The Root Cause of Sugar Cravings Part 2 (Energy Quick Fix & Dehydration)


Energy Quick Fix

Have you ever said “I want something sweet”, but couldn’t pinpoint what or why? Cravings for sugar or refined carbohydrates can happen when our body needs an energy fix.  Our body can extract energy from sugar very quickly, and is therefore the “food of choice” when a quick fix is needed.

To avoid the need for an energy quick fix, eat for sustained energy. Eat meals that are low in glycemic load – whole unprocessed foods such as whole grains, vegetables, and beans are great choices. They are high in fiber, which moderates the speed at which the sugar is absorbed by the body. Also, make sure you include a moderate amount of good fat and lean protein to slow down stomach emptying and increase satiety.

To support the body’s energy production, increase intake of foods rich in vitamin Bs – they are vital in our body’s energy production cycle. Good choices are whole grains, wheat germ, and brewer’s yeast.

Dehydration

Cravings and fatigue can be caused by dehydration. Our body often misinterprets the sensation of thirst as hunger. Next time when you feel your cravings coming on, drink a glass of water, wait 15 minutes, and see if you are still hungry.

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The Root Cause of Sugar Cravings Part 1 (Yin/Yang Imbalance)

When it comes to sugar, it is not simply that we don’t have the willpower or discipline to control our cravings – there are some deeper, physiological and biological reasons behind our urge.

What I will do [in this series] is to help you understand why you have those uncontrollable cravings, and what we can do to reduce them naturally and gradually over time. When we understand the reason behind those cravings, we have a much better chance to outsmart them and curb them using ways other than sugar.

First, let’s look at the concept of Yin/Yang balance.

Eating foods that throw our body out of balance can create food cravings. It is very helpful to look at this idea under the lens of Yin/Yang balance. We can put all our foods along the Yin/Yang spectrum. Yin foods are the ones that are cool and expanding in nature, while Yang foods are ones that are warm and contracting in nature.

When we eat too much Yang foods – such as red meat, salt and egg, our body will want some Yin foods to restore balance. Sugar and alcohol are extreme Yin foods that our body would usually crave.

Armed with this knowledge, you can reduce your sugar cravings by eating less extreme yang foods and instead, choose foods that are more neutral on the Yin/Yang spectrum. Examples are: whole grains, fish, sea vegetables, beans, root vegetables, and winter squash.

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The Root Cause to Sugar Cravings Part 3 (Nutrient Deficiency & Low Protein Intake)

Nutrient Deficiency

Cravings can be a sign of nutrient deficiency. Cravings for different flavor or texture can translate to a lack of various nutrients. If you crave sugary food, you may look into deficiencies in chromium, sulfur and the amino acid tryptophan.

Chromium is abundant in brewer’s yeast, as well as beef, liver, whole wheat, rye, fresh chilies, oysters, onions, potatoes, tomatoes, wheat germ, green bell peppers, eggs, chickens, apples, butter, bananas, and spinach. Sulfur is readily available in protein foods – meat, fish, poultry, eggs, milk and legumes are all good sources. Egg yolks are one of the best sources of sulfur. Tryptophan is an amino acid readily available in animal foods, eggs, dairy products, and some nuts and seeds, and is particularly rich in turkey meat.

Chromium supplement has been found to help some people suppress their sugar cravings. [If you work with supplements you can make a recommendation here.]

Low Protein Intake

If you have a relatively low protein diet and tend to crave sugar and feel fatigue easily, try increasing your protein intake, or experiment with the type of protein in your diet.

Besides meat, fish and milk, you can try nuts and seeds, good quality cheese in moderate amount, as well as eggs, yogurt and beans. For vegetarians, and particularly vegan, pay more attention to food combining to get a complete protein profile from various plant sources.

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Food Cravings and What They Mean

Cravings can be a way that your body is telling you something.  Honor your cravings by getting to the root cause of it, and find out what your body really needs. Here are some possible nutrient deficiencies associated with different kinds of food cravings, and healthy food choices that will provide the nutrients that may be lacking, helping you curb your cravings.

Cravings, Possible Nutrient Deficiencies, Healthy Foods to try:

Bread/toast Nitrogen – try high protein foods such as fish, meat, nuts, and beans.

Oily snacks, fatty foods Calcium – try mustard and turnip greens, broccoli, kale, legumes, and cheese.

Coffee or teaSulfur – try egg yolks, red peppers, muscle protein, garlic, onion, cruciferous vegetables.

Burned foods Carbon – try fresh fruits.

Soda and other carbonated drinksCalcium – try mustard and turnip greens, broccoli, kale, legumes, and cheese.

Salty foodsChloride – try raw goat’s milk, fish, and unrefined sea salt.

Acid foodsMagnesium – try raw nuts and seeds, legumes, and fruits.

Cool drinksManganese – try walnuts, almonds, pecans, pineapple, and blueberries.

Cravings related to PMS Zinc – try red meats (especially organ meats), seafood, leafy vegetables, and root vegetables.

What’s Wrong with Sugar?

Refined table sugar, also called sucrose, is extracted from either sugar cane or beets and then refined. During the process, it is stripped of its vitamins, minerals and fiber. It actually requires extra effort from the body to digest and assimilate. The body must deplete its own store of minerals and enzymes to absorb sucrose properly. Therefore, instead of providing the body with nutrition, refined sugar creates deficiencies. Sugar has a lot of negative health impacts: it can suppress the immune system, weaken eyesight, cause hypoglycemia, cause weight gain, exacerbate arthritis, contribute to the development of osteoporosis, increase cholesterol, lead to prostate and ovarian cancer, contribute to development of diabetes, speed up skin aging, increase fluid retention, cause poor concentration, and lead to mood swings and depression. Sugar is also related to ADD and ADHD, in both adults and children. If sugar causes us so much trouble, why are we still hooked? The reason is, sugar is an addictive substance, because: 1. Eating even a small amount creates a desire for more; and 2. Sudden quitting causes withdrawal symptoms such as headaches, mood swings, cravings and fatigue. It is important to realize that sugar is an addictive substance – just like caffeine and even alcohol – because then psychologically you won’t blame yourself for being “weak” and give up when you try to “quit” and fall off the wagon. It’s not just about willpower – your cravings have a physical cause and [in subsequent articles/blog posts] I am going to teach you the tools so that you can get to the root cause of your cravings, and wean off your intake gradually and painlessly.

Recipe- Steamed Kale

Prep time: 5 minutes
Cooking Time: 15 minutes
Serves 4

1 bunch of kale
2 cups water
Pinch sea salt

– Put water, salt and a steamer basket in a medium-size pot and heat on high.

– Wash kale.

– Remove leaves from stems and cut or tear leaves in any size you like.

– Chop the stems into 1/2 inch pieces, discarding the bottom as it tends to be tough.

– When the water is boiling, add the stems to the pot, cover, and cook for one minute.

– Now add the leaves, cover, lower the heat, and steam for another 2-4 minutes. Leaves should be wilted, yet bright green. Carefully remove the steamer basket and transfer kale to a
serving dish.