Healthy Holiday Question of the Week: What Do I Do When I Want Sweets?

Fantastic question and certainly one which is not particular to this time of year.

The answer is not simply to switch to a different type of sugar than one you’re currently using.  In other words, if your current routine includes a regular trip (or two) every afternoon to the coffee shop for a sugar free iced latte, replacing the sucralose, aspartame or saccharin with honey or stevia is not necessarily the solution.

Sure, honey and stevia are more natural, but the issue is that the sweet taste on the tongue, regardless of the source, is what triggers the brain to tell the pancreas to release insulin, according to some studies (1).

If you feel you crave sugar, need something sweet in the afternoon or want a treat every single night after dinner, rather than eating something sweet like fruit, honey-sweetened coffee or tea or a homemade dried fruit and agave concoction, take a moment to backtrack and reflect upon what you ate earlier that day.

Did you eat enough calories?  Many a client has reported both too little calories as well as too little fat early on in the day which, when combined with small meals high in refined carbohydrate can set us up for a blood sugar dip later on, manifesting as that awful feeling of suddenly hitting the wall and needing to eat anything…immediately.

Did you have enough water during the day?  Thirst can mask itself as hunger, so make sure to tick this easy-to-remedy faux pas off the list right away.

How was your sleep?  Regularly getting less than enough sleep can also skew your cortisol panel, resulting in imbalanced blood sugar levels.

So what do you do, then, if you’ve realized that some or all of the above have occurred in your day?   Going forward, let these mistakes serve as reminders to eat well in the morning (moderate protein, ample veggies and fat after a workout), stay hydrated and get enough exercise and rest.

But what about right now?  Right now when it’s 3pm and all you want is to sneak under your desk and take a nap?

  1. Have some water.
  2. Take a quick walk around the office and breathe mindfully.
  3. If you’re actually, truly hungry, have some fat.  A handful of raw walnuts.  A small packet of coconut butter.  Some MCT oil in a cup of herbal tea.
  4. Give yourself a little while and see if that awful crash doesn’t pass.  Often that near deviation down the path of sugar-madness can  be avoided if nipped in the bud.
  5. Learn from your mistake, effective immediately.    Promise yourself to nourish your body with fresh, local foods, eaten in balanced and simply prepared with mindfulness.

At this time of year more than ever, how nice would it be to not worry about having to avoid sweets when you don’t want them in the first place?

What healthy holiday question can I answer for you?  Reach out!

(1) “Cephalic Phase Insulin Release in Healthy Humans after Taste Stimulation?” National Center for Biotechnology Information. U.S. National Library of Medicine, n.d. Web. 15 Nov. 2016.