Why are we so attached to sugar? Why the cravings? The binges? That absolute need that only sugar or carbs will seem to fix?
I know sugar is in everything these days and it’s apparently more addictive than cocaine, but there’s more to it; we pretty much know that clean eating is the thing to do — protein, plant food, organic when you can and lots of greens. Many us try to do this on a daily basis, but a lot of the time we’re fighting the sugar (or carb) demon.
Some thoughts as to why we ‘need’ sugar and carbs and what to do about it:
FIRSTLY – We’re overloaded with stress hormones (Cortisol, Noradrenalin and Adrenalin) on a daily basis. Because this is our life and we’re pretty much in “Flight or Fight” mode most of the time – it’s simply a reality. We’re often running madly from one task to the next, always thinking of that next thing that needs to be done. And we’re not actually ‘present’ in our own lives. Add to this the constant connection to our computers, smart phones and iPads. It all increases stress hormones. And stress hormones make our blood sugar really unstable. When our blood sugar level drops really fast, which it can do on a regular basis, any time of the day or night, a sugar hit is often the only way to feel normal again. (Enter vicious cycle #1.)
SECONDLY – When we crave or need sugar, our bodies and our minds are craving a ‘change of state’. For example, we want to go from ‘work mode’ to ‘relax mode’, or from ‘stress mode’ to ‘calm mode’, or from ‘sad mode’ to ‘happy mode’. And because we feel that we have no time to do something that naturally changes our state, like a bath or a walk or deep breathing or a soothing herbal tea, or a hug from a loved one, we do the quickest and easiest thing (which feels like a good thing at the time) to change our state – we have a sugar or carb hit, and for a short period of time we feel better… until we feel tired, grumpy and overwhelmed again. (Enter vicious cycle #2)
So what can we do?
There’s no short answer but here’s what I think…
1. Work on neutralising stress hormones and nourishing our nervous systems.
The right herbs and supplements help a lot. Some of my favourite herbs are Rhodiola, Magnolia, Lavendula, St John’s Wort and Astragalus. And my “go-to” supplements are Magnesium, Activated B-Vitamins and Vitamin C.
2. Calm the sugar imbalance freight train
My favourite things:
Chromium – a mineral that stops sugar cravings and helps your pancreas do a better job of maintaining your blood sugar levels.
Oils – lots of oils. Coconut oil, flax oil, fish oil, avocado oil, olive oil, butter and ghee. We need to be adding more oils and good fats into every meal.
Plus, there’s nothing like a tablespoon (or capsule if you can’t handle the texture) of coconut oil to kill sugar cravings dead and keep you balanced until the next meal.
3. One of the hardest (but best) things to start doing.
When we’re craving that thing that will make it all better (which is normally a sugar or carb hit) just stop for a minute, breathe in and out, deeply and slowly, put your hand on your heart and connect with it, then ask, “what does my body really want or need right now? What am I truly craving and what will make me feel balanced again?”
And try as hard as you can to do this ‘thing’ first, before anything else. Eventually this ritual will become a habit, and we will start to heal our relationship with sugar and carbs.