Blood Sugar Imbalance- 2nd Cause of Sugar Cravings
The second leading cause of sugar cravings, besides nutritional deficiencies, is blood sugar imbalance. I am sure you recall that light headed feeling you get when you have gone too long without a meal or snack; headache, weak and shaky, or just plain irritable. When you have these sensations, especially often, it is quite possible that you are having a hypoglycemic response from something you ate earlier (say 2 hours ago) that was high in sugar (think candy, cake, pastries, Starbucks coffee).
Studies show that we lose our ability to control our desire to eat when our blood sugar levels drop too low, and we crave sweet and heavy calorie-laden snacks and treats. And when you indulge your cravings, blood sugar levels spike and then drop dramatically. Lethargy sets in. Once you hit another low, the craving for even more high-calorie foods kicks in again. It’s a vicious cycle. Most foods nowadays are high glycemic and typically initiate an insulin response from your body. This insulin response leads to spiking blood sugar and a crash not long afterwards. This eventually turns into what is called insulin resistance, and your body then begins to pack on the weight, and no matter what you do, you can’t lose it.
Blood sugar levels fluctuate naturally throughout the day. Levels are lowest in the morning, which causes hunger. They peak for an hour or so after a meal and then return to base level when hunger is satiated. These spikes cause hunger and sugar cravings, as well as leaving you fatigued throughout the day. Remember the afternoon slump that usually occurs around 3:00 pm? That is usually caused by a blood sugar low…something you ate at lunch has brought your blood sugar level way down, giving you the “need” for some quick energy, like a candy bar and large sweet coffee!
Blood sugar spikes stimulate the pancreas to pump out more insulin. Studies show that diseases such as Type 2 Diabetes, stroke, heart disease,cancer, as well as many other issues can develop after years of insulin resistance that occurs as a result of daily blood sugar spikes.
What to do
To avoid blood sugar imbalance, and extreme highs and lows, be persistent in eating regular consistent meals. Include quality protein at each meal, and with each snack. Even a handful of nuts with that apple will go long way to keeping your blood sugar stable. Work on limiting and eliminating sugar and carbs from the white stuff (flour, sugar, rice, potatoes, pastries, etc.). Make it a point to NEVER eat sugar, carbs in the form of breads or sweets, or sweetened cola or other drinks (yes that Starbucks counts) alone. This is the worse thing that you can do that creates blood sugar imbalance. If you have to have it, balance it out by including protein and a vegetable with it. I know…I know…it takes some of the pleasure out of it. But it really will make a difference in how you feel. I promise. Another change to make, is to eat more high fiber foods throughout the day….food in the form of fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, nuts and seeds. High fiber foods will keep you fuller longer, and help you feel more satiated.
Here are some examples of the top foods to eat to help regulate blood sugar throughout the day:
- olives/olive oil
- coconut products/coconut oil
- chia seeds
- vinegar (Braggs with the mother)
- fenugreek seeds (I sprout mine and use in salads)
See the great smoothie recipe I created that includes at least 8 of the above foods! What a great way to start your day, then with this Blueberry, Cherry, Avocado Smoothie!
You can control your blood sugar. You can do this naturally, without medication. However, it will take work, perseverance, and self-discipline in order to reduce your insulin resistance and blood sugar imbalance. There are other things to do, which I go into more detail with my clients. But if you start with just some of these suggestions, you are well on your way to feeling better.