Have you ever experienced cravings that you couldn’t control? Or do you find yourself binge eating, overeating, or emotional eating? While there can be several reasons for why you do these things, one of the most overlooked causes is your blood sugar being out of whack (yes, that is a technical term).
While there are many changes you can make to address some of these issues, if I had to call out one specific thing that’s going to help you lose weight, reduce stress, help heal adrenal fatigue, cure cravings, overcome binge eating, gain energy, and stop the chronic yo-yo dieting cycle, it would be... ta-da! Balancing your blood sugar! (Bet you were expecting something more exciting, huh?)
Balancing your blood sugar has the largest overall effect on the issues I just mentioned along with other factors. So what do I mean when I say “balance your blood sugar,” and how do you do it? First, let’s get clear in what sugar is. Most of us think of sugar as the white stuff we add to things to make them sweet, but the term is much broader than that.
The Different Types of Sugar
There are many different forms of sugar, both natural and man made. Sugar can also show up as about 1,000 different names. One fact about sugar many people miss is that it’s the basis for all carbohydrates… and carbohydrates are an essential macronutrient that must be included in the diet. (So, please do not walk away from this article thinking I’m telling you to cut out an entire macronutrient group!)
The primary function of carbohydrates is to provide energy for the body, specifically for the brain and the nervous system. There are three different types of carbohydrates: simple, complex, and fiber, and each of these categories has a very different effect on the body.
First, let’s talk about simple carbs because they unfortunately seem to be the bulk of a lot of people’s diets. Foods containing simple carbs are things like:
most packaged cereals
The problem with simple carbs is that they’re broken down extremely quickly by the body. They provide a quick burst of energy, but then it is followed by the dreaded crash!
In contrast, complex carbs take longer to be digested by the body. While simple carbs provide a quick burst of energy, complex carbs give you a slower burn of energy. Examples of foods that contain complex carbs are:
Now, it’s important to know that when a complex carb becomes processed or refined (such as turning whole wheat into a muffin), it becomes a simple carb because all the fiber and nutrients get stripped out during the refining process. That’s why when you eat a muffin, it enters the bloodstream in a rush and causes an increase in blood sugar... and thus, the blood sugar rollercoaster begins!
So how do we prevent this rollercoaster? There are seven key areas to work on to balance blood sugar:
Hydrate! Water is key for keeping blood sugar stable. Most people walk around chronically dehydrated. You can find many formulas out there to help you determine how much water you should be drinking. The one I prefer is multiplying your bodyweight by 0.67%. This gives you a good idea of how much you should be drinking; however, you’ll still need to consider other factors, such as how active you are, whether or not you live in a hot climate, and how much caffeine or alcohol you consume.
Eat protein with every meal.
Reduce stimulants such as coffee, alcohol, and nicotine, which all cause blood sugar to rise due to a spike in adrenaline.
Get plenty of sleep.
Add healthy fat to each meal. Fat helps keep you full and is vital for your brain.
Try to have consistent meal and snack times. Lack of constancy can lead to spikes throughout the day.
And finally, incorporate more movement into your day.
If you do these seven things, you should be able to avoid the blood sugar rollercoaster ride and help yourself eliminate cravings, lose weight, stop the yo-yo diet cycle, and regain control of your health.