Oh, cravings! Something we can all relate to. But craving food is not inherently a bad thing. In fact, it’s our body’s biological way of telling us it’s hungry and needs fuel! But sometimes it isn’t just about fuel, and so today I’m going over some tips on how to balance our blood sugar and combat cravings that aren’t associated with true hunger; the uncontrollable kind that pop up late at night, in the middle of the afternoon, or after we’ve already eaten a big meal.
There are many different reasons why we might be craving a certain food or food in general – from stress to nutrient deficiencies – but today we’re going to focus on how blood sugar plays a role and other ways to help us feel more satisfied from the meals we eat.
HOW TO BALANCE YOUR BLOOD SUGAR & COMBAT CRAVINGS
1. Fat, Fibre & Protein
When we eat foods that are very sweet or starchy, our blood sugar spikes, insulin is secreted and our blood sugar dips which can cause some serious cravings! This is the rollercoaster that is blood sugar imbalance, and there are 3 main things that help to keep it in balance:
Eat fat, fibre, and protein with each meal. Fat, fibre and protein are digested slowly, and they help to slow down the release of glucose into our blood stream (from sugar or carbohydrate-rich foods).
Food Sources of Fat, Fibre & Protein to Eat Every Day:
Fat: Avocado, coconut, eggs, fish, olives, nuts and seeds (eg chia)
Fibre: all fruits and veggies with skin on!
Protein: pasture-rasied eggs and meats, fish, soaked or sprouted beans, nuts, seeds (eg hemp)
Use breakfast as your foundation for balanced blood sugar and sustained energy levels for the hours that follow: Breakfast that is rich in protein, healthy fats, fibre and complex carbohydrates is not only going to be full of various flavours, textures and nutrient density, but will be filling and satisfying.
2. Be Prepared
Many people skip meals (or skimp out on meals) because of being rushed, unprepared, or even to avoid calories. All of these things lead to intense cravings later in the day which are often remedied by the most convenient option available, but a little planning and prep is key! Do your best to be stocked up on all the ingredients you need to create healthy, filling meals and snacks for the week. Keep a chart or a list for the items you need to pick up weekly.
Carry convenient but wholesome snacks that you can grab when you’re in a pinch and to avoid waiting too long between meals:
- nuts and seeds or homemade trail mix with dark chocolate
- fruit with nut butter
- chopped veggies and hummus or babaganoush
- hardboiled eggs
3. Utilize The 5 Basic Tastes
Sweet, salty, savoury, sour, bitter: these five tastes combined at a meal can drastically help reduce cravings later on as it rounds out flavours and allows us to experience more than one taste.
Sometimes what we’re missing in a meal is sweet, and this can be one of the reasons why we crave things like dessert, but sweet doesn’t have to be saved exclusively for treats! Anytime I’ve included a sweeter side dish with my meals, I feel far more satisfied and I enjoyed it that much more.
You’ll notice that if ever you eat something that is solely sweet, you’ll likely crave something salty shortly thereafter, and vice versa!
5 Basic Tastes: Foods & Spices
Sweet: honey, raisins, currants, cinnamon, ginger, cardamom; fruit such as apple, pear, pineapple, mango
Salty: sea salt, kelp, olives, capers, pickles, herbs
Sour: lemon, lime, apple cider vinegar, balsamic vinegar
Bitter: kale, leafy greens, cabbage, cacao, citrus peels
Umami/Savoury: herbs, tamari (soy sauce), ripe tomatoes, mushrooms, fish, meats, kimchi, sauerkraut
Cinnamon contains compounds, such as cinnamaldehyde, that are shown to help balance blood sugar levels!
4. Eat Slowly
It takes around 20 minutes for our brain to register that we’re full, so you’ll avoid overeating if you eat slowly! Be mindful and enjoy each bite and take meal time as an opportunity for mindfulness to really experience the flavours and textures of the food your eating.
Eating slower not only improves digestion, but it promotes satiety because you aren’t rushing through your meal. Chew thoroughly, and wait a moment before taking your next bite.
How do you deal with cravings?
Don’t forget to check out my video below: