The season of parties, celebratory meals with extra sweet food and alcohol is upon us.
Here are some of my favorite suggestions that I often recommend to my clients to help reduce sugar cravings during the holidays or any other time throughout the year:
Apple Cider Vinegar – 1 TBS of apple cider vinegar in 8 oz of water 1-2 times a day has been shown to be an energy and blood sugar stabilizer, a digestion booster, an appetite crusher and a weight loss aid all of which can curb sugar cravings. It helps! I do it every day!
Branch Chain Amino Acids (BCAAs) – Are found in proteins, but you can take BCAAs in supplement form. BCAAs lower cortisol which has an overlapping ability to suppress stress-induced cravings and blunt hunger. BCAAs also have the ability to help the brain balance its chemistry because they are precursors to the brain’s number one stimulating brain chemical (glutamate) and its number one relaxing chemical (GABA). Therefore BCAAs can really help with cravings.
L-Glutamine – Julia Ross M.A. author of The Diet Cure, says L-Glutamine can stop sugar craving in their tracks. She recommends taking 500 mg 3-4 times per day, usually during the times when blood sugar is the lowest and, or when you’re craving sugar or alcohol around 3-5 p.m. Sometimes “Happy Hour” turns out to be not so happy.
Magnesium – One of the most depleted minerals in the body is magnesium and if you frequently crave sugar your body may be telling you it needs extra magnesium. Supplementing with magnesium can help buffer stress and it also helps your body respond to sugar better so you don’t get extreme highs and lows from when you do ingest sugar.
Build your meals around adequate protein, healthy fats and a ton of vegetables – Animal or vegetarian protein, whichever you prefer and then omega 3 fats (fish oil, flax seeds, chia seeds) and coconut oil, avocados, olive oil, etc with lots of fibrous vegetables – the more colorful the better.
Drink water – Mild dehydration can increase your sugar cravings. Drink half your body weight in ounces of water daily, or drink 100 ounces of water each day, whichever comes first. Up-level your water intake even more by adding fresh lemon juice and a pinch of sea salt. This becomes a natural electrolyte drink and helps to balance your pH levels. Increasing the alkalinity in your body can help curb cravings. I drink lemon water first thing every morning. You body is thirsty from your nights sleep. It needs it. The lemon helps to wake you up!
Do a HIIT workout – It’s 20 minutes, three times a week, no equipment needed, you can do it anywhere. It’s effective and gets results. This short burst exercise program brings cortisol (stress hormone) and insulin (fat storing hormone) down. When those hormones are reduced hunger and cravings come down as well. Whereas longer duration cardio sessions can have the opposite effect.
Focus on sweet experiences, not sweet food – Seek out and inhale the positive moments in your life. Make an effort to create pleasure and enjoyment. Watch a sunset, play with your kids or grandkids, call your sister( I am lucky enough to have three), have an uplifting conversation with a good friend, engage in a fun hobby or take a walk!
Physical activity is critical for weight loss and maintenance. Many people think that weight loss is a result ONLY of reducing what goes in your mouth. But evidence shows the only way to keep the weight off is with regular physical activity AND watching what you eat. That said, what you eat does not need to be "reduced". You just need to eat the right things.
Drink water. WATER-not soda. Hunger is often confused with dehydration.
Eat carbs: real carbs! Replace refined carbs like white bread, pasta,bagels, cereal, and pretzels with complex carbs like fruits, veggies, whole grains,nuts, seeds and legumes. Fruits and veggies are high in fiber, which slows digestion and promotes stable blood sugar levels.Complex carbs are also packed with antioxidants that help reduce inflammation in the body. Think about eating foods in their most natural forms. For example, breads are made from wheat that's milled, while brown rice is simply taken from the plant-complete with fiber and phytonutrients-the way Mother Nature intended they be eaten!
Choose healthy fats such as nuts, seeds, fish, avocados, and extra virgin olive oil.
Choose lean protein. Many foods include protein, but the richest sources include animal products, dairy, eggs and fish as well as plant sources like beans, nuts, and seeds.
Eat breakfast. You'll give your metabolism a jumpstart.
Exercise! Just move that body!