If you’re reading this, chances are you suffer from sugar cravings. If so, you’re in luck.
In this edited extract from her new book Women’s Wellness Wisdom, nutritional biochemist, women’s health guru and all-round genius Dr Libby Weaver uncovers the surprising reasons why we crave sugar. And how to overcome them.
You would have to have had your head buried in the sand not to know that eating refined sugars does not serve your health in any way. Yet, even with great understanding of this topic and even with the desire to change dietary sugar habits, many people find it hard to resist.
So why is it that we crave sugar so much?
One reason is certainly habit. Another is its infiltration into the food supply, even into savoury-tasting foods, and a taste preference for sweeter and sweeter foods is also playing a role.
Yet what most people are not familiar with is the impact of the biochemistry – of stress hormone production – on sugar cravings.
There are only two fuels for the human body: glucose and fat.
And when you are living on stress hormones, your body predominantly uses glucose as its fuel, not body fat.
The more your body thinks it needs to use glucose as your fuel to help you escape from danger, the more it needs to keep your “get out of danger” fuel tank full. So you crave it to support yet another survival mechanism.
Too many people in the Western world today regularly over-consume caffeine, feel pressured about their work, money, relationships or their body, and feel like all of their tasks are urgent. And many people have become so accustomed to living this way that they don’t even notice how stressed they are anymore.
When you live like this, your body will predominantly use glucose as a fuel.
It will only switch back to being an efficient fat-burner if you make some changes.
You can start by focusing on activating your parasympathetic nervous system (PNS), which means embracing diaphragmatic breathing. This may take the form of restorative yoga, t’ai chi, meditation, or simply taking regular intervals across the day where you commit to 20 long, slow breaths that move your belly as you breathe.
The calmer you feel, the more your PNS is activated, and the less sugar your body will need to keep the glucose fuel tank full.
If you crave sugar, you might like to try some of the following tips:
- Eat whole food fat at the meal before you crave sugar. Fat is incredibly satiating, and you’ll notice it will fuel you for longer through your afternoon.
- Have subtly sweet food on hand that serves your health for the time you know the cravings set in.
- Amp up your greens! Bitter-tasting foods, such as green veggies, help quell our desire for and enjoyment of excessive amounts of sweet food.
- Decrease adrenalin production, so your body feels “safe” to use body fat as a fuel. This means getting honest with yourself about how much caffeine you are having. You will also need to explore your perception of pressure and urgency, and save it for when you really need it.
- Activate the PNS by embracing long, slow diaphragmatic breaths.
Find out more about Dr Libby’s clinic, books and events at DrLibby.com.