5 Tips to Beat Your Holiday Sugar Cravings
It’s the holiday season again, bringing festive good cheer, celebrations with friends and family and usually more delicious sweet treats than you can handle!
So before we launch into the negative effects of too much sugar (and, of course, give you some healthy alternatives!), we want to give some background of the sugar addictions we have in this culture.
Since the beginning of civilization, sugar has been directly linked to feelings of love, comfort, joy and celebration. The very first thing a baby tastes is their mother’s sweet milk, so we all have a very basic and immediate trigger with sugar and love as well as basic survival. Hunter gatherers didn’t come across many sweet foods; when they did, they knew it meant fat, calories and energy (i.e., survival as well).
So we’re sort of hardwired to crave sweets. We also crave sweets when we’re deficient in certain nutrients, especially chromium, carbon, phosphorus, sulfur and tryptophan. Don’t beat yourself up about sugary indulgences; the guilt and worry is way more toxic to your body (and your mind!) than anything you’re eating. We promise. Let go, savor and enjoy every delicious mouthful, and then make sure you get your greens in to balance it out. Some other tips to follow are:
- When a sugar craving hits, try eating whole fresh fruits, nuts, non-gluten grains, sweet potatoes and dark green leafy vegetables like kale and spinach to balance the body and lessen the cravings.
- Boost overall intake of protein and fats since our bodies are biologically programmed to use those as fuel first. So lots of beans, dark leafy greens, nuts, seeds, coconut, olives and spirulina are all great choices to keep you nourished, satiated and energized. Your body will be able to run longer and more efficiently with these as the primary sources of fuel rather than any kind of sugar that spikes insulin and then quickly brings about a crash and interferes with fat burning.
- Sugar also affects overall immunity by wiping out beneficial bacteria in the gut. So along with taking a strong probiotic during the holiday season (we recommend at least 40 billion organisms daily), it’s good to limit sugar intake as much as possible.
- If you do choose to indulge in sweet things, try choosing ones that minimally spike blood sugar, like whole fresh fruit, coconut nectar and brown rice syrup, or even better, stevia, which is a natural herb that has zero effect on glycemic levels.
- ‘Tis the season for giving, sharing, celebrating and being joyful. Offer tons of gratitude that you’re able to make choices for your most vibrant health and direct your energy toward your friends and family rather than stressing about a few sweet treats.
Life is inherently sweet on its own and you’re one of the sweetest things in it!
Jenny Nelson is a Clean Wellness Coach and Alejandro Junger, M.D. is author of “Clean:The Revolutionary Program to Restore the Body’s Natural Ability to Heal Itself.”
Photo credit: Sharyn Morrow