Ah, the sugar monster! Do you know the one?
That relentless little voice screeching for a mid-morning muffin, the 3pm brownie break, and of course, the late night run to the freezer for a tub of ice cream (party for one!).
Don’t get us wrong- Life is full of simple pleasures, and these should be enjoyed in moderation, but when sugar cravings get out of control, it can be to the detriment of our health and descend into a self-potentiating vicious cycle.
The causes of sugar cravings can vary, and it may come as a surprise (and a relief!) that it isn’t just about willpower. There are foundations we can lay to avoid the internal struggle.
Foods high in refined sugar as well as our old friend the cheeky carb can take us on a roller coaster ride of energy highs and lows (we’ve all experienced the sugar high followed by the crash- what goes up, must come down, right?)
Balanced Blood Sugar: It’s Kind of A Big Deal
Ok, so some of us may have heard about the woes of blippy-blood sugar control- but it’s more prevalent than many of us may think. In fact, it’s not uncommon to suffer from blood sugar highs and lows on the daily without even knowing!
Nutrient deficiencies, sugary or high carb snacks and meals, hormone fluctuations, chronic stress, rubbish sleep and of course, gut dysbiosis are common drivers for blood sugar imbalance that can cause sugar cravings.
But most of us don’t just juggle one of these- Under such conditions, the body can become fatigued and overwhelmed in the effort to maintain balance between shuttling excess sugar into cells for energy and maintaining enough available sugar in the blood to keep the wheels from falling off (cue crash and enter sugar craving).
What happens next? We reach for the sugar, feel temporary relief (or even a rush) and then, voila! What goes up certainly come down. And the cycle repeats.
On top of this- satisfying a sugar craving also elicits a huge dopamine (our reward and pleasure hormone) rush. After eating something super sweet, something natural like a blueberry doesn’t taste as good as it used to and doesn’t have the same buzz for our reward centre.
Are Imbalanced Gut Bugs Hijacking your Cravings?
Blood sugar levels and gut bacteria can’t possibly be related, right?! They don’t even touch!
Sugar can throw out our gut-bug balance, and result in overgrowths of the wrong kinds of bacteria which can make us feel fatigued, negatively alter our blood sugar control, but also – get this – actually ask us to eat more sugar to feed them and keep them happy! #mindblown
We can think of sweets as fuel and the opportunistic bugs (like candida) as the fire; It’s easy to imagine how quickly a small overgrowth of bugs with a sweet-tooth can snowball into a dysbiotic, sugar-fiending tummy beast.
So what now?
The Gut Co has you covered.
6 Tips to Banish the Sugar Monster
1. Coffee After
PSA! Coffee (and caffeine in general) is not breakfast- in fact, coffee on an empty tummy is almost guaranteed to elicit the release of stress hormones that cause sugar cravings.
2. Eat Regular, Balanced Meals
How do we ‘balance’ a meal? Carbs are lonely without their besties, fibre, fat & protein. Together, they slow the release of sugar (from the carbohydrates) into the blood for stable all-day energy and fewer sweet cravings. For extra brownie points (probably black-bean brownies), choose carbohydrates with a low glycaemic index (GI)
3. The Power of Sleep
Even one mediocre night of sleep can dysregulate hunger signals and set us up for sugar munchies the next day. Make sleep sacred, prioritise your 8 hours and make sure they’re good quality!
4. Manage Stress
There’s a reason it’s called stress eating. The rush of feel-good neurotransmitters and endorphins released from indulging in something sugary or high carb can make us feel that we are mitigating an otherwise rubbish situation. Movement, meaningful connection, and creative pursuits can have a similar effect without the crash.
5. The nutrients that curb cravings
Take zinc and glutamine. Zinc helps the body metabolise insulin and glucose and a zinc deficiency can cause sugar cravings. Glutamine is an amino acid that balances blood sugar, which can help reduce and/or stop cravings altogether. REPAIR contains both zinc and glutamine in adequate dosages formulated to help with sugar cravings
6. Balance Your Bacteria!
Supporting a healthy microbiome through the addition of probiotics like candida-fighting Sacchromyces bouladii (or SB-known for its power to suppress bad bacteria and support the good), and prebiotic fibre such as Partially Hydrolysed Guar Gum (PHGG) can help to foster a healthy, thriving microbiome. FEED by The Gut Co. features a symbiotic combination of SB, Bacillus coagulans, as well as FODMAP-friendly prebiotic fibre including PHGG and Acacia Fibre to nourish your good guys daily.
Having a strategy in place for when the cravings set in can be very helpful and prevent a full on sugar intake. Including supplements such as cinnamon or a herb such as Gymnema can help to manage blood sugar levels in addition to always eating fat and protein with every meal
Glutamine, an amino acid, may also help to manage sugar cravings.
REPAIR contains glutamine and makes a delicious 'sweet drink"
5 ice cubes
sparkling water +slice of lime,
Mix and enjoy at 3pm and see what happens
Dall’Alba V, Silva FM, Antonio JP, et al. Improvement of the metabolic syndrome profile by soluble fibre – guar gum – in patients with type 2 diabetes: a randomised clinical trial. British Journal of Nutrition 2013
Festi D, Schiumerini R, Eusebi LH, Marasco G, Taddia M, Colecchia A. Gut microbiota and metabolic syndrome. World J Gastroenterol. 2014;20(43):16079-16094. doi:10.3748/wjg.v20.i43.16079
Gérard C, Vidal H. Impact of Gut Microbiota on Host Glycemic Control. Front Endocrinol (Lausanne). 2019;10:29. Published 2019 Jan 30. doi:10.3389/fendo.2019.00029
Roy Sarkar S, Mitra Mazumder P, Chatterjee K, et al. Saccharomyces boulardii ameliorates gut dysbiosis associated cognitive decline. Physiol Behav. 2021;236:113411. doi:10.1016/j.physbeh.2021.113411