A lot can happen in just three short days. From our plans, to the weather, to our goals and even our mood, things can change in the blink of an eye! But perhaps nothing changes as quickly as our resolve to fight food cravings.
Another thing that can change quickly is our microbiome. Did you know that our microbiome can shift in a 72 hour period? This is no coincidence in relation to when it comes time to fight food cravings in particular.
WHEN IT COMES TO EATING HEALTHY, SUGAR ISN’T THE ONLY ENEMY
This time of year – although we’re grateful for the time we spent over the holidays with our loved ones – many of us are probably looking forward to getting back to our normal, healthier routines. Sugar is one of those foods we tend to get carried away with over the holidays and other special occasions. Between the eggnog, candy canes and endless amounts of chocolate constantly at our fingertips, it’s pretty easy to go overboard. Cue weight gain, fatigue, breakouts, brain fog and blood sugar imbalances! Right?
Sometimes when we step off track, it can be easier said than done to get back into the swing of things. For example, if we’ve had sugary cocktails, carbs and treats more than usual over Christmas, it can take at least 3 days to “come off sugar.” Similar to other chemical addictions, coming off sugar can elicit flu-like symptoms for some people. This is not a sign that your body needs the sugary stuff! On the contrary, this is your body’s attempt to recalibrate from its dependency. You might also notice that after over-indulging, you’re more irritable, your brain is foggy, your food cravings are stronger, you get “hangry,” or you might experience other blood sugar regulation symptoms.
WHAT DRIVES OUR DESIRE FOR JUNK FOOD REALLY?
Our bodies are smart! Our diet and lifestyle play a HUGE part in the delicate and complex balance of bacteria living in our gut. It turns out that these tiny guests (i.e. the microbes in our gut) are also actually a MIRROR for what we’re eating. If we eat more sugar/junk food, the bugs that thrive off that thrive/multiply (enter:cravings) and vice versa for healthy foods. In other words, our gut bugs can powerfully influence our brain in terms of what it tells us to put in our mouth for their survival.
You’ve probably heard us talk about the gut-brain connection before — we’ve long known that the gut is responsible for digesting food and expelling the waste. Moreover, we also realize that the gut acts as a type of mini-brain, affecting things like our mood and appetite. Now, more recent research indicates our gut microbes might even play a role in our cravings for certain types of food. Strong evidence suggests that the microbal-derived metabolites carry information from the gut to the brain (via the vagus nerve), telling the host whether it needs a particular kind of food.
This means that bad gut bugs that thrive off of things like sugar would communicate to the brain that it needs more sugar. The same rule would apply to good gut bugs that thrive off of things like resistant starches, fibre and other nutrients. These are foods they would tell the brain to eat. This helps to explain why when we eat things that our bad for us, we find ourselves craving it more and more (like sugar!), and the viscous cycle continues…
5 SIMPLE WAYS TO FIGHT FOOD CRAVINGS
Let’s be honest, food cravings can derail our health efforts and giving into a food craving can be wildly demoralizing when we’re trying to work really hard to upgrade our health. Even when working with a functional medicine coach at the end of the day, you are the first line of defense for combating food cravings. So, the next time a sweet tooth craving hits, try some of our tried and true tips to fight food cravings — aka handy food strategies so that we can keep our gut happy and those food cravings in check.
HOW TO FIGHT FOOD CRAVINGS TIP 1: HYDRATE, HYDRATE, HYDRATE!
We know, we’ve mentioned the importance of hydration again and again, but that’s only because it really is THAT important! Does that ice cream in your freezer start calling your name at about 11pm? Apart from never having it in your house to begin with, try drinking a glass to FILTERED water to kill the craving! Sometimes our body mistakes thirst for hunger, and it can be as simple as that!
HOW TO FIGHT FOOD CRAVINGS TIP 2: TRY A SUGAR ALTERNATIVE
We’re not talking about artificial sweeteners! Buyers beware: marketers like to label foods as “sugar-free” to appear as a “healthy” option, but more often than not, their ingredient list will include artificial sweeteners that are just as bad for our health, if not worse, like aspartame (yuck!). A safe sugar substitute we recommend is Lakanto, a blend of erythritol and monk fruit sweetener. It tastes sweet but has no negative consequence on blood sugar levels and ZERO glycemic index!
HOW TO FIGHT FOOD CRAVINGS TIP 3: TRY THIS ROCK START DRINK — C+ BIOFIZZ
The next time a sweet tooth strikes, try mixing some C+Biofizz in some filtered water to show those taste buds who’s boss! You’ll get the sweet taste of an orange-flavoured “fizzy” drink (like pop!) without the negative side effects and a boost of vitamin C to boot! Vitamin C is a precursor to collagen (hello youthful skin!) and is also a killer immune booster!
HOW TO FIGHT FOOD CRAVINGS TIP 4: MANAGE STRESS LEVELS
Studies show that it can take up for SIX times longer for blood sugar to return back to normal when stressed. When we’re under a lot of stress, our body secretes cortisol, our stress hormone, and releases more glucose in order to give us energy to “escape” our stressor. As a result, glucose starts to build up in our blood stream, keeping blood sugar levels elevated. Cue, cravings! We recommend practicing relaxation techniques, such as meditation, journaling, or Epsom salts baths to keep stress levels in check.
HOW TO FIGHT FOOD CRAVINGS TIP 5: GET YOUR BEAUTY SLEEP
Getting poor quality sleep can also keep our adrenaline high, trigger high blood glucose and impair our metabolic processes. Not only does sleep affect our stress hormones, but it can also affect our hunger hormones, triggering cravings and throwing our appetite off track. It’s important to have a healthy sleep routine, such as doing something relaxing before bed and avoiding screens to prepare our mind and body for rest!
STAY THE COURSE
Gearing up to disruptive food cravings doesn’t have to be an all out war. With these practical easy to follow tips, you’ll be better able to see your personal health goals through to the finish line triumphantly!