Sugar, Cravings, and Other Nutrition Busters

Posted: December 12, 2013 in Nutrition
Tags: , , , ,

Anyone who has tried to “diet” or clean up their nutrition can usually get off to a fairly good start.  We’re motivated to make a change and that first day or two seems somewhat easy.  We may even be really good and manage to stay on track for weeks or even months.  Then what happens?  We might not be getting enough sleep, we’re stressed at our jobs, and now is the toughest time of all…the holidays!  So what do many of us do?  We start to cave….a little nibble of this, a couple of bites of that, and maybe an extra cheat meal or four.  The cravings kick in…once we get started, the downward spiral begins.  It’s ok bro, I’m bulking! 😉

Now, I’m not a nutrition expert but I do know that sugar can be addictive for some.  An overload of sugar will actually affect the brain.  Simple sugars and sweets will cause a rapid rise in blood sugar….and then, the dreaded crash; this sets you up for a pattern of more cravings and poor eating.  Enough about that…what the heck are we supposed to do?  Never eat a donut again?

Break the cycle!  Can you do it cold turkey?  Sure, but for many this is not a long-term solution.  A quick fix, yes.  Will you lose some weight, absolutely.  But here’s the thing.  It’s just too drastic for most people.  It can be a set-up for binge-eating and lead you back to your old ways.  So, here are some tips for getting sugar out of the way of your goals:

  • Baby steps:  Pick one thing a week to cut out.  Soda drinker?  This is one of the best places to start.  Swap out your soda for water, unsweetened tea, or anything else calorie and sugar free.  DO NOT switch to diet!  Diet sodas won’t help you break your cravings for sweets.  Same goes for artificial sweeteners.  After a few weeks, your taste and cravings for sugar will decrease.  Eat more fruit when you are craving something sweet.  Keep removing sugar a little at a time – put a little less in your coffee or tea each week and it becomes easier.  Once the sugar has been out for awhile, those sweet things no longer taste the same.
  • Make sure you are getting enough protein:  protein won’t spike your blood sugar as sweets will, digests a bit slower, and may help you feel full longer.  Have a chocolate protein shake or pudding in place of “the real deal”…I blend my Top Secret Nutrition 100% Whey with ice and almond milk (makes it nice and thick) and place it in the freezer for a bit.  It’s my version of a “Frosty”.
  • Fiber!:  Whole grains, fruits, and vegetables; again, great for keeping your blood sugar levels more stable and keeping you full.
  • Exercise:  Enough said!
  • Get enough sleep:  I’ve said this in previous posts, but lack of sleep will trigger your cravings.
  • Drink enough water:  Hunger and cravings are often misinterpreted.  Make sure you are getting enough water based on your size, the weather, and activity level.  Feeling hungry or craving something?  Drink first and then re-assess.
  • If you absolutely have to have that donut and you’ve done everything in your power to avoid it….cut it in half or have just a few bites.  Sometimes, when you don’t give in (i.e. you’re being way too strict)…you become obsessed with that donut and the longer you hold out, the worse it will be.  One donut turns to 2, then maybe a piece of chocolate, your kid’s leftover cookie crumbs….you get the point!

In no particular order, I am also going to list what I call some other “nutrition-busters”:

  • Not eating enough – if you’re eating very low calorie and exercising intensely, this is a recipe for disaster.
  • Portion size – even if you’re eating all the “right stuff”, too much of it will still make you gain weight.  I suggest weighing or measuring for a short period of time so that you are able to get a better understanding of correct portion size.  You don’t need to do it forever (unless you want to), just long enough to be able to judge proper portions.
  • Nighttime eating – you’ve been spot-on with your eating during the day; it’s now after dinner and you decide to sit down in front of the TV for a little bit.  A scoop of peanut butter here, a few pretzels there…soon enough, you easily add another 600-800 calories of mindless eating to your day.  Sound familiar?  It certainly does to me!  What is it about the evening that makes us crave?  There are numerous reasons including hormonal fluctuations (including the feeding/satiety hormones ghrelin and leptin), environment, and additional sensory stimulation (hello Food Network, fast-food commercials…).  What has worked for me:  herbal tea, an evening workout, writing these blogs (can’t eat if I’m too busy typing ;-)), and having a healthy alternative if I’m truly hungry (I tend to have one late-night meal before going to bed anyway).  My latest experiment that I just started this week….intermittent fasting/feeding.  I’m shifting my eating schedule to allow more evening calories…stay tuned for this one!
Comments
  1. musclemyke says:

    Great tips! I think many people forget about ensuring they get enough fiber in their diet. I try to eat tons of broccoli, apples and carrots, which have a lot of fiber in it. Fiber keeps the stomach full and keeps the digestive system functioning normal.

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