5 Nutritionist Approved Steps To Banish Sugar Cravings

Are you riding the sugar roller coaster?

You start the day promising yourself you'll "eat healthy" today and resist the cravings.

There isn't enough time to make a filling breakfast, so you grab a coffee to keep you going through your hectic morning.

Midmorning hits. Your energy is dropping. 

The hunger pangs are setting in. 

The fog over your brain is real.

"I'll just grab a quick top-me-up" you think as you throw back a muffin or soda.

Within minutes, your energy soars, you feel superhuman and power through half of your to-do list.

Then, bam!

You feel like you’ve been hit by a bus, want to curl up in bed and take a nap… oh and those sugar cravings are back again, stronger than ever.

Sound familiar?

Maybe you can relate to the above scenario, although it’s not sugar, but starchy foods like chips, bread, pasta and crackers? 

Cravings for these types of food are really common, especially in the pre-menstrual phase of our cycles. 

Whilst eating like this can feel really good for a few minutes, it’s usually pretty clear that riding this roller coaster of energy and mood changes throughout the day is not serving us long term.

Why do we crave sugar?

Craving sugar and sweetness is normal and very common

Eating processed sugar is the fastest way to increase your blood sugar levels as it requires very little breaking down and can quickly supply your body with energy.

When our blood sugar levels drop, our body sends out the signal that we need to eat to pick them back up again. 

This signal can be interpreted as a craving for sugar, particularly when we are tired.

Sugar also makes us feel better because it triggers the release of brain chemical called dopamine, which gives it an addictive quality.

In fact, science shows that the cravings and withdrawal symptoms of sugar addicts are comparable to heroin and cocaine addiction!

The secret about sugar cravings is that they can be satisfied by things other than sugar

Unlike a true drug addiction, where only that drug will do, sugar cravings can actually be overridden by eating balanced meals and snacks.

This is the key to overcoming your sugar cravings so that you can finally step off that sugar roller coaster and enjoy blissful balanced energy, stable moods and balanced hormones.  

Is eating sugar and refined carbohydrates ‘bad’?

Regularly eating large amounts of processed sugars (like white table sugar, candies/lollies, soft drinks/sodas, cakes, pastries and desserts) as well as processed carbohydrates (like white bread, pasta and biscuits) causes a very rapid spike in our blood sugar levels. 

Having high blood sugar is dangerous for the body, so it responds by secreting high levels of a hormone called insulin.

Insulin works like a marshal who directs the sugar out of our blood and into our cells for energy production and storage. 

This is a normal process and necessary for our survival, however in excess can lead to hormone imbalances.

How does sugar affect my hormones?

The hormonal problems related to blood sugar begin with excess insulin.

Just like estrogen and progesterone, insulin is also a hormone. When it becomes imbalanced, it causes a flow on effect.

High insulin levels cause cortisol (our stress hormone) to rise as well.

Cortisol causes our body to produce less progesterone, in order to prioritise our survival rather than our reproduction.

This is a normal mechanism in times of stress and is your body’s way of trying to protect you whilst this ‘threat’ of high blood sugar ensues.

The problem is, when this scenario occurs long-term, is can manifest in symptoms like pre-menstrual syndrome (PMS), mood changes, spotting before your period begins, and increased levels of anxiety.

Did You Know That Even Your Ovaries Have Insulin Receptors On Them?

This means they respond to changes in your blood sugar levels. 

In certain people, excess insulin triggers the ovaries to produce more testosterone and lower estrogen. 

This can lead to irregular ovulation, long cycles and high androgen symptoms (acne breakouts, unwanted hair growth and thinning hair on the head).

Excess insulin is a common underlying cause of the condition Poly Cystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) and is estimated to be the main driver in 70% of cases

PCOS is a condition of high testosterone and irregular ovulation, which is commonly driven by blood sugar and insulin issues.

So, how do I lower my blood sugar levels?

Preventing large amounts of insulin release isn’t about never eating the foods described above. 

Many of these foods cause great pleasure and are integral parts of celebrations and socialising.

The key is to choose smaller portions of high sugar/high refined carbohydrate foods and pair them with other nutrients which slow the release of sugars into the bloodstream.

Despite what you might think, balancing your blood sugar and breaking up with sugar cravings isn’t hard.

You just need a proven roadmap to take you step-by-step through this often daunting process.

In my best selling PCOS book, the PCOS Repair Protocol, I go through a proven roadmap to banish sugar cravings forever.

To get you started, the next time a sugar craving strikes, try the following steps:

  1. Drink a large glass of water (add some lemon, mint, berries or other natural flavour if this makes it more exciting) – often thirst can be mistaken for food cravings

  2. Ask yourself: Am I truly hungry or wanting sugar for other reasons? Does your stomach feel hungry? When was the last time you ate?

            - If you are truly hungry – please by all means: go and have a snack or meal! Choose a balanced meal support blood sugar levels (I teach how to create a balanced plate inthe PCOS Repair Protocol)
            - If you aren’t truly hungry, read on:

  3. Try breaking your thought pattern: Get up from your desk and take a stretch, go for a walk around the block, splash your face or take some deep breaths and see if this helps you interrupt your cravings long enough for you to explore them rather than engaging in them

  4. Eat a spoonful of nut butter (e.g. almond, coconut or peanut butter) – these nut butters are subtly sweet so will often hit the sweet spot you are craving, but also provide your body with a healthy fat and protein source to help keep blood sugar stabilised

  5. Be gentle with yourself when you do give in to cravings: No one meal, day or even week of eating will have a lifelong impact on your health and your hormones.

    Don’t be hard on yourself if you can’t resist a craving.

    Sometimes the emotional ‘beating up’ of ourselves for making poor food choices can be more detrimental to our health than the poor food choice itself!

    Keep this in mind and be forgiving of yourself when you slip up – the goal is not perfection but sustainable change

  • What are your experiences with sugar addiction?

  • Do you feel like you are riding the sugar roller-coaster throughout the day?

  • Have you found any strategies that help you fight cravings?

  • Let me know in the comments below.

About The Author - Tamika Woods

Tamika Woods | PCOS Author | Nourished Natural Health
Tamika Woods, Clinical Nutritionist (B.HS; B.Ed), Bestselling Author

For a decade, Tamika battled chronic acne, irregular cycles, mood swings, hair loss, painful periods, severe digestive issues and Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS). You name it - she's been there!

Tam was finally able to clear her skin, regulate her cycle, be free of period pain and fall pregnant naturally with her daughter in 2020. It took Tam 10 years and tens of thousands of dollars in tertiary education to get the answers she needed to get better.

She didn’t want other women to suffer as long as she did which is why she has dedicated her life to helping women in the same position as she was.

Tam helps women interpret what their bodies are trying to communicate through frustrating symptoms, and then develop a step-by-step roadmap to find balance again. She's here to help you get on track!

Tamika Woods is the author of the Amazon best seller PCOS Repair Protocol. She holds a Bachelor of Health Science degree (Nutritional Medicine) as well as a Bachelor of Education, graduating with Honours in both.

She is a certified Fertility Awareness Method (FAM) Educator and a certified member of the Australian Natural Therapists Association (ANTA).

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