8 Tips to Curb Sugar Cravings Plus Blood Sugar Balancing Treats
Reducing your sugar intake can seem like a daunting task, especially if you have been relying on sugar and refined carbohydrate for energy. However, if you focus on building balanced meals and keep sweet treats to homemade versions (jump to the recipes now), eliminating sugar will be easy and, dare I say, fun!
Here are 8 tips to balance blood sugar levels and curb sugar cravings once and for all!
1. ENSURE THAT ALL MEALS, SNACKS, DESSERTS AND SMOOTHIES ARE BALANCED.
Include blood sugar stabilizing components such as healthy fats (avocados, nuts and seeds and their butters, coconut oil, grass-fed butter, ghee and olive oil), protein (grass-fed beef, free-range chicken, free-run eggs, fish, nuts, seeds, flax and vegan protein powders) and fiber-rich complex carbohydrates (fruits, vegetables and whole grains). These macronutrients provide sustained and balanced energy preventing sugar cravings. This is the golden rule while preparing any meal!
2. AVOID SNACKING AND HAVE THREE LARGE MEALS A DAY INSTEAD.
This regulates blood sugar levels and balances insulin, curbing sugar cravings and preventing blood glucose sensitive syndromes. These includes Metabolic Syndrome, which is characterized by: insulin resistance, increase triglyceride levels, lower HDL (good) cholesterol, hypertension and abdominal weight-gain and Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS), the leading cause of infertility in women.
3. DRINK "GREEN" FIRST THING IN THE MORNING.
Enjoying a green smoothie, a matcha tea or a glass of chlorophyll water first thing in the morning reduces sugar cravings by altering your taste buds with their bitter flavors. One study found that consuming liquid chlorophyll before a carbohydrate rich meal reduced feelings of hunger. These green foods also alkalize the blood, which support heavy metal detox and digestion.
4. IDENTIFY YOUR SUGAR CRAVINGS.
If you are craving that muffin or cookie because you are tired, take a nap! If it's because you missed breakfast, have a wholesome snack instead, like 2 free-fun eggs, an apple with a tablespoon of nut or seed butter, or a yogurt bowl topped with flax meal, pumpkin seeds, berries and your favorite nuts. Get to the rook of the craving and address the problem there!
5. EAT IN A STRESS-FREE STATE.
This means enjoying your meal at a table, not on the go, and making time for deep breathing before (especially if you are coming from a stressful activity) and after, to increase circulation and improve digestion. No matter how nutritious the meal you create is, if you are not digesting it properly you are not extracting all the vitamins, minerals, amino acids, fatty acids and phytochemicals from your meal, leaving your cells depleted and craving energy soon after.
Also, when you are stressed, hormone Cortisol is released, which inhibits the uptake of glucose to your cells, causing glucose remain circulating in your blood, causing inflammation, insulin resistance and metabolic disorders such as diabetes, obesity and high cholesterol.
6. EAT FERMENTED FOODS
If you've been consuming sugary and carbohydrate-rich foods for some time, chances are your gut is in dysbiosis. Certain "Bad" Bacteria are fed by sugar, which means when you start eliminating sugar from your diet these bacteria will rebel, signaling to your brain to consume more sugar. This tells us two things: One, when you finally cut sugar, cravings may get worse before they get better and, two, you can bring these bacteria back into balance by consuming foods such as yogurt, kimchi, sauerkraut and kombucha and prebiotic fruits and vegetables to increase vegetable-loving "Good" Bacteria that have been pushed to the sidelines. This restores balance to the gut and eliminates cravings.
7. TAKE A FISH OIL SUPPLEMENT.
Consumption of fish oil balances blood sugar levels and provides a source of anti-inflammatory omega-3 which will bring an inflamed sugar-filled body back into balance. Aim for fish oils in their liquid form. Not only are they better absorbed, some diabetics report the glycerin in fish oil capsules increase A1C levels.
8. WHEN YOU DECIDE TO INDULGE, MAKE YOUR OWN BLOOD SUGAR BALANCING TREATS!
Remember to keep them balanced, following the guidelines above. Use natural sweeteners like dates, which are a source of fiber, iron, protein and vitamin A. Maple syrup, in moderation, which contain trace minerals. Raw honey, an antibiotic and gut healing sweetener and fruits which are a source also a source of fiber.
It is also important to keep in mind that excessive, unmanageable or uncontrollable sugar cravings can be an indicator that something deeper is going on! Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, Endocrine Issues/ Hormonal Imbalance as well as Auto-immune and Inflammatory Diseases can all manifest with symptoms of sugar/carbohydrate cravings. If this sounds like you, follow the recommendations above and get to the bottom of the cause by speaking with your homeopath or holistic nutritionist.
Here are couple of sweet treats that contain blood sugar balancing cashews, coconut and sunflower seed butter and natural sweeteners like berries and dates. All of which are rich in fiber helping to detox and curb sugar cravings. Also check out my recipe for Green Monster Matcha Energy Balls which contain blood sugar balancing and metabolism boosting matcha green tea.
Blueberry Lime Bliss Balls
1 cup blueberries
2 cups cashews
20 dates, pitted and soaked (if using Medjool dates, you can get away with using a little less- 12-15 or so)
2 tsps lime zest
1/3 cup shredded coconut
1 tsp vanilla extract
Combine lime zest and coconut and leave to the side for rolling.
Blend cashews in a food processor until it becomes a flour, then add dates and blueberries. Process until fully combined scraping down the side of bowl as needed. This may take a few minutes but keep at it.
Once fully combined, you may need to place it in the refrigerator for 20 mins to firm up. Roll into 1 tsp balls and roll in lime, coconut mixture.
Place in the refrigerator before enjoying. Makes about 30 balls. You can also size them larger (1 tbsp) and yield 12-15 Bliss Balls.
Mint Chocolate Truffles
1 cup shredded coconut
pinch of salt
15 dates, pitted and soaked
2 tbsp of sunflower butter (or sub almond butter)
2 tbsp or raw cocoa powder, plus extra for coating
1/2 tsp of peppermint extract
Blend coconut and salt in a food processor until finely ground.
Then add dates, sunflower butter, cocoa and peppermint. Process until it starts clumping together.
Roll into 1 tsp to 1 tbsp size truffle balls coat extra cocoa powder.
Let set in refrigerator before enjoying. Makes about 30 balls. You can also size them larger (1 tbsp) and yield 12-15 truffles.
* Both recipes inspired by Vegan Bowls for Vegan Souls