What are cravings?

Do you crave certain foods? Did you know that a craving is completely different from normal hunger? A food craving is an intense yearning for a very specific food which is unfortunately time and again high in sugar and unhealthy fat. RELATED: RECOMMENDED PLANS FOR YOU Did you know that you can beat the cravings by maintaining your blood sugar level? Let’s take a look…

What is blood sugar?

Your blood sugar refers to the concentration of glucose in your blood which is made from the food you eat. Your body is created to constantly have approximately one teaspoon of sugar in your blood. If it goes higher than this, you run the risk of being seriously ill.

What happens when I eat sugar?

Your pancreas produces the hormone insulin to make sure your blood sugar is kept at the correct level. When you consume foods that are high in sugar and refined carbohydrates (white rice, bread, pasta, cereals, etc.), it is broken down into simple sugar which brings about a quick rise in your blood sugar. Insulin is produced by your pancreas to transport the blood sugar to the cells of your body to be used for energy, some of the blood sugar is stored in the liver as glycogen and the rest is stored as fat. If you constantly consume foods high in sugar and refined carbohydrates, your blood sugar will always remain high and your pancreas will keep on producing insulin to bring the levels down. Sooner or later your body doesn’t respond to the insulin anymore and you become insulin resistant which can eventually lead to diabetes.

stop cravings blood sugar level_2So How Can Maintaining Your Blood Sugar Level Stop Cravings?

Eating high glycemic foods including foods high in sugar and refined carbohydrates causes a rapid rise in your blood sugar then your blood sugar level falls down. When your blood sugar level falls, there is a tendency for you to want to eat something sweet to bring it back up very quickly, then the cycle repeats itself.

The impact on your brain when you eat too much sugar

A study published in 2013 in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition carried out in men aged 18-35 who ate high glycemic foods found that the food caused a rapid rise and then fall in their blood sugar. When their blood sugar level fell so low, it stimulated the regions of the brain associated with appetite, cravings and rewards (1) The study suggested that a blood sugar imbalance can excite parts of the brain that controls appetite, cravings and rewards causing you to crave more. Another study published in 2013 in the Diabetes Care Journal found that there was a relationship between increased insulin levels and food cravings (2) suggesting that improved insulin levels which can be achieved when your blood sugar is maintained at a proper level, may reduce food cravings so to stop cravings balance blood sugar level.

How To Maintain Your Blood Sugar Level

To stop cravings balance blood sugar level by eating real food, the goal is to keep it simple. Include protein with every meal, including snacks. Don’t eat carbohydrates on their own, eat your carbohydrates with protein and healthy fat. Healthy fat supports your brain function and protein supports the production of neurotransmitters which are your brain chemicals and helps with metabolism. Let the carbohydrates you eat come mainly from vegetables and fruits, more of vegetables. Beating your cravings is not about will power. It has something to do with your brain chemistry. So to stop cravings balance blood sugar level.   References Lennerz B S, Alsop D C, Holsen L M, Stern E, Rojas R, Ebbeling C B, Goldstein J M, Ludwig D S (2013) Effects of dietary glycemic index on brain regions related to reward and craving in men. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, doi:10.3945/ajcn.113.064113. Jastreboff A M, Sinha R, Lacadie C, Small D M, Sherwin R S, Potenza M N (2013) Neural correlates of stress- and food cue-induced food craving in obesity: association with insulin levels. Diabetes Care, 36: 394-402.   Read more from WatchFit Expert Anne Anyia

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