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Conquer Cravings: A Functional Nutrition Approach to Breaking Your Sugar Addiction

Are you tired of being held hostage by your sugar cravings? Do you find yourself reaching for sugary treats on a daily basis, only to then feel guilty and wondering why you cannot control yourself. Good news: it is not your fault! It is time to uncover the truth: sugar cravings are not just about self-control; they are deeply rooted in our biology and the powerful impact of our modern diet.

Our modern Western diets are loaded with refined carbohydrates and added sugars. The truth is sugar addiction is a real and pervasive problem. I heard recently that there is no such things as ‘an emotional eater’, sugar addiction is the real and pervasive problem. It’s about how these foods hijack our taste buds, brain chemistry and hormones to drive insatiable cravings that feel impossible to resist.

The Science Behind Cravings

Here is the revelation, understanding sugar cravings means understanding how they change our physiology. Sugar cravings are often driven by imbalances in our blood sugar levels, brain neurotransmitters and gut health as some of the main triggers. Let’s explore.

First, when you consume sugary foods, the glucose in these foods is rapidly absorbed into your bloodstream, causing a sudden spike in blood sugar levels. This triggers your pancreas to release insulin to help the cells absorb the glucose. However, this rapid release of insulin may cause blood sugars to drop suddenly. This drop results in cravings for more sugar. The cycle of blood sugar spike and crash may lead to a dependency on sugary foods, making it difficult to break cravings.

Second, when you consume sugary foods your brain releases a surge of feel-good-hormones, like dopamine, that activate your pleasure-reward centers. As dopamine levels drop, the brain will seek more sugar for more of that pleasure sensation. This creates a powerful cycle where the brain’s reward system is activated by sugar consumption, making it difficult to break cravings.

Third, in addition to the crash-spike cycle and neurotransmitter impact, your gut microbiome also influences sugar cravings. When there is an imbalance, or dysbiosis in the gut which could be characterized by bacterial, fungal or yeast overgrowth, these ‘bad’ microbes thrive on sugar. Consuming sugary foods feed these harmful microbes, allowing them to proliferate and send signals to your brain to intensify sugar cravings. This creates a vicious cycle where the microbes demand for more sugar which further disrupts gut health.

Functional Nutrition Strategies to Conquer Cravings

As a Functional Dietitian, here are some of the strategies I have used effectively with my clients to help break free from sugar addiction.

1. Start a quality multivitamin-multimineral: to enhance nutrient intake because sometimes the body’s cravings is really trying to replete a vitamin or mineral deficiency.

2. Address ‘what you are eating’: include balanced meals: pick a protein, add vegetables, use healthy fats, include some whole grains and fruit at the end of the meal will help to stabilize blood sugar and curb cravings for sugary treats.

3. Address ‘how you are eating’: aim for consistent meal timing and periods of fasting in between (up to 4 hours) to allow metabolic hormones to normalize and the body to shift out of metabolism and into other vital functions like healing & repair.

4. Supplement Chromium Picolinate: this mineral plays a key role in glucose metabolism and can support healthy blood sugar levels, potentially reducing cravings.

5. Optimize Gut Health: rule out any dysbiosis (related to bacteria, yeast or fungal) and incorporate probiotic rich foods and supplements to support a healthy gut microbiome, which can have an impact on your ability to manage cravings.

6. Add Fiber-Rich Foods: include fresh fruits, vegetables, whole grains and legumes to slow and balance the absorption of sugar and provide satiety.

7. Snack on Protein-Rich foods: if needed, choose snacks with protein like nuts, seeds, Greek yogurt or hard-boiled eggs to keep you full and satisfied.

8. Use Ceylon Cinnamon: cinnamon has been shown to regulate blood sugar levels and may assist in curbing sugar cravings. Add to berry bowls, smoothies, fresh fruits.

9. Opt for Dark Chocolate in Moderation: a small portion of dark chocolate (at least 70% cacao) can satisfy a sweet craving while providing antioxidants and beneficial compounds.

10. Sip on Superfood Beverages Between Meals: replace snacking with herbal teas or superfood beverages like mushroom hot chocolates, adaptogenic coffee, herbal teas to occupy the hand to mouth habit of snacking (this is my favorite trick)

11. Give it 30-Days: following a balanced meal whole foods approach for 30 days can help to rewire your body’s hormones and brain chemistry and help you to break your sugar cravings.

In addition to food and supplement strategies, establishing healthy habits like restoring quality sleep, incorporating daily joyful movement and stress management techniques can have a profound impact on your ability to conquer cravings. By taking a comprehensive, functional approach you can regain control and experience lasting improvements in your health.



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