Craving something sweet?
Craving sweet foods can often happen to women around the time of their period, but it can be a sign that your blood sugar levels are not in balance.
We tend to think of blood sugar balance as something that affects people with type 1 or type 2 diabetes. In fact, balancing blood sugar levels can help with a range of symptoms including:
- Low energy.
- Low mood.
- Hormone imbalances.
- Feeling faint or light headed if you’ve missed a meal or have gone a long time between meals.
- Food cravings, especially for sweet foods.
- Weight loss.
How the blood sugar rollercoaster works
The food we eat is broken down into glucose which is needed by every cell in the body. When the level of glucose in the blood starts to rise, we release the hormone insulin which moves the glucose from the blood into the cells. If we eat something very high in sugar such as sweets, cakes or biscuits or foods high in refined carbohydrates like crisps or white pasta, our blood sugar levels spike at a high level and so lots of insulin is released. As the glucose is moved into the cells, this can cause a sudden drop in blood sugar and so we start to crave sweet foods again – and so the cycle keeps repeating.
What we want to achieve is more balanced blood sugar levels by eating foods that do not cause the highs and lows of blood sugar levels.
How to get off the blood sugar rollercoaster
To get off the blood sugar rollercoaster, try these tips to balance your blood sugar levels and manage your symptoms.
- Opt for complex carbohydrates such as brown rice, wholemeal pasta, wholewheat pasta, quinoa or sweet potatoes instead of simple carbohydrates like white bread, white rice, white pasta. Complex carbohydrates break down more slowly, keeping your energy levels up and your blood sugar levels balanced.
- Avoid sugary snacks like chocolate, cakes, sweets and biscuits. These will make your blood sugar levels very high and then cause them to drop very low, causing the tell tale symptoms of low energy, light headedness or food carvings that drive the blood sugar rollercoaster. If you do need a snack, go for protein rich snacks that balance blood sugar and keep you fuller for longer e.g. nuts and seeds, vegetable sticks and hummus or apple slices with nut butter.
3. When you are tempted to snack, think about if you are really hungry. Do you need a drink instead? Are you just bored and need to do something different to break up whatever you were doing? Or are you comfort eating because you’ve had a tough day? In which case, what else can you do to make yourself feel better? Maybe have a soak in the bath, go for a walk, phone a friend, watch your favourite film, paint your nails or do a face mask.
4. Make sure you are getting a fist sized portion of protein (e.g. chicken, turkey, fish, eggs or pulses) or healthy fats (e.g. fish, avocado, nuts, seeds) with each meal to keep you fuller for longer and balance your blood sugar levels.
5. Get some exercise – regular exercise can have burn off any excess blood sugar and can also boost your energy and your mood.
6. Manage your stress levels – being stressed can increase our blood sugar levels as our body goes into fight or flight mode and so thinks it needs glucose to run away from danger. Running would actually use up the excess blood sugar, but when we stay chronically stressed without regular exercise, blood sugar levels can get too high. Try to build some relaxing activities into your day such as going for a walk in nature, doing some yoga or pilates or having a bath to bring your stress levels down.
If you would like some help managing your hormone levels or getting your blood sugar levels back in control, do get in touch. I offer free no obligation 30 minute hormone health reviews to give you some ideas about how to get back on track and think about how nutritional therapy may be able to help you.
The information contained above is provided for information purposes only. The contents of this blog are not intended to amount to advice and you should not rely on any of the contents of this blog. Professional advice should be obtained before taking or refraining from taking any action as a result of the contents of this blog. Emma Belton Nutrition disclaims all liability and responsibility arising from any reliance placed on any of the contents of this blog.