By Jessica Sepel
There it is again – the deep, dark craving for an ice cream sundae. A real one. You know – loaded with the good stuff. Rich hot fudge. Creamy caramel syrup. Fluffy whipped cream. Colourful sprinkles. Bright red cherry on top.
Ice cream is one of life’s simple pleasures, and you know I believe in indulging once in a while. But thinking about ice cream, cookies, cake, candy and other sugary treats on a regular basis is challenging, and it’s telling you that something bigger is going on in your body.
To get to the root of sugar cravings, it’s important to understand the physiology behind it. Unfortunately, many people ride the blood sugar rollercoaster. When we ingest high-GI foods – often processed and refined foods like candy, cookies and cake – we release glucose, causing a rapid spike in our blood sugar levels. Some of that glucose is used for energy, but our body only needs a bit of it to function. The excess is stored as – you guessed it – fat. After the glucose is distributed (and blood sugar spikes) we quickly crash and experience fatigue, irritation and hunger. When energy is low, we naturally crave sugar and carbs to pick us back up. And the cycle continues.
Balancing the blood sugar rollercoaster is possible, and it’s not as scary as you might think.
Enjoy low-GI foods (like veggies, protein, whole grains, fruits and fats) to allow for the slow release of energy
Eat protein with each meal
Eat 5-6 small meals a day
Add healthy fats to your meal, especially lunch
Include a healthy, protein-rich snack between meals
Avoid sugar and refined carbs – white bread, pasta, candy – these are the worst offenders!
Avoid soda, fruit juice and artificial sweeteners like the plague
Manage stress – stress hormones, adrenaline and cortisol, are directly linked to blood sugar
Try to get to the root of your cravings. What are you really hungry for? Since sweets are often associated with joy (like birthdays and holidays), many people crave sugar when they are unhappy. We think a cookie will make us feel better, but often it just leads to guilt and a blood sugar crash.
When I’m craving something sweet, I either make myself a yummy alternative or I do something else that makes me happy – reading a good book, chatting with a girlfriend, or taking a bath.
Some of my favorite low-sugar treats that help beat cravings:
2-3 squares of 70-80% dark chocolate
1 cup Greek yogurt with stevia and cinnamon
1-2 dates filled with almond butter
Homemade bliss ball with nuts, dates, cacao and cinnamon
Herbal tea with stevia and cinnamon
Give your taste buds some time to adjust to things with less processed sugar – before you know it, healthy treats that are naturally sweet will taste just as decadent and satisfying.