What happens if you eat too much sugar?
Sugar is a primary life source, and our bodies require it for energy. The body responds quickly to sugar as a fast-acting fuel. Complex sugars in whole foods offer a balanced response to sustaining our blood sugar as they are most often nutrient-rich, and the energy is obtained by breaking down these foods in our digestive process. Refined sugar is unnatural, and gets used quickly in the body as an efficient boost when we need it most, so sometimes it comes in handy. However, the more we count on it, the more our body craves and depends on it. Sugar also triggers the pleasure hormone, dopamine, which leaves us reaching for more as part of our reward and pleasure system.
While cravings can mean many things—including the need to strengthen the adrenal system, monthly hormonal changes, food sensitivities, etc.—cravings are also directly affected by our diet and lifestyle habits. When our blood sugar is low from lack of carbohydrates, protein or fat (the energy-producing nutrients, we crave sugar to keep ourselves going.
In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) sugar cravings are seen as a a sign of an underlying deficiency. Essentially, we are craving nourishment. Traditionally nourishing and building foods like rice, sweet potatoes, carrots, winter squash, dates, etc. are all sweet in flavor, but also healing and full of substantial nutritional value.
How to curb sugar cravings:
1. Stabilize your blood sugar
Not only will this support a healthy endocrine (hormonal) system, it takes away the need for sugar to to keep us going. Eat several small meals or snacks throughout the day, starting with protein for breakfast. Snack often on mineral- and nutrient-dense foods like nuts and seeds, sea vegetables, avocados, goji berries. Or, snack on foods that contain natural sources of sugar like carrots or bananas, which balance healthy blood sugar over an extended period instead of causing the sharp spike that refined sugar provides.
- The amino acid L-glutamine has been found to help reduce, and even support sugar cravings by supporting stabilized blood sugar. L-glutamine is found in common foods like chicken, wild fish, good quality eggs, vegetables like beans, beets, cabbage, spinach, carrots, & parsley and fermented foods like miso. Load up on those foods in order to keep your blood sugar healthy and in normal ranges.
2. Take your bitters
Researchers have discovered that bitter substances can block sugar signaling in the brain to soothe the sugar cravings we are experiencing. The flavors of sweet, umami, and sometimes salt flavors indicate pleasurable tasting notes, are often the flavors that we first prefer as children and then later into our lives. Sour and bitter serve as warning signals for acidity or potential toxins, making our bodies challenge them digestively. It has been well-researched that these flavors can block the receptors in the brain that are craving sugar and excitement. The research out there indicates that the bitter taste can have the opposite effect of refined sugar, moderating both hunger and blood sugar. So not only do you absorb your food and nutrients better by including bitters in your diet before meals, you can use them during times of sugar cravings to support and soothe.
All of our bitter formulas will support sugar cravings and can be powerful support agents throughout the day. If you are new to using bitters, the Maple Bitters are helpful as they contain a small amount of real maple syrup. You get the effect of the bitters herbs, with a tad of sweetness to satisfy the need for sugar.
For an alcohol-free option, try our Apple Cider Vinegar Bitters.
Enjoy approximately ¼ teaspoon (1.2 mL) of our bitters before or after meals– or to curb a sugar craving– up to 6 times daily if needed!
3. Examine your lifestyle and find healthier rewards
Instead of treating yourself to sweets as a way to receive pleasure, retrain your brain to reconnect with other pleasure-inducing habits. Often we reach for sweets when we’re overtired, overworked, stressed, lonely, or bored. Make a list of all the things that bring you happiness and increase endorphins, such as favorite exercises, people you love spending time with, happy places, or meditation practices. Insufficient stress-reducing activities or rest leave us relying on stimulants throughout the day, which deplete our adrenal vitality and and leave us craving ways to stimulate it.
4. Drink plenty of water
Dehydration can sometimes show up in the form of hunger or sugar cravings. How much water have you actually had during the day? Most people are chronically dehydrated, leaving their bodies continually searching for something to satisfy that feeling and regenerate our cells.
5. Examine your diet—nutrient deficiency is far too common
Are you eating enough of the right things? Fat, protein, the right kind of carbohydrates? Fiber-rich and green foods? These foods are essential to a well-balanced diet, leaving you in less of a deficient place, craving something you aren’t getting. Are you eating too many starchy things or exercising a lot and not getting enough protein or fat?
- – Question nutrition labels—sugars are hidden in everything!
- – Eliminate refined sugars, processed foods and sodas, fruit juices and artificial sweeteners from your diet, and get better at choosing better substitutes.