How to conquer those sugar cravings
By Amar Chandel
What can be almost as strong, if not even stronger than hunger pangs, is sugar craving. One goes almost berserk when it strikes and one is willing to throw all dietary discipline out of the window for the sake of those sweet treats. Take heart. There are a few simple little techniques which can help you tide over those vulnerable moments.
Basically, excessive sugar cravings are a sign that your body is deficient in trace minerals like zinc, magnesium, chromium and vanadium that are involved in glucose metabolism. Increase the intake of yoghurt, chickpeas, almonds, oatmeal, asparagus, cheese, brewer’s yeast, whole grains, mushrooms, soy beans, spinach, oat bran and brown rice to address the root cause of the problem.
Also, eat something spicy or with a strong flavour. Strong odours from pepper, butter, lemon or onion will tell your hypothalamus to take fewer sweets for the next few hours. But be on your guard. Don’t replace the sweets with too much of meat or butter. That will be a remedy worse than the disease.
Inhaling the sweet scent of vanilla also calms down your sugar appetite. Not only smelling the essential oil but also massaging it on your neck and arms lowers the cravings. Mix 25 drops of vanilla oil in about one glass of water and keep ready. Apply liberally whenever cravings strike. It is better to smell like a cake than look like one.
Whenever you make tea, add to it a few leaves of Gurmar herb (Gymnema). The phytonutrients present in the herb form a coating on your taste buds so that sugar molecules cannot react with them. The result? Sweet things will taste far less sweet. Incidentally, Gurmar also happens to be a natural cure for diabetes.
Most low-fat foods are loaded with sugar. The fear of full fat foods has proven unfounded. All you have to take care of is the total quantity. Do enjoy full-fat granola bars and yoghurt. Your sugar intake will come down automatically. Just don’t go overboard on the fats. Remember, there are no bad foods; just bad doses.
Another home remedy for addressing your sugar craving is to have a tiny bit of peanut butter. Your urge to have a sweet treat will be gone within minutes. Try it.
You will notice that your sugar cravings are the strongest, first immediately after a meal and then about two to three hours after it. While the first category is due to the force of habit, the second is indicative that your blood sugar has gone low. So, make sure that you never skip breakfast or lunch. Do take protein in some form or the other. Have mini meals every three hours.
Those who are sleep deprived are more likely to need a sugar fix. Even half an hour of extra sleep will not only make you more energetic but will also lower your sugar dependence. The scientific reason for this is that your brain makes human growth hormone (HGH) whenever you sleep. An increase in its quantity brings about better blood sugar control.
We all know that daily brisk walk is good for your heart. Well, it also controls your sugar craze. A 40-minute jog will keep your cravings under check for up to eight hours. Even 20 minutes spent in putting your legs to paces will curb the cravings for two hours. That is called killing two birds with one stone.
It is another matter that some of the runners think that running requires sports drinks. What they don’t know is that these so-called health drinks are loaded with sugar. May be OK for an endurance athlete, but not for someone who just spends an hour or so on his morning walks.
(Chandigarh-based Amar Chandel is the author of two self-help books. The views expressed are personal.)