Summer was officially ushered in yesterday, June 21. Wahoo!
Summer is my favourite season, because I love to be outside hiking, biking, camping, swimming, mowing lawns and generally absorbing the sunshine. I wear a bigger smile and a happier mood, when the weather cooperates and I can be outside doing fun thing. In fact, last week, I successfully bicycled 25K for the first time this year — that was my goal for to be achieved by the end of June. Next up, is to bicycle 3 twenty-five kilometre rides per week before the end of July. Then 4 rides of 25K to equal 100K in one week. Goals help to keeping you challenged.
But to be able to cycle that many kilometres, I will need energy. Currently, I on day 38 of my elimination diet and that makes 38 days without refined sugar (or coffee or chocolate or wine). I have noticed that I have more sustained energy to do the activities I want to do. I discovered that I use sugary things to boost my waning energy levels, only to crash a short time later.
My conclusion is that avoiding refined sugar is one of the best ways to reduce the amount of time you spend on the sugar rollercoaster, which causes a drastic change in energy level (in the negative direction — tired, lethargic, demotivated).
The most effective way to get off sugar is to get to the root cause of your sugar cravings. The root to my cravings were food intolerances and allergies that were causing me to be tired and dragging my butt. By removing foods that were causing inflammation and bloating, I have busy days because I have the energy to do whatever I want. What a wonderful feeling, especially with the long summer days.
Here are a few strategies:
Eat sweet vegetables, such as carrots, parsnips, corn, winter squash, sweet potatoes and onion to satisfy our body’s need for sweet taste (which is normal).
Sweeter vegetables are not to be avoided. In fact, their natural sweetness is what you should be using to satisfy your sweet tooth, not empty calories from cakes, cookies, chips and other packaged foods.
The glycemic load takes into account not only the glycemic index of a food, but its serving size as well, making it an even better indicator of the potential effect of a food on your blood sugar levels. Any score under 10 is considered low. Raw carrots have a score of just 1. This low GL may be due to its higher fibre content, since foods higher in fibre tend to have less of an effect on blood sugar.
Eat meals with low glycemic load (GL) to avoid fluctuation in energy and blood sugar level. Generally when you crash, you reach for sugar for a quick surge of energy. Instead, combine whole grains and vegetables (high fibre foods) with a moderate amount of good fats and lean protein.
Check out this website to figure out what the glycemic load for your choices: http://nutritiondata.self.com/foods-000997000000000000000.html
Enter the food into the search bar and voila, you have your information from macronutrient information to its glycemic index and glycemic load numbers.
Stay hydrated – thirst is sometimes mistaken as hunger, which leads to cravings.
Thirst and dehydration often masquerade as hunger; many people pack on excess pounds because they reach for snacks when their body really wants water. So before you reach for that unplanned snack, grab your water bottle and drink some water. You don’t like water? Then add fruit, ice or spices to it.
Investigate sugar cravings as a result of nutrient deficiency – e.g. chromium and tryptophan.
It’s long been theorized that food cravings are a way for your body to communicate its nutrient deficiencies, such as craving a steak when your body needs protein or iron. But current research doesn’t necessarily support this theory. However, many nutritionists do believe that sugar cravings or any craving is an indication that your body is needing something. Here is an article supports the long-believed theory that cravings and nutrient shortfalls are linked: http://www.completehealthandfitness.ca/index.cfm?id=55052.
Nourish your soul – some people crave sweets out of boredom or loneliness.
Sally Kuzemchak, RD, suggests that asking four simply questions before indulging can set you on the right path of healthy nutrition. Her four questions are “Am I stressed out?” “Have I been eating less than usual?” “Am I getting enough sleep?” and “Am I a creature of habit?” I often finding that simply stopping and pondering before stuffing my mouth with something sweet can make me figure out what I am really needing. Sometimes all I need to do is get up, move around and drink some water.
Exercise is known to burn off stress hormones and increase your dopamine. The end result is having greater control over cravings and improved mood. Dr. Mercola believes “the mechanism is related to the dramatic reduction in insulin levels that occurs after exercise. Elevated insulin levels are another primary contributing factor to food cravings, and if insulin levels are reduced many of these cravings will simply fade away.”
So pick yourself up off the coach and start moving. Then after a short walk — dogs are great at helping us to get outside for fresh air — if you are still craving a little something, allow yourself a small sample. After all, sometimes a little square of raw chocolate just seems to hit the spot and nourishes my soul.
With summer here, don’t let your healthy eating habits be put on the back burner. Instead join Watt Works Nutrition’s online Summer Connect for just $2/week for 8 weeks of accountability and motivation delivered to your inbox on Tuesday mornings. It doesn’t get much easier than that. Click HERE and set yourself up for awesome summer success.
 Richard D. Mattes, MPH, PhD, RD. “Hunger and Thirst: Issues in measurement and prediction of eating and drinking,” Physiol Behav. 2010 Apr 26; 100(1): 22–32. Published online 2010 Jan 11. doi: 10.1016/j.physbeh.2009.12.026. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2849909/
 Melinda Beck, “How to Fend Off A Food Craving,” Wall Street Journal, 09-17-2012, http://www.wsj.com/articles/SB10000872396390443995604578002253859884598
 Sally Kuzemchak RD, “4 Ways to Outsmart a Craving,” Prevention, 11-3-2011, http://www.prevention.com/weight-loss/weight-loss-tips/how-stop-food-cravings-and-overeating.
 Dr. Mercola, ”Can’t Beat Food Cravings? Four Steps to Help You Kick Your Addictions” Mercola.com February 25, 2011, http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2011/02/25/cant-beat-food-cravings-four-steps-to-help-you-kick-your-addictions.aspx.