Curb Your Cravings
Physiological & Psychological
Have you ever been under pressure, stressed out and you find yourself digging in the closet for food? What kind of food do you reach for? Chips, cookies... cake? You find yourself not really hungry but it's comfort food. You are a victim of Psychological cravings!
I love dessert! Whenever my blood sugar is low the first thing I reach for is sweets! I crave sweets for 2 reasons.
1. I LOVE Sweets
2. They are loaded with Carbohydrates.
This is both a Physiological & Psychological craving. Since my blood sugar is low my body physically NEEDS carbohydrates (a physiological craving) and I always choose sweets over anything other food just because I want it! (Psychological craving)
Our bodies basic survival mechanism when our blood sugar is low is to create a sense of urgency to consume carbs which causes a physiological craving. A physiological craving is physical "need" your body creates a drive for. When my blood sugar is stable I may look at the sweets and I don't necessarily "need" it but I "want" it because I love sweets.
Dangers of Too Much Sugar
Anytime your blood sugar spikes above 120 mg/dl, your pancreas over releases the hormone insulin. When this happens your body shifts into fat storing mode. So the more blood sugar spikes you have, the more fat you store. This can lead to an onslaught of health challenges including obesity, heart disease and Type 2 Diabetes.
Type 2 Diabetes has a genetic component to it, but the main trigger of the onset of this medical challenge is years of over consuming carbohydrates and spiking blood sugar levels. Eventually the cells that respond to insulin (your hormone that lowers your blood sugar) become insulin resistance and this causes your blood sugar to stay elevated, leading to Type 2 Diabetes.
The solution is to start stabilizing your blood sugar now and you can most likely prevent the disease and if you already have Type 2 Diabetes, start following the principles found in this article to get your blood sugar levels back in balance.
Choosing The Correct Fuel
A good way to picture fueling your body is to reflect back to the last time you put gas in your vehicle. You had choices:
- Regular unleaded
- Midgrade unleaded
- Premium unleaded
All 3 types of gas will provide fuel for your car. The biggest difference between each type of fuel is that a higher performance car requires a premium (higher quality) fuel to run. Your body's engine requires calories as fuel and just like the quality of gas vary so does the quality of calories you consume. If you want your body to run like an efficient, fast and powerful Ferrari, you need to feed it premium (quality) fuel.
Before a car can use it's gas as fuel, the gas must go through it's fuel system to provide energy for the engine. If the car's fuel system is not correctly breaking down the gas and preparing it to be used by the engine the car won't run. This is a very similar situation as to how your body's digestive system works to prepare your fuel (food) to be used as energy. Your digestive system prepares fuel by metabolizing it or breaking it down into it's simplest forms. It converts proteins into amino acids, carbohydrates to sugar, an fats to fatty acids. This breakdown of the three key nutrients is what allows your fuel to be used for energy and your digestive system to absorb vitamins, minerals, and water. Your body eliminates whatever it does not need or want.
PROTEIN - Your "Muscle Fuel"
Fluffy egg whites, creamy greek yogurt, barbeque chicken, and a juicy Steak are all forms of protein. Protein is the building block of your body, the main factor in the growth, repair and maintenance of your body's tissue. It's composed of chains of amino acids that contain both essential amino acids (your body can not make them) and nonessential amino acids. (your body can make them) Because of these 2 different types of amino acids there are 2 types of proteins: complete and incomplete.
Complete Protein: Have all the essential nutrients in them and can be used by the body immediately. Complete proteins come primarily from animal sources like beef, chicken, fish and turkey, or animal by-products like milk, cheese and eggs. Main vegetable sources of complete proteins are soy (a bean), quinoa (a seed), and hemp (a seed). Complete protein causes a positive release of the hormone glucagon (the hormone that raises your blood sugar), which in turn counteracts the hormone insulin (the hormone that lowers your blood sugar), resulting in stable blood sugar as these two hormones balance each other out. Complete proteins not only provide stabilizing blood sugar levels but is also assists in cell and tissue growth because it contains nitrogen. Think of protein, especially complete protein, as "muscle fuel" because it is your best source of nitrogen.
Incomplete Protein: Lack one or more essential amino acids. Incomplete proteins can be found in fruit, vegetables, nuts and grains (besides quinoa) In order for an incomplete protein to become complete it needs to be combined with another source of protein. For example rice and beans together make a complete protein.
Not all proteins are equal! An incomplete protein is inferior to a complete protein (because it is lacking an essential amino acid) and the type of protein you eat is the deciding factor in stabilizing your blood sugar. So it is important to learn and understand the difference!
CARBOHYDRATES - Your Brain Fuel
Carbohydrates are your body's main source of fuel. ALL carbohydrates (with the exception of fibre) are broken down through digestion into glucose (sugar). Your central nervous system is run on glucose. Your central nervous system is your command center and along with your brain it manages your lungs, heartbeat, every move you make, and every thought you have. So carbohydrates are your "brain fuel".
Two types of Brain Fuel:
- Simple: Simple carbohydrates got their name because your digestive system quickly metabolizes them into glucose to use as energy. Reflect back to when you had a glass of juice or ate a piece of fruit and minutes later you felt a rush of energy. This rush of energy is a result of your body quickly metabolizing the fruit or juice into glucose.
- Complex: Complex carbohydrates are called that because they take longer to break down (metabolize) into glucose. There are 2 types: starches and fibres.
Starches are heavier and more dense like corn, wheat, potatoes and beans.
Fibre is the nondigestible portion of the carbohydrate and can not be used for energy.
Both simple and complex carbohydrates are needed to help stabilize blood sugar. Simple carbs break down faster than complex and complex have more calories than simple carbs. If you eat only simple carbs all the time you will always struggle with feeling hungry because you will consistently have low blood sugar. If you eat a lot of complex carbs your will end up eating too much and feel full and bloated after every meal.
It's important to have a combination of simple and complex carbs in every meal to assist in maintaining stable blood sugar.
FAT - Your "Fat-burner Fuel"
Fat is your friend! Fat is essential for your body to work correctly. There are 2 types of fat; "Bad" (saturated) fat and "Good" (unsaturated) Fat. Saturated fat is considered bad because it raises the level of your "bad" cholesterol (LDL) in your blood and can increase your risk of heart disease. Examples are bacon, beef, butter and cheese. Unsaturated fats do not raise your cholesterol (LDL) levels it actually can help reduce it. Examples of unsaturated fats are avocado, olives, nuts, seeds and soybeans. Fat benefits you in 4 ways:
- Fat slows down digestion - it inhibits the release of stomach acid, which in turn slows down your digestive process, which assists in stabilizing your blood sugar more easily.
- Fat causes you to release stored body fat - Your body has a safety mechanism that kicks in when it senses that no fat is being consumed, it will go into fat storing mode. So if you consistently feed your body the essential fats it will release unwanted stored body fat
- Fat is needed to absorb the fat-soluble vitamins A,D,E & K - Fat soluble vitamins are essential for your body to function optimally. Without fat these vitamins can not be absorbed by your body resulting in vitamin deficiencies and health challenges.
- Fat can provide essential fatty acids - When you incorporate fat into your meals you control the overall health of your skin, hair, and nails. Read more about the amazing benefits of omega fatty acids in this article.
Always remember: Fat is your friend!