5 Ways to Overcome Your Sugar Cravings

Getting in control of your sugar cravings will lead to plenty of improvements to your health during this holiday season. Overcoming your sugar cravings will:

  • strengthen your immune system
  • boost your energy
  • improve your mood
  • enhance your sleep quality
  • help clear up skin irritations (acne, breakouts, eczema, psoriasis)

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The time between Thanksgiving and New Years is hands down, the most challenging to resist sugar temptations. It only takes on bite to trigger your sweet tooth and then it is a downhill slope from there.  Next, we begin to make the excuse ” I will get back on track in January.” Sound familiar?

So how can you get your sugar cravings back in control?

1. Eat a protein-based breakfast- starting your day with a carbohydrate based breakfast (Cereal, toast, bagels, juice) is going to trigger your sweet tooth. You are also depriving your body and your mind much needed nutrients to stabilize your energy. Here is a video of a great protein-based breakfast (good for both men and women, just adjust quantities): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iuH71rDeMB0

2. Set a Goal- if you are trying to change an unfavorable habit, it is essential to set goals. An affective goal should be challenging and quantitative. For example: “My goal is to eliminate sugar from my diet for 14 days.” Write your goal down in places that you will see it every day. Share your goal with at least 2 people.

3. Clean out your home– When there are candy bars, chocolate, ice cream or cookies in your home, it becomes much more difficult to resist. Remember that the choices you make in the grocery store affect how you eat at home. Don’t wait until your chocolate stash is finished, go ahead and toss it out now!

4. Sugar replacements– If you still want a sweet taste without the addictive qualities of sugar, choose a natural sugar alternative like Stevia or Xylitol. These sweeteners come from natural sources, they do not affect the blood sugar, and have no carcinogenic effects.

5. Pack a snack– Make sure to always have a snack handy. Waiting more than 4 hours to eat is a poor decision if you tend to have sugar cravings. When we wait too long to eat, our blood sugar levels drop and we crave sugar to get it back up.  Eating a quality snack will help stabilize the blood sugar as opposed to causing a blood sugar spike.                     Click here for examples of quality snack options 

Homemade Pumpkin Bread (Gluten Free)

I am not much of a baker. Yet for some reason, this pumpkin bread recipe from the Comfy Belly blog, was calling my name yesterday (aka the first day of fall). It is such an easy recipe to make and the spices really won my tastebuds over.

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Oftentimes gluten-free bread has a chalky or crumbled texture. This recipe definitely breaks that stereo type. The pumpkin puree keeps the texture nice and fluffy.

Ingredients
1/2 cup pumpkin puree (canned)
1/2 cup honey or maple syrup
2 eggs
2 cups almond flour
3/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp  each:
sea salt, nutmeg, cinnamon, cloves, ginger
1/2 cup walnuts

Directions
1. Pre-heat oven to 350 F degrees
2. Combine the wet ingredients in a bowl, whisk.
3. Combine the dry ingredients in a bowl.
4. Combine wet and dry ingredients. Mix well (no clumps)
5. Fold in walnuts
6. Using organic butter or melted coconut oil , grease a bread pan. Pour mixture into bread pan and bake for 40 minutes (or until outside is brown.) When it’s done, a toothpick inserted in the middle will come out clean.

If you live in San Diego and are looking for some healthy holiday recipes, join me for my Healthy Holiday Cooking Series. These classes are a great way to learn how to cook with healthier ingredients. We will discuss the benefits of using natural sweeteners and flours and how to improve your nutrition during this holiday season.

So Many Protein Bars To Choose From!

Okay, fine, I’ll help you out a little bit. It is a huge challenge to choose a good protein bar because there are way too many choices. The truth is that most protein bars have tons of processed ingredients that aren’t good for our health. The biggest problem that I have with protein bars is quality and quantity of sugar used to sweeten them. There are also usually way too many ingredients smooshed together in 1 bar.

While my preference is to eat real “whole foods,” I do understand that there are times where we have to make some exceptions. Protein bars and protein powder are to be used as a supplemental snack/meal in addition to an already existing whole foods diet.  They are not meant to be a replacement for a whole foods diet.

I just found my new favorite pre-workout bar and I am more than happy to share the secret. RISE protein bars! There are several flavors, however don’t be fooled– only 2 of the flavors are protein bars, the rest are “energy bars,” which contain much higher sugar levels and barely any protein. The two flavors that are on the ‘Nourished-Balance’ approved-list are:

  • Crunchy Carob Chip
  • Honey Almond

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These tasty little bars have 17grams of protein. Both of these bars are gluten free as well. There are 13 grams of sugar in each of the bars, which is considered pretty high for a snack. In nutrition there is always a better & best option. These bars would be considered a “better” option because they use higher quality sugars than most of the other bars on the market.

The ingredient list for Crunchy Carob Chip includes: almonds, organic agave, whey protein isolate, carob powder and crisp rice.

The ingredient list for the Honey Almond Bar is: honey, almonds, whey protein isolate

The bars are available on Amazon or at Whole Foods (and if you buy the whole box you get 10% off). My local health food store, Jimbo’s…. Naturally, also carries these yummy snacks.

If you still don’t like either of these options, you can try my homemade protein bar recipe. (coming soon!)

Summer Fruits – Affect on Blood Sugar and Weight Loss

Going into summer, we are surrounded by a lot of amazing, fresh, and flavorful fruit. It is good to know that  some fruits have a larger impact on your blood sugar than others.

Fruits in general have a high mineral content, thus they are important to incorporate into the diet.

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The glycemic index is a scale that measures how fast sugar for various foods releases into the blood stream. Foods that are high on the glycemic index scale will give us a quick release of energy but they will be followed by a crash in blood sugar. Whereas, foods that are lower on the glycemic index scale will have a less dramatic affect on blood sugar. We want to limit foods in our diet that are rated higher on the glycemic index.

  • High= 71-100.
  • Medium = 50-70.
  • Low = < 50

Fruits that are low on the glycemic index scale

  • Apples – 39
  • Berries- low to mid 20s
  • Cherries- 22
  • Grapefruit – 25
  • Figs- 35
  • Oranges- 40
  • Peach- 42
  • Pears- 38

Fruits that are medium-high on the glycemic index scale

  • Mangos- 55
  • Pineapples- 66
  • Kiwi- 52
  • Bananas- 55 (high on glycemic index but a good energy source- better than tropical fruits
  • Cantaloupe Melon- 65
  • Watermelon- 72

It is interesting to compare natural sugars to processed sugars on the glycemic index scale. Remember that fruits, vegetables and whole grains are much better options than processed carbohydrates. Don’t be scared of fruit! Eat it in moderation.

You can search for the Glycemic index of other carbohydrates on the Harvard Health Publications website.

Other articles you may be interested in:

Toasty & Nutty Snack-Bars

Nutrition fact- Always include some protein and fats when eating carbohydrates! This method helps to regulate blood sugar and will keep you full for longer.

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Sweet, salty, nutty, tasty… Couldn’t be more delicious! These bars also happen to be gluten-free, egg-free and dairy free. Oh Joy!

Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cooking time: 30 minutes

Ingredients
Dry

  • 1 1/4 cup blanched almond flour
  • 1/4 cup quick oats
  • 1/4 teaspoon celtic sea salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
Wet
  • 1/4 cup organic tea seed oil or organic grapeseed oil
  • 2 Tablespoons honey
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Additions
  • 1/2 cup raw pumpkin seeds
  • 1/2 cup raw sunflower seeds
  • 1/4 cup raisins
Directions
  1. Preheat oven to 350F degrees
  2. Mix almond flour, baking soda, sea salt and oats together in a bowl.
  3. In a separate bowl, mix wet ingredients
  4. Combine wet and dry ingredients together
  5. Add pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds and raisins to the mixture. Mix until well incorporated
  6. Oil an 8×8 inch baking dish with tea seed oil. Bake form 20 minutes. Let cool.
Makes 6-8 bars

Guilt Free Indulgence

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This month we celebrate love and relationships for Valentines day. It’s important to recognize that each of us has a relationship with food. Bringing awareness to our feelings before and after we eat is an important part of cultivating a good relationship with food. Our relationship with food is often far from loving. Many of us restrict food, attempting to control our weight. We often abuse food, substituting it for emotional well-being. Others ignore food, swallowing it whole before we’ve even tasted it.

When we eat something that is not considered “healthy” according to nutrition standards, we often beat ourselves up. The negative self-talk before and after eating an unhealthy food has a negative affect on our health, potentially more negative than the food itself. If you think about it, eating an unhealthy food once is not going to make you gain weight or affect your health. However, eating unhealthy foods on a regular basis is going to have an undesirable impact.

Next time you eat something that is unhealthy, give yourself a little bit of slack. We need to be much kinder to ourselves in order to change the negative behavior. If we beat ourselves up over it, we are more likely to perform the act again. The opposite, more productive reaction, would be to acknowledge the choice we made and truly enjoy that moment. If we allow ourselves to enjoy the moment, then we won’t need as many of those moments to fulfill us.

What would your life be like if you treated food and your body with gentleness, playfulness, honesty, respect and love? The next time you eat your soul food, do so with awareness and without guilt, and enjoy all the healing and nourishment it brings you.

Embrace Your Sweet Tooth

Humans are naturally inclined to favor sweet flavors. What we do not naturally crave is artificial sweeteners. Now more than ever, people are strongly addicted to the artificial sweet flavors and much higher levels of sweetness than the body needs. Sugar brakes down to carbohydrates which converts to energy in the body. We really do need carbohydrates in our diet but we have to make sure we are consuming the type of carbohydrates that are going to give us energy rather than sucking energy out of us.

In order to curb the addiction to artificial sugars and higher levels of sugar intake, I highly recommend buying the “unsweetened” version of packaged food products and sweeten them yourself. This way you can control the quality and quantity of the sweetener you are adding.

Some foods that you would look for the “unsweetened” version of are:

  • Yogurt (no flavor, no added sweetener, add your own fruit and natural sugar)
  • Oatmeal
  • Almond milk
  • Morning coffee (try going for plain instead of flavored and add your own sweetener)

Refer to Natural Sweeteners to find out which sugars are healthy alternatives to add.

No need to deny that sweet tooth. It’s all about being in control of your sweet tooth rather than it being in control of you.