Detox for Sugar Cravings and Overindulgence
It may be from an overload of Halloween candy, numerous sweets over the holidays, too much fun at a birthday party or a night on the town (alcohol consumption).
Your body’s in turmoil; head pounds with any movement, your hands shake, you can’t get rid of the doldrums and you feel very tired.
The first thing you want to do upon rising is grab a pick-me-up such as coffee, black tea or a sugary boost.
But that’s just it; these are all stimulants and may do more harm than good, especially sugar.
Sugar Cravings – Endorphins, Serotonin & Opioids
Most of us know that eating too many sugary foods may cause health problems like diabetes, obesity and heart disease. An overindulgence of sugar can also set up a vicious cycle of sugar cravings. The blood sugar crashes after consumption, making you crave more sugar for the ‘high’. So you eat more, right! And thus the never-ending cycles begins.
Sugar lifts your mood and energy levels at a very quick speed. Sugar also has the ability to alter your brain chemistry by increasing beta-endorphins and serotonin levels. Although serotonin has many functions in the body, it is renowned for its euphoric and ‘feel good’ properties. But low serotonin levels correlate with depression and fatigue. In effect, when serotonin levels are low the body craves more sugar for increased energy and to regain euphoric pleasure. In fact, the sudden absence of sugar is felt intensely.
In addition, sugary foods release opioids when consumed. Yes, opioids are like opium and heroin. Opioids bind to brain receptors, which triggers feelings of well-being and euphoria. In fact, numerous studies found that the opioids released from sugar may trigger sugar cravings.
Should you Cleanse the Body of Sugar?
However, if you binge often, frequently rely on sugar for extra energy or as a mood lifter, or have severe and long lasting sugar cravings; then you may have an underlying issue like high or low blood sugar. Please; before going on any diet, consult a health care professional. Blood sugar problems can be dangerous and life threatening.
Stop the Vicious Cycle
To prevent sugar cravings you need to keep your blood sugar stable. Make sure to eat at regular intervals, about every 2 or 3 hours. The food you choose is also important. Avoid sugar at all costs! Here are a few healthy food choices:
- Cheese slices and fruit
- Protein powder such as Macaforce(great for smoothies)
- High protein nuts like walnuts, almonds, pistachios and peanuts
Also, replace high carb foods that have low nutrient value with whole grains. For example, substitute white pasta and white rice with foods like barley, brown rice, oats, quinoa and other whole grains. FYI – refined carbohydrates quickly turn into sugar that causes a dramatic spike in insulin. High fiber whole grains fill you up and do not cause intense spikes in insulin.
As well, get rid of artificial sweeteners entirely! Not only are they very unhealthy and can have adverse side effects but they trigger sugar cravings. If you absolutely have to add sweets to your food, try healthier choices like honey, maple syrup or agave nectar in moderation. Other sweeteners that have a lower glycemic index than white sugar include barley malt and molasses.
Other Ways to Flush the Body of Sugar and Prevent Cravings
Drink sufficient amounts of water on a daily basis. About 64 ounces per day is good (8 cups). Anytime you crave sugar, have a glass of filtered water. Generally the sugar craving will go away within a few minutes.
Equally, regular exercise stimulates dopamine in the brain, raises endorphin levels and increases blood calcium. To drastically lower sugar cravings, try 30 to 60 minutes of walking, bicycling, jogging or other forms of exercise daily.
Foods and Herbs that Help Sugar Cravings
These foods may also satisfy your sweet tooth.
Apples – Fruits are naturally sweet and can be effective in fighting sugar cravings.
Apples are one of the best foods for keeping sugar cravings at bay.
This is because they are rich in pectin; have a low glycemic (GI) rating and are rich in fiber to help keep you feeling full much longer. Most of the pectin is in the skin. Make sure to eat the skin and always buy organic!
Bananas – Bananas help keep blood sugar levels stable and are easy to include in your diet. They also have a low GI rating, high potassium level and are the perfect snack when sugar cravings attack you. Bananas are great sliced on oatmeal; help thicken a smoothie and make a tasty sandwich. One of my favorites is sliced bananas, almond butter and a touch of honey or maple syrup on some wholesome bread.
Frozen Grapes – Frozen grapes are a convenient and fabulous treat! Place a bag of grapes in the freezer for whenever you need a quick sweet fix. They are full of vitamin C, vitamin K, fiber, antioxidants and flavonoids. As well, grapes have a low GI level.
Sweet Potatoes or Yams – Sweet potatoes are the perfect food when you need something sweet and substantial. Not only do they satisfy a sugar craving but sweet potatoes are rich in vitamin C, vitamin D, B6 and iron. Plus, you really do not need to add sweeteners. Forget the brown sugar and marshmallows, sweet potatoes are naturally sweet and taste great with a touch of butter.
Tomatoes – This chromium-rich food is one of the best for combating sugar cravings. Chromium is said to help reduce sugar cravings by regulating blood sugar levels. Additionally, tomatoes are a good source of serotonin. Since some research suggests that low serotonin levels can contribute to sugar cravings, tomatoes are a great option. Tomatoes are also high in vitamin C, vitamin K and are an excellent antioxidant.
Chicory Greens – Another useful food that helps with sugar cravings are chicory greens. According to ancient Chinese medicine, bitter-tasting foods like chicory can reduce sugar cravings. It is believed that sugar cravings are caused by lack of bitter like foods. Chicory greens are also a good source of B6 and a recognized nutrient for fighting cravings (sugar, salt, alcohol, etc.).
Oats – Oats are one of the highest ranking foods for satiety (keeps you full). Unlike other carbohydrates, oats digest slowly and keep your blood sugar stable. In addition, oats are a great source of zinc and B vitamins.
Cinnamon – The amazing properties of cinnamon help fight sugar cravings. In fact, it is said that cinnamon can balance insulin levels and satisfy sugar cravings. Cinnamon may also prevent blood sugar spikes (the nasty bugger that causes cravings) by normalizing blood sugar levels. For more information on cinnamon see: Health Benefits of Cinnamon
A Healthy Granola Bar – Not all granola bars are created alike; in sugar content or taste. In truth, many granola bars are loaded in sugar, even the organic ones. However, there are some healthy granola bars that can help tame your sugar cravings. They contain nuts, protein and other healthy ingredients. Here are a few low sugar treats:
Chai Tea – Again, not all chai teas are created equally. Some contain very high amounts of sugar. In truth, there is a certain concentrated brand I no longer drink because it gives me intense migraines for days afterwards (from the surplus sugar).
Alternatively, indulge in a low sugar chai tea when cravings are driving you wild.
Chai tea is very soothing yet stimulating at the same time. A great pick-me-up when sugar blues has got you down.
There are various types of chai tea, e.g. green, black, rooibos, etc.
You can also buy loose leaf tea, choice chai in teabags and even concentrate.
Drink chai tea hot or cold, black or with cream (whole milk or milk substitute like coconut milk). Here are a few great brands that will even satisfy coffee connoisseurs!
- Yogi Chai Green
- Numi Chai Black Tea
- India Tulsi Tea Chai Massala
- Tazo Tea Chai Concentrate
- Rishi Organic Concentrate Masala Chai Tea
- Third Street Chai concentrate, Decaffeinated
Gymnema Sylvestre – According to Prevention magazine, gymnema seems to help with sugar cravings. This vine, native to India is locally called “Sugar Destroyer”. It is used in Ayurvedic medicine to support blood sugar regulation. Amazingly, Gymnema tricks the body into copying glucose molecules and blocks cell receptors to the intestine so you don’t absorb sugar. In addition, the herb has a very potent and interesting effect on the taste buds. It will dull the senses to sugar for about 15-20 minutes after you take a few drops of tincture. For instance, when you eat honey the sweetness is gone and all you can taste is the beeswax. Since Gymnema works only when it comes in contact with the tongue, capsules and pills are not effective. Try Gymnema is tincture or Extract form.
The statements enclosed herein have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. The products and information mentioned in this article are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. Information and statements made are for education purposes and are not intended to replace the advice of a healthcare professional. Before starting any diet, seek expert advice.
Sugar skulls: Sugary Skulls via photopin (license)
Sugar tong in sugar: Sugar tong in sugar via photopin (license)
Sugar in amber glass: Lemon Sugar via photopin (license)
Sugar and ants: DSC_1469 via photopin (license)
Raw sugar: Demerara sugar crystals via photopin (license)
Sugar cubes in metal/glass bowl: Sugar via photopin (license)
Sugar cubes in rose cup: sugar bowl via photopin (license)
Bowl of apples: Study #31 – Have an Apple via photopin (license)
Frozen grapes on plate: Frozen grapes via photopin (license)
Oats in bowl: Oatmeal via photopin (license)
Chai tea: #6031 chai via photopin (license)