do you feel productive straight into lunch, or do you experience brain fog?
Replacing refined sugars with natural forms of sugar containing fiber and minerals (like fruit) will help you extend that sugar high. Fiber is known to slow the absorption rate of sugar and regulate blood sugar levels, unlike refined sugar (ie. a candy bar) that goes straight into the blood stream and disappears just as quickly.
During the workshop, we brainstormed some sweet vegetables we can add to our diets. Here’s the short list:
- Sweet Potatoes
- Sweet Onions
- Butternut Squash
- Sweet Corn
- Sweet Bell Peppers
The problem is not that our body craves sugar. The problem is our relationship with sugar and how we consume it.
Challenge #2: Try this experiment for a week or two. It involves making a meal plan and keeping a diary. On day one, eat a sugary breakfast (ie. coffee and a donut or cinnamon roll). On day two, eat a high fiber/protein breakfast (ie. scrambled eggs with 100% orange juice). On day three, eat a sugary breakfast (ie. breakfast cereal and bottle of soda). On day four, eat a high fiber/protein breakfast (ie. fruit smoothie with added greens and nuts). Continue to alternate each day, and make an entry into your journal noting what you ate, how you felt right after, how you felt a few hours later, your general mood throughout the day, and your level of productivity.
Draw your own conclusions!
TIP #3: DRINK WATER FIRST
Remember that first, and most important, fact about sugar cravings? We are misinterpreting our body’s message in more ways than one. There’s the emotional misinterpretation we’ve already discussed. Two, we misinterpret the type of sugar our body wants. And, three, there’s the factor of dehydration.
Often when our body is dehydrated, we don’t realize it. Yes, we are all aware of the dry throat sign, but when we experience that sign our body is already 20 minutes past the point of dehydration. Other signs include headaches, spongy skin, and cravings. We know our body wants to consume something, but no matter how much comfort food we eat, we just don’t feel satisfied. That’s dehydration!
Challenge #3: Next time you have a strong craving for anything (sugary food, salty food, a very specific food that you just can’t stop thinking about), grab yourself a cup of water and drink the entire thing in one sitting. Wait 20 minutes, and see if you still have those cravings.
AVOCADO CHOCOLATE MOUSSE
Now, here’s a recipe you’re sure to love!
1 peeled & pitted avocado
1 cup unsweetened almond milk
2 tbsp raw cacao powder
Natural Sweetener (honey, pure maple syrup, or stevia)
Box of strawberries (or chopped banana or melon, etc.)
In a food processor or high-speed blender, combine the ingredients until creamy. Blend in natural sweetener to taste. Chill for an hour, then serve with fruit!
Team Green’s Wellness Workshops are currently the 4th Thursday of every month, hosted at the American Cancer Society’s Hope Lodge on Charlotte Ave. However, we’re considering moving the day of week and locations, and would love your feedback! Future topics include: Stress Management with Major Family Chiropractic (June), Seasonal Allergies with the Allergy, Asthma & Sinus Center (July), Holiday Stress Management with Major Family Chiropractic (November), and Understanding Blood Types (December). We’re looking for new topic ideas for August-October, which you can provide in our feedback survey, too!
-Keeley (Team Green’s Director)