What Your Body Goes Through & How to Combat Cravings When Giving Up
Let’s face it – most of us enjoy sweet and sugary foods. Whether it’s desserts, cakes, biscuits or sweets. Biting into a chocolate donut, or helping yourself to the last truffle, has a huge amount of pleasure, both mentally and particularly on your taste buds. You experience a ‘high’ especially if you have been craving something sweet for even only a short period of time.
Not everything is obvious about sugar. If it’s not covered in chocolate, or sprinkles or a sugar crust, it doesn’t mean that there isn’t some ‘sneaky’ hidden sugar contained within, just waiting to pounce on your body.
This type of sugar is known as ‘free sugars’ found in all types of cakes and pastries, drinks, syrups and even honey. This is as detrimental to your health as heaping lots of sugar into your cappuccino, or spooning some over your cereal. There is absolutely no goodness in added sugar, and whilst it will temporarily increase your energy level, it is also putting on those unwanted pounds through the calorific content and potentially rotting your teeth.
The recommended daily allowance of ‘free sugars’ is still high at around the equivalent of 7 cubes or 7 teaspoons for adults, with considerably less for toddlers and children.
Sugar Cravings – Feel like addiction?
Sugar cravings can almost feel like an addiction, and your body and mind may be telling you that you have ‘withdrawal symptoms’. Sugar cravings can be caused both by mental and physical reasons. Rumour has it that the worst time of the day when your desire to throw the nearest sugary item down your throat, is around 3pm. Sugar cravings are not new in the 21st century, they in fact go way back to the Stone Age period! Of course there were no donuts or chocolate around then, but then with primal foodstuffs being milk, honey and fruit, there was no danger of obesity. Dr David Katz, a respected authority on diets and sugar confirms this.
A helping hand for sugar cravings
Fortunately, help is at hand; there is several methods to conquering cravings when cutting sugar from your diet. Changing your diet to lower-burning foods, protein-based foods should reduce your cravings, as well as assisting in weight loss. Therefore eating plans such as the Atkins and Paleo diets are increasingly popular. A sizable element of these diets is water, and you should be drinking as many clear fluids as possible. Even though the necessity to consume 8 glasses a day may have been exposed as false, often when your brain is telling you that you are craving sugar, you could be dehydrated instead.
It’s not just about diet, however; those pleasure hormones, also known as serotonin, can be acquired naturally through exercise. This, in turn, can improve your general mental wellbeing. Alternatively, if you have an iron will, cold turkey could be the way to go. Much like nicotine, the first 72 hours may feel torturous, but the human body is remarkably adaptable and cravings should subside soon afterward. Like so many things, it’s a matter of re-training your brain and its expectations. Meditation and breathing techniques can be very helpful in the first 72 hours. So, can distraction. It is worth familiarizing yourself with a few techniques before embarking on the cold turkey route. It is also worth completely removing all sugar from your home to put an extra step between you and the sugar i.e. instead of just going to your cupboard and eating; you will now have to go out to the store and buy something first.
Sugar is sometimes a necessary evil, and if we are to enjoy a balanced diet a small amount of sweetness contained within carbohydrates and naturally occurring sugars can be valuable. Consumed in moderation, sugar can be a positive influence on your life; just be mindful not to allow the cravings to consume you.
Sugar cravings from mineral deficiencies
Scientists have also determined that deficiency in certain minerals can also cause sugar cravings. There are four main culprits:
Carbon – this is contained in sugar
Sulphur – an active agent in decreasing levels of toxins in the body
Chromium – aids in balancing blood sugar levels
Phosphorus – our cells use this to produce energy
Tryptophan – active agent in converting to serotonin
Magnesium – which particularly indicates a chocolate craving
Basically, this means that with due process, these minerals should be included in your everyday dietary intake to combat and minimize sugar cravings. It is possible to find these minerals in a variety of unhealthy foods, but they are best optimized in foods such as natural whole foods (unprocessed). Vegetables, fruit, nuts, whole grains and legumes are all whole foods, and should in any event, be included in your dietary intake.
About the Author
Kelly Crawford is passionate about health, well being, running and minimalist. As a competitive runner, she has insight into the struggles of balancing work-outs with good nutrition and injury prevention. She is a contributing writer for HardBoiledBody.com – a site dedicated to health, nutrition and fitness advice.