Do sugar cravings have you by the neck? If so, here’s MORE advice on how to survive this summer’s line-up of picnics, holiday gatherings, family reunions, office rah-rahs... you get the picture.
Most folks experience sugar cravings. Whether it’s having a taste for something sweet after dinner each night or speeding to the local supermarket for the biggest bag of Swedish Fish you can buy (ask me how I know about this one), sugar cravings are powerful. And the sad truth (informal and formal research has shown), is that once we start to include sugar into our daily routine, it becomes more and more difficult to stop.
We know sugar provides instant energy, and we understand how highly emotional this topic is, especially when it comes to sweets. We often associate sweet foods with love and acceptance, and scientists have looked at our brain chemistry to understand how food can directly affect our “feel-good” neurotransmitters like serotonin. Then there are the other physical causes for sugar cravings, such as hormonal fluctuations, intestinal yeast, and stress.
One piece of advice we get off the Women to Women website from OBGYN, Dr. Marcelle Pick, is to “pre-tox” before we party. Because sugary treats are almost always available at parties and special events, as well as other celebratory hazards that can disrupt even the healthiest lifestyle, she says we should take some simple steps before we indulge, that will help pre-tox our system, and keep us feeling energetic and healthy. Here are Dr. Pick’s favorite four “pre-tox” tips:
1. Don’t skip meals, especially breakfast—
It leads to fasting and feasting’s vicious cycle:
FatigueDigestive ProblemsBlood Sugar/Insulin ComplicationsFuels Cravings
To compensate, PLAN to eat regular meals, full of nutrient-rich fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, along with adequate lean protein to give you the energy you need. Dr. Pick advises cutting back on wheat/gluten intake or completely eliminating these symptom-causing culprits and that we always take a high-quality multivitamin every day before, during, and after special events or parties.
She also suggests that if we do eat sweets, to pair them with some protein to tone down the surge in blood sugar. Her bottom line: if we follow a healthy diet plan most of the time, we can still splurge on a treat here and there and we’ll be less likely to binge.
Physical activity helps give us energy, strength, and stamina. Exercise (even just a brisk 20-minute walk/day) stimulates blood circulation, a key element in healthy detoxification. Good circulation keeps toxins moving along detox pathways and out of the body. Regular exercise also enhances mental clarity and improves sleep.
3. Support liver function—
The liver is our “detoxification specialist,” working continually to neutralize and remove alcohol, toxins, pathogens, and other substances that can make us feel sluggish, fatigued—even sick. The liver also breaks down most of the ingredients in the food we eat. Party treats that contain excess sugar and fat can make the liver work extra hard.
To support this hard-working organ we should eat lots of fruits and vegetables (there’s that advice again!) and choose sulfur-rich foods (eggs, cruciferous veggies) that contribute to the detox process. Dr. Pick advises we take in enough fiber as well, to maintain a healthy balance of gut flora. She also suggests we consider using milk thistle or charcoal capsules (both available in many pharmacies), to help counteract any excess alcohol.
4. Bolster your immune system—
While holidays and celebrations are fun, they can wreck havoc on the immune system. Late nights keep us from getting enough sleep. Too many sugary, high-carb foods don’t provide the nutritious fuel necessary to support the body’s organ systems. Dr. Pick says we counter-act this pattern and fuel a healthy immune system by eating right as often as we can
. She advises we:
Get as much sleep as possible (a pre-party nap does wonders)
Be sure to get enough vitamin D every day (the immune system depends on it
Take 250–500 mg of vitamin C daily.
Dr. Pick suggests we also add probiotics on a regular basis, because they promote digestive balance. This is crucial because most of the immune system is located in the gut.