You’ve committed to stop eating junk food & sugar. For a few days (or even weeks), you stay strong – sticking to your commitment. But soon you start to feel deprived, which makes the food you’ve sworn to give up all the more mouth watering. You cave in and pretty soon you’re bingeing on whatever it is you’ve been dying to eat. When it’s over, you feel like crap physically. Even worse, you’ve failed to stay on your diet, which makes you feel even worse emotionally. Guilt sets in, eventually followed by fresh determination. You’re going to start again, and be extra strict this time around. Sound familiar? What if there was a simple solution to kick that “sweet-tooth” for good?
First things first, Improve your Sleeping patterns!
It’s no surprise that tossing and turning all night can cause a person to feel tired, cranky and out of sorts the next day. But missing out on the recommended minimum of 7 hours of nightly shut-eye is also linked to increased sugar cravings! Studies have proven that sufficient sleep will increase your ability to make healthier food choices. Going without quality sleep puts your body at a chemical disadvantage that no amount of resolve can overcome. Even worse, the consequences will show up around your waistline: people who only sleep 5 hours per night are more likely to have more belly fat than those who the required 7hrs a night!
Why? It’s because of your Hormones.
Leptin: When you don’t sleep well you’re leptin levels are generally the first to get out of whack! Leptin is a hunger hormone that tells your body when to stop eating, so skipping bedtime deprives your body of the natural signals that say, “I’m full. Put down the fork.”
Ghrelin: Keeping ghrelin (the hormone that makes you feel hungry) levels in check is essential to fat loss. However, just one night of bad sleep can make your ghrelin skyrocket! The result? The fewer z’s you catch, the hungrier you’ll feel.
Insulin: Just like leptin and ghrelin, healthy insulin levels play an important role in your weight and appetite. Too much insulin makes you store fat, putting you at risk for obesity & type 2 diabetes. So guess what happens when you don’t get enough sleep? Your insulin levels spike, meaning you burn sugar instead of fat.
Your most energized, constructive days are built on the foundation of a good night’s sleep. Sleep is also essential to conquering cravings and keeping emotional eating firmly in check. So turn off your phone, drop the later afternoon coffee, get some exercise and get to bed at a reasonable hour. Trust me, you’ll feel the benefits within a day!
Eat regular, nutrient dense meals:
What happens when you haven’t eaten a meal in 5 or 6hrs due to back to back meetings? Your body needs energy to keep functioning optimally, and whats the fastest digesting energy source our bodies know? Sugar. Eating meals at regular intervals prevents this sugar craving as your brain & body have a constant flow of energy. Some sugar cravings can be a result of an underlying nutrient deficiency. In other words your aren’t eating enough good food! Although your brain can be a challenge to your willpower, there can be foods in your diet that trigger your longing for sugary foods. One dietary culprit is low protein intake. Because protein and fats slow the release of sugar into your bloodstream, when you don’t consume enough of them your blood sugar can rise and fall at an abnormal rate. The result? Your body craves quick energy from sugar. It’s the same reason you can crave sugar on a high carbohydrate diet. Simple carbohydrates enter the bloodstream fast, raising blood sugar, then subsequently raise the hormone insulin. Without fiber, protein, or fat in your food, simple carbohydrates alone won’t leave you full or satisfied, and soon you’ll be wanting more.
I’m not saying you should never eat sugar or even fast foods as long term deprivation is a recipe for disaster. 90% of your meals should be based around nutrient dense meals that provide your body & brain the energy to perform as its best (after all thats what we all want right?), then the other 10% for foods that don’t fit into this category – it might be a Friday night burger & few beers or a nice dessert after a dinner out! Consistently eating healthy foods leads to better energy levels, better performance & less cravings.