Have you ever felt tired, sluggish or just wanted a pick me up? You’ll go to the pantry, the vending machine or whatever resource you have and get yourself a sweet treat. Possibly a candy bar, a cake, a snack bar, or whatever comes in a convient package.
You take a bite and yum! You get that euphoric rush of happiness, a burst of energy and suddenly your mind is free! You feel charged and ready to carry on with the rest of your day! Yippee! Then, without warning, you crash about an hour or so later. Now you’re not just tired and a little sluggish, you’re anxious, irritable, unable to focus, fatigued and really just want that happy feeling to come back! Worse yet, you’re really hungry! So you grab something else to pick you up. This time maybe it’s coffee, another snack bar or even another candy treat.
This is the sugar cycle.
If you didn’t already know, refined sugar can be very easily added into your daily menu. It’s found in all the places you’d expect such as cookies, candies and cakes. But you can also find it in canned fruits, canned vegetables, bread, baby food, ketchup, take-out food, prepackaged entrées and the list goes on. Why do you think so many companies put sugar in our foods? Could their financial well being be the focus, not your health? Studies have shown that many national food companies know how addictive sugar is, and it’s why it’s in there! They want you to LOVE their product and keep buying it. Many well known companies will start with our kids and get them addicted to their sugary foods early so they will have customers for life.
In my research on this topic I’ve discovered that many nutritional researchers and medical doctors want refined sugar to be labeled as an addictive substance for two reasons; first, because even after only having a small taste of refined sugar you want to have more immediately and second, that suddenly removing refined sugar from your daily menu leaves you with withdrawal symptoms such as migraines, cravings and possibly itchy skin as if you have bugs underneath.
You see, in order for you to metabolize refined sugar it needs to take nutrients from your body first. So if you were treating yourself kindly & with lots of love by eating a healthy meal rich in whole foods that were robust in color and nutrients, (such as a homemade stir fry, grilled chicken without the skin and a lush salad) the “treat” you gave yourself as a “quick pick me up” or reward for something you accomplished, just nutritionally brought your body below where it started before you ate your healthy meal. You’ve also reduced your energy resources. Now you’ve got to start all over, and also try to avoid reaching for another sweet treat. That’s too much work and stress if you ask me. Work for your mind and stress on your entire body/mind.
Now, it’s natural for us to crave sweets. I would never suggest avoiding all sweets, because there is so much to enjoy! But here’s what happens: when sugar is consumed and becomes digested it enters the bloodstream and turns into glucose. We need glucose to fuel all of our body’s cells and organs. It gives us energy, allows all of our bodily systems to function properly and helps brain function too. It can even be helpful in calming and balancing out our moods as it can enhance the release of serotonin. But rather than settling for a refined source that give you an initial “high” then will leave you feeling anxious, irritable and depressed (as well as have your body screaming for more food to make up for the lack of nutrition it’s looking for) I suggest reaching for real whole foods such as whole grain carbohydrates. Because complex carbohydrates are made up of long chains of sugars they are released more slowly, allowing you to feel satisfied longer and have that consistent energy I was talking about, without the highs & lows or the crash & burn. I’m talking about whole food carbohydrates that are found in nature and prepackaged by Mother Nature herself such as brown rice, quinoa or millet, as well as organic vegetables and fruits, not foods that come in a box or a colorful wrapper.
Here are 5 essential snack foods I suggest trying:
üRaw Veggies and Dip
üFruit –it conviently comes in its own packaging!
üRoot Vegetable Chips- otherwise known as dehydrated veggies. You can find them in any grocery store or make them on your own. Try em’!
üA Small Square of Dark Organic Chocolate-then suck on it, don’t chew!-If you must have chocolate go for the one that will actually do your body good!
üA Homemade Granola Bar or Trail Mix-easy to make & carry.
When we begin to look outside the box, we can discover a whole world of taste and sensations to enjoy. Many of my clients who never thought they would ever enjoy cooking have not only fallen in love with making their own treats, they have been able to reduce or eliminate many of their medications. Changing and upgrading your resource for sweets can be a very simple and empowering action. Try crowding out your sweet choices this week with some healthier alternatives. What changes do you notice? What is it that you’re craving now?
Dina Hansen is a Board Certified Doctor of Natural Health who specializes in Integrative Nutrition for Cravings & Mood Swings and founder of Healthy Life Coaching. She’s devoted to educating women and giving them the tools they need to create a life that is healthier, happier and more satisfying every day. Through improving their overall health physically, mentally & emotionally her clients have found success in improving their overall eating habits, conquering anxiety, depression, brain fog, mood swings and sweet cravings and achieved greater energy levels with a reduction of stress. You can visit her at www.AHealthyLifeCoach.com