I’m a sugarholic! 5 ways to get out of that 3pm sugar trap!
Many people make amazing food choices for breakfast and lunch, and then come 3pm (or after dinner, or both!), it is as if someone else has taken over their body and turned them into a total sugarholic!! The sugar cravings and subsequent consumption of sugar kick in, and they’ve lost all control, despite the best intentions.
How does this happen for too many people, who know these foods don’t serve their bodies – day after day? I have shared five of the most common reasons I’ve found to be true when working with clients in my online nutrition practice.
Before we go into the tips, here is a quick overview on why from an early age, we are hard-wired to love sugar.
We are born with a preference for sweet foods, a natural sweet tooth. To our early ancestors, foods that were sweet indicated that they were a good source of energy, while bitterness was considered to be an indication of toxicity. However, access to sweet foods was limited.
When you pause to think about it, nature has made it relatively difficult for us to access sweet food, other than fruit. A stalk of sugar cane has a very hard outer shell that mostly requires machinery which has only been available since the industrial revolution of the 18th and 19th centuries – to access with ease. Humans have been on the planet for 150,000 years, so the period of time throughout which we’ve had access to such refined foods is relatively small when you consider the time humans have actually been on the planet!
You can’t just walk up to the sugar cane plant and drink from it. The liquid inside the sugar cane, the cane juice, is sweet but not intensely so, and it is rich in B-group vitamins and magnesium, as well as a host of other nutrients. The white sugar on the supermarket shelves, sucrose, has been refined many times from the time it was cane juice to when it arrives as white ganules, and during this process all of the nutrients that were originally present are destroyed. What is most surprising is just how far this substance has invaded the modern diet.
So when we have our moment of ‘weakness’ (which I like to call being human) and crave something sweet, we have such a spectrum of foods to choose from, available from our office canteen, convenience stores, or in our kitchen cupboards. No foraging required, we can get these foods all year round, irrespective of the season.
One last fact….
Taste buds renew every 10-14 days and because of this short renewal time we can train our taste buds to enjoy food with less sweetness in a relatively short space of time!
By making a switch from highly refined sugars to sweetness from nature and hence decreasing the intensity of the sweet flavour, you can actually lower the threshold level of sweet food you prefer.
So an example of this in practical terms, say you’re using to having a fruit smoothie in the morning made up entirely of fruit, week by week if you start introducing some of the fruit with green leafy vegetables which are naturally bitter you will start to get used to the reduced sweetness. Once you have become used to having veggie smoothies with only a touch of fruit, you will find 100% fruit based smoothies overly sweet for your taste buds.
Some people like to completely overhaul how they eat and feel energized and excited by doing so but for the majority of people, making small, committed changes seems to work best and slowly consuming less processed food and replacing it with enjoying more real food.
Adrenalin leads you to use glucose stores (stored glucose is known as glycogen) and as the glucose fuel tank gets low, you crave it to fill the get out of danger fuel tank.
Top tip: if you haven’t got any deep breathing rituals in your life like a regular meditation or yoga practice, then follow the deep breathing exercise in this video. It will switch your rest, digest and repair part of your nervous system ON so your body can learn that it’s not in actual danger and that work deadline or that traffic jam isn’t a life threatening situation!
If you amp yourself up on caffeine, it will cause your body to produce adrenaline and the above comes into play. Your body will predominantly burn glucose and you will crave sugar to replenish your stores.
Top tip: switch coffee to herbal tea which is much more restorative for your health, especially if you’re someone that ‘can’t possibly live without your morning coffee.’
Although we all have plenty of body fat to burn as energy, many people don’t switch efficiently from sugar burning to fat burning and so as your immediate energy levels crash, sugar seems like such a quick source of energy to crank the energy up a notch or two.
Top tip: Include some good fats with your lunch from whole food sources such as whole nuts and seeds in with your salad, or good quality extra virgin salad dressing to keep you satiated and supplied with key fatty acids to fuel your brain and your cells. Also, get some sleep and some battery recharge time in.
Food can numb emotional pain, although we may not realise we are using it for this reason. You may crave sugar looking for more sweetness and joy in life; seeking momentary relief from drudgery or boredom.
Top tip: If this is something you can identify with, then getting to the route cause of the problem and spending some time doing some emotional repairing will serve your body much better in the long run as sugar is a short term fix, rather like a plaster approach.
Your body doesn’t have a voice but it communicates with signs and symptoms and cravings! Nutritional deficiencies are so common and often when the body is craving something, it is code for “I need something in my body that I’m currently lacking”. Sweet foods have never been so processed, and nutrient-empty so your body never actually gets that nutrient top up It was after so it continues the search, welcome craving number two one hour later!
Top tip: invest in a good quality multi vitamin and mineral to cover your basic levels. Ensure it is made to pharmaceutical grade and take it daily with food. I use USANA Health Sciences which you can get from here as they are the leading experts in cellular health and manufacture all their products in-house which means they source their ingredients and control everything from start to finish. Start off with their ‘Essentials‘ which is made up of a chelated mineral and mega antioxidants or take their ‘Healthpak‘ which is divided up into handy AM and PM pillow packs.
Understanding the road into a health challenge is important as that is the road we need to take out of it. Explore what leads you to crave sugar.
What was your most useful point and were there any that particularly resonated with you? Share your thoughts below.
All the healthy best,