Lately, all I hear when it comes to sugar is the word “addicted.” Can you really be addicted to sugar? I know it can feel that way when you can’t seem to stop craving it. There is a scientific reason why once you start, it’s hard to stop. It’s not a true “addiction” in the same sense of the word that most people know. It’s more of a vicious cycle that can be really tough to get out of!
Why Is It So Hard to Stop?
As I said before, it’s not true addiction- it’s a cycle. When you eat something that has sugar, your blood sugar rises and falls. This is natural, and it’s not a bad thing. The cycle starts when you eat something that spikes your blood sugar real high and real fast. This causes your insulin to spike, which then causes your blood sugar to crash. The crash is what then causes your next craving, so you eat more sugar. And the cycle continues.
What NOT To Do
So lots of people will try to claim that cutting out carbs is the answer. It seems to make sense because if you don’t eat something with sugar, then you don’t get the blood sugar spike right? But what is forgotten in this case, is that you still need an even and stable blood sugar. If you cut out carbs completely, then your blood sugar will be too low, ultimately causing the restrict-binge cycle.
I’m sure you’re acutely aware of this pattern- you’re really “disciplined” until you’re not and then you feel like you completely ruin the hard work. That’s the restrict-binge cycle, and it’s not caused by your own failure or lack of self control. It’s caused by deprivation. It’s not human nature to purposefully deprive ourselves. And it’s definitely not human nature to be “perfect” and “disciplined” ALL the time. It’s also caused by your blood sugar not being stable. You need carbs in order to keep your blood sugar stable, which means, you need carbs to prevent sugar “addiction”.
How to Stop the Sugar Cycle
There are 4 major things you need to know to do this:
- Always include a carb with EVERY meal and EVERY snack. You should not save up all your carbs for one meal. They need to split relatively evenly throughout the day. Does this mean you need to stress and count out gram for gram at each meal and snack- definitely not. But just make sure that you have approximately the same servings at each meal and snack throughout the day. Use your hunger as a guide for portioning, don’t get too hung up on measurements.
- Aim to consume high fiber carbs, like fruit, starchy vegetables like corn, peas, and potatoes, or whole grains. The fiber doesn’t enter your bloodstream and will fill you up faster, so that your blood sugar is less affected.
- Always include a protein with every single carb– no matter what kind of carb it is. It could be a fruit, a whole grain, or it could be something like candy or a baked good- eat it with a protein. Don’t cut out the protein thinking you’re saving calories. In the long run, you’re not. Because without the protein, your blood sugar will spike and begin the cycle over again, causing you to overeat and continue to eat sugary things.
- Last but not least, aim to not go longer than 4 hours between meals. As I mentioned before, your blood sugar is supposed to go up and down with each meal. It naturally comes down after a meal, taking between 2 and 4 hours to do so (if following the first 3 guidelines). But after that 4h ours, your blood sugar will be back to low and you want to eat before it gets so low that your body feels deprived and tries to compensate by craving something sugary. So this guideline is about prevention. Prevent the craving by being sure to eat before you’re starving- every 2-4 hours.
How Controlling Your Blood Sugar Will Change Your Life!
Doing these things will:
- help stabilize your blood sugar throughout the day,
- boost your energy and your metabolism,
- help you manage stress better and be more productive, and prevent sugar cravings.
You are still human, so you may still want something sweet, especially your favorite. That’s ok mamas, there’s no harm in a little indulgence! Just pair it with a little protein like nuts or peanut butter or milk, try not to be starving when you do indulge, and then just enjoy it and move on.