How to Eat a Low(er) Sugar Diet--continuedby Laura J Hieb, ND on May 17, 2021
So we've seen that sugar contributes to weight gain and is the main cause of insulin resistance. And insulin resistance leads to type 2 diabetes and is a major obstacle to weight loss.
In my last blog I gave some examples of what to eat when you are on a low/no sugar diet. In this blog I want to discuss mindful eating and limiting sugar cravings and what to do when you have one.
Mindfulness is very helpful to practice in our lives overall, but it can be especially helpful in avoiding sugar. We have so much sugar in our environment that eating sweets on a regular basis becomes a habit. The next time you are offered something sweet or are browsing in the fridge or pantry, take a step back and ask yourself:
Do I really want this?
Maybe you do, so ask yourself, is there anything you want more than this? To lose weight? To take a break? To save those sugar grams for a sweet you like better? To reverse type 2 diabetes? To reach out to a friend? Or not?
If you really want it, then go ahead and eat it. And enjoy each bite. Really. If you eat it and don't enjoy it because you feel guilty, then what's the point? Practice mindfulness while you eat it. Savor it. And stop eating it when you stop savoring it.
But when you take a moment to think about it, maybe you don't want it. Or at least you don't want it very much. So you just saved yourself some unnecessary sugar.
Okay, what about sugar cravings? Why do we have them? There are many reasons, but it basically boils down to the body knowing it can get a quick boost of energy and/or good feelings if it gets some sugar in its blood stream.
So being a naturopath, which means I'm all about prevention, the main question seems to be:
How can we prevent sugar cravings?
As mentioned in my last blog, eating 20-30grams of protein at every meal helps to keep blood sugar levels even, which helps to prevent sugar cravings. Also getting your 7-9 hours of sleep per night, exercising regularly and staying hydrated will help you decrease sugar cravings.
Eating more fat can also help decrease sugar cravings. If you are craving sugar, especially after a meal, eat a spoonful of coconut or unsweetened nut butter.
The trace mineral chromium, which is lacking in many people's diets, helps to prevent sugar cravings and it even helps with sugar metabolism. Try taking 200mcg per meal, or 500mcg 1-2 times daily with meals.
Ashwagandha is a botanical medicine used for years in Ayur Vedic medicine (the traditional medicine of India). It is what we call an adaptogen, because it helps us to "adapt", largely by affecting our cortisol levels. Increased cortisol levels can cause sugar cravings and ashwagandha lowers cortisol levels if they are high.
So what if you still get sugar cravings? Sugar cravings can be like a bad habit. And if you've ever tried to break a habit, you know that distraction can be very helpful. So when a sugar craving hits, remove yourself from the sources of sugar. Go outside: walk; walk your dog; garden. Or go to your bedroom and read or check your email, fold laundry. You can also make it difficult to eat or drink: give yourself a manicure, do dishes, do something crafty.
Once you are engrossed in something, the craving will most likely disappear.
You can also ask yourself if your craving is actually for something else like rest, connection or just to break up the monotony. Then ask yourself what you can do to fulfill the actual craving.