Saturday, March 10, 2012

How Do You Handle Sugar Cravings?

There are few people who don’t seek a “sugar fix” on a regular basis.

That’s because the food industry has “hard-wired” us. (There are also those who have a gene that stimulates those cravings, so it’s a tougher battle for them.)

Of course, whole foods have natural sugars. That’s not the problem.

It’s the huge amounts of those other sugars in our diets that add up without us even knowing it! No surprise that in this country we have an epidemic of obesity, heart disease and diabetes.

If you’re trying to break the sugar habit, don’t try and rely on will power alone. You need the nutritional support that comes from whole foods.

They contain the fiber needed to balance blood sugars, along with other important vitamins, minerals and antioxidants.

Carrying some high-protein snacks like almonds, a hard-boiled egg, or cheese cubes to graze on if you feel your blood sugars are getting low. (Key symptoms are irritability or feeling “edgy.”)

Also pay attention to times when that sugar fix is most attractive. Are you bored, frustrated, stressed or sad? If that’s the case, it’s really not sugar that you’re looking for.

What we know now, but didn’t know back then, was that the remedy for a more successful Lenten fast from candy wasn’t to just abstain. (I can testify from the rigors of practicing earlier Catholicism, that LOTS of people were frustrated, stressed and sad!)

It’s a matter of seeking balance, and, truth is, we are what we eat.

I’m among the sugar addicts because I have that gene. My “fix” used to come from breads, pastas and donuts, so I rationalized that I really wasn’t “hard-core”. The moment of truth arrived when I was surprised to find myself 25 pounds overweight. That was when I was in college, and few of us could button our skirts at the end of the first semester.

But I was fortunate enough to be on a campus where there were lots of fruit trees, and I started eating pears and apples. Lots of them. I was amazed that my appetite shifted, and I began to lose weight. (Deprivation wasn’t the answer at a secluded, all-girls’ college in rural Kentucky!)

The silver bullet was eating more fiber, and pears and apples have plenty of that.

What’s so easy about this approach is that whole foods are the best source. You won’t find much fiber in processed foods.

So if you want to reduce your craving for sugar, make it a goal to eat about 35 grams of fiber each day. (The average serving of fruits and vegetables has 2-3 grams, so you won’t be depriving yourself!)

I’m betting you won’t miss sugar at all!

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