7 Tips To Decrease Sugar Cravings

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Food cravings can mean the death of many of your nutrition goals. Even the most dedicated can find themselves slipping and giving into the gnarling voice of their cravings.

Sugar and salt seem to be the most craved, with sugar in particular, being so addictive that willpower and intellect alone have little to do with pushing it away. You can only willpower your way through a sugar craving so many times until you eventually give in and throw all caution to the wind.

There are many reasons of why sugar can feel like it has a stranglehold on you — stress, nutrient deficiencies, imbalanced blood sugar, food memories, poor relationship with food, not enough sleep, and not being mindful of what you are eating. This is only naming a few of the reasons.

There is a belly-mind connection and it is much stronger than your willpower in the long run. 

And because of this belly-mind connection, it is super important to address a layer of reasons of why you may be struggling with your cravings. Some of those layers may feel very challenging to move through, while other may feel a bit easier and more direct. 

When starting a successful habit change, you want to focus on those low hanging fruit layers — those easy to grasp and where you can see quick results. Not only does it help to get the ball rolling, but it is also super motivating to see quick results.

Changing your relationship with food and the memories associated with your cravings can prove to be a little bit more challenging and typically demand deeper mental and emotional work. You can start here, but it might be easier to make some simple nutritional changes. This will help to decrease the physical and nutritional issues that may not be associated directly with your relationship with food.

Here are 7 easy tips that can begin to ward off cravings and balance your blood sugar:

  1. Drink more water. Let’s start with a simple one. The more dehydrated you are, the more difficult it is for the body to metabolize glycogen (stored glucose) for energy, so our bodies crave sugar to provide us with a quick source of energy when we actually just need to drink a little more water. 
  2. Add in cinnamon. This spice helps your body control the amount of sugar in your blood, evening out the highs and lows that lead to cravings. One study found those who took 3g of cinnamon a day maintained lower blood sugar levels after a glucose-tolerance test than those who did not take the cinnamon. And, your sugar cravings can drop immediately after consuming something with cinnamon!
  3. Eat your bitter foods. Research has found that consuming bitter foods shuts down the receptors in your brain that drive you to desire and consume more sugar. Bitter foods and plants can help slow the absorption of sugar and regulate blood sugar levels. You can eat foods such as dandelion, citrus peel, artichoke leaf, licorice root, and even burdock root. Or, you can make it super simple and use a tincture of bitters either before or after your meals (this helps with digestion too!). My favorite bitter tincture is by Urban Moonshine.
  4. Try spinach extract. Spinach extract, also known as Appethyl, is actually a weight loss supplement. It contains thylakoids, which consist mostly of proteins, antioxidants, and chlorophyll. Spinach extract has been shown to delay fat absorption (but not total inhibit it) and increase the activity of the hormones that reduce appetite and hunger. 
  5. Say no to the small bites. Feel a craving coming on? Don’t eat the small bites here and the small bites there. Those first few bites are inevitably the most tasty and your brain is going to be triggered by indulging in just a few bites. Not to mention, this creates a mindset of deprivation and can actually make you crave harder and jeopardize your relationship with food.
  6. Avoid getting too hungry. Make sure to eat regularly and not allow yourself to get too hungry. Fasting is all the rage and everyone seems to be either doing it or wondering if they should do it. Fasting can be super beneficial to help with cleaning out damaged cells, in order to regenerate newer, healthier cells (autophagy) but when you fast for too long, it can create a great imbalance in your blood sugar, causing hunger and cravings. If you are choosing to fast regularly, keep your time frames on the shorter side, aiming between 12-16 hours. If you are a woman, keep those time frames in the 12-14 hour range. 
  7. Make it hard to get. This is technically a behavior change, but it falls right in line with nutritional behavior changes. One of the first line of defenses when making a habit change is to make what you want hard to get. That could be by placing it out of sight and out of mind, placing it in the highest cupboard of the kitchen (needing a step stool every time you want to get it), or even not buying it at all and only being able to get it by going to the grocery store. When you create a challenge or obstacle and it is not so easy, this delays the food to mouth time AND it also gives you more time to think about the choice that you are making. Sometimes simply creating space and time can be enough to allow you to decide that the craving is just not worth it!

Getting rid of cravings can be super complex and has many layers attached to it. Often, you have to dig and uncover those layers to get to the root cause of what is causing your cravings in the first place. This is where a coach and support system can help guide you on your journey. Are you ready to finally uncover your layers? Click here to learn more about my signature “Break Your Plateau” health coaching program!

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5 Ways To Turn A Bloated, Gassy Belly Into A Flat Belly

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Family gatherings, friend’s celebrations, and company parties can be a blast. But they can also be a recipe for digestive disaster. With the abundance of delicious foods, sugary treats, and more dehydrating beverages consumed than water, your belly might be churning with a feeling of gassy horror.

As your pant’s grip tighter around your stomach, you unbutton the button and untuck your shirt. 

You think to yourself, “Why didn’t I wear that loose dress?”

Praying that no one sees your unbuttoned pants, you get up to try and walk off the bloated, gassy feeling. 

You get engaged in a delightful conversation, but all you can do is smile with discomfort as your stomach churns and a bubble of uncomfortable pressure forms. 

You just want it to go away but you realize that this happens so often. Not just at parties but in everyday life like after your favorite meals or while you are at work. 

Bloating and gas are two of the most common gastrointestinal symptoms. It is not totally understood as to why they occur but there are some factors that play a large role in how much they present themselves. According to a research article in the Journal Of Neurogastroenterology And Motility, it says:

“Bloating is usually associated with functional gastrointestinal disorders or organic diseases, but it may also appear alone. The pathophysiology of bloating remains ambiguous, although some evidences support the potential mechanisms, including gut hypersensitivity, impaired gas handling, altered gut microbiota, and abnormal abdominal-phrenic reflexes.”

Even though there seems to be a multitude of reasons that bloating occurs, a large part is related directly to our digestion and our gut health. Hippocrates, coined as the father of modern medicine, says, “All disease begins in the gut.” And, I would say that that includes bloating and gassiness.

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Photo by Kat Jayne on Pexels.com

Let It Rip

The reality is that we just want flat bellies. Let’s be real —the average person is not going around saying “Hey, that is not good for my gut health.” But, the average person is more likely to say that she wants to fit into her skinny jeans without having to button them while laying down. The average person is also more likely to say that unexpected explosions of gas is super embarrassing!

Here are 5 of my favorite tips to not only gain a flatter belly, but to also take care of your gut health and digestion:

Slow Down Your Eating 

In a world of never-ending to-do lists and obligations, it can feel like we are constantly rushing from one thing to the next. 

Often, meals are eaten in a hurry — while driving in your car, in 15 minutes before your next client walks through the door, while running the kids around to after school activities. The problem is that eating quickly usually means swallowing some air along with your food, which can contribute to that uncomfortable feeling in your stomach. It also means that you are mindless in your eating.

True digestion starts in the brain and when you are not connected to your food, all the processes required for proper digestion are not triggered. 

  • Put your fork down between bites.
  • Think about chewing each bite. Tune into what you are eating and taste the foods and the textures. Be involved in your eating.
  • Eat smaller meals if you don’t have time to eat more slowly.
  • Sip, don’t gulp water during your meal.

Eat Fermented Foods

A large part of gut health is the amount of healthy bacteria in your gut microbiome. Not only does a healthy gut microbiome help with digestion of your food, but it also helps with keeping a strong immune system and central nervous system. Research suggests your gut bacteria are tied to your probability of things like diabetes, obesity, depression, and colon cancer. 

Not only are fermented foods an excellent way to increase the healthy gut bacteria, but they increase the bioavailable of nutrients in your foods — meaning, your body can better absorb the nutrients from your foods. Another benefit? According to the NTA (Nutritional Therapy Association), fermented foods have also been shown to reduce phytic acid, an anti-nutrient that can wreck havoc on your gut health.

  • Eat a serving of fermented foods like sauerkraut, kimchi, kefir, kombucha, or any fermented veggies most days.
  • Get sneaky by putting them on salads or as a topping for your burger. 

Hydrate, Without The Carbonation

Drinking water is probably the last thing you want to do when you feel like your belly is about to explode. 

But, it is important to stay hydrated throughout the day. With proper hydration, your body can better transport nutrients through your digestive tract. 

Ditch the sodas and other carbonated beverages. Not only can they be full of sugar, but they also will add gas to your system and increase bloating. 

  • If you need to dress up your bottle of water, add a few slices of lime or lemon or cucumbers. You can also add fresh fruit to mix it up.
  • Carry quick electrolyte and/or mineral packs to add to your water for flavor and to help your body better absorb the water. Try Trace Minerals “Power Pak” or Nuun brands.

Go For A Walk

Movement is important to beat the bloat for two main reasons: It reduces stress and it stimulates digestion. Get off the couch because feeling bloated and sluggish is no reason to skip your workout or moving your body. 

You can move gas quickly through your system with a little huffing and puffing.

  • If you suffer from slow digestion, a 15 minute walk after each meal would be a great way to improve digestion.
  • Turn on some loud music and dance the bloat away. 
  • Play tag with the kids.
  • Do some yoga or light activity if walking feels like too much for you.

Be Aware Of What You Eat 

This sounds so simple, but it is often quite overlooked.

You probably are already aware that sugar and a lot of fried foods can cause an upset, gassy stomach, but did you know that it goes beyond that? I like to believe that there are 3 main areas to be aware of:

  1. If you have any known or suspected food intolerances, that could trigger gassiness and bloating. It also can irritate the gut and cause further damage. 
  2. Decrease the amount of sugar you consume because sugar is directly related to inflammatory problems and digestive distress. If you just took down two scoops of rocky road ice cream and thought, “Ugh! Sugar gives me gas,” you may be on to something. Some people have trouble digesting certain sugars, like lactose and fructose, or have underlying digestive imbalances from Candida or SIBO (small intestinal bacterial overgrowth). If you’re in one of these groups, sugar can leave you with bloating and painful gas, even hours after eating it.
  3. Processed foods can cause much discomfort. Processed foods not only contain allergens for many, but they also often contain high levels of sodium and refined wheat and grain products. When your intake of excess sodium is too high, your body may start to retain water. This often happens because our bodies are trying to dilute salt to maintain a balance of electrolytes. Refined wheat and grain products are quite irritating for some people, worsening if you have an allergy or if your gut health is already not strong. 
  • Take a serving of digestive bitters right after a meal. One to try is Urban Moonshine.
  • Eat whole, unprocessed foods as often as you can.
  • Consume 1 Tbsp of Apple Cider Vinegar to help normalize your stomach acid pH levels.
  • Decrease the amount of sugar you eat daily. Also, limit the amount of artificial sweeteners you consume.
  • Journal your triggers to see what might be causing you digestive distress.

As you can see, beating the bloat is not always about eliminating, rather incorporating foods and activities that will improve your mental and physical state.

Remember to love yourself first. Being self-critical can contribute to that little thing we call stress, which isn’t doing anyone any favors!

References: 

Seo, A & Kim, Nayoung & Oh, Dong. (2013). Abdominal Bloating: Pathophysiology and Treatment. Journal of neurogastroenterology and motility. 19. 433-453. 10.5056/jnm.2013.19.4.433. 

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How To Get Flabuless Abs After 35

Did you know that sarcopenia, the natural loss of muscle, begins in your 30s and continues throughout your later years? You lose about 1 pound of muscle every year.

Did you know that the “middle-age spread” can appear at any age, but women may notice it most as they hit 50? You have hit the spread when the number on the scale is the same as, but your waistline may expand and the proportion of body fat to lean muscle changes.

The good news is is that it is possible to navigate through this natural process and maintain lean muscle mass while avoiding the extra belly fat that slowly creeps in during the “middle age spread. ” But how?

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In a hurry? Scroll down to the tips below to learn some easy action steps to help you get flabuless abs!

“Why can I not get rid of this fat on my stomach?”

I get asked this question all the time, especially from women and especially from women as they are getting older. Tell me, do you:

  • Feel constantly bloated and puffy around your midsection?
  • Crave more sweets and carbs, especially when you are stressed out?
  • Feel like you have no willpower?
  • Pangs of guilt every time you indulge in some of your favorite not-so healthy snacks and treats?
  • Feel like you are no longer as attractive as you used to be and are afraid that your significant other will lose interest in you?
  • Get discouraged because it doesn’t seem to matter how hard you exercise or how little you eat, you still maintain your belly fat?

You are not alone — These are all common complaints that I hear frequently and that have been plaguing the human spirit for decades.

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Photo by Victoria Heath on Unsplash

Information overload keeps us overweight

With the information overload that exists in our world, it is completely understandable why you would be confused or frustrated with your results. Some experts tell you to do one thing and other experts tell you to do the exact opposite. The reality is that not all weight-loss advice is appropriate for women and their delicate hormonal balance.

What might work for a woman in her 20’s may not be the best formula for the 50 year old woman. This is true for men as well.

Women are more likely to gain excess belly fat, especially deep inside the belly (visceral, intra-abdominal fat), as they go through perimenopause and into menopause. This is due to the fact that as estrogen levels drop, body fat is redistributed from the hips, thighs and buttocks to the abdomen. This fat can surround the organs and create more of a risk for disease.

For men, the natural reduction in testosterone that occurs as they age means excess calories are often stored as visceral fat and thus the accumulation of belly fat occurs.

There is another reason — the increase in stress levels and the cortisol connection that goes with this added stress. Research has supported the hypothesis that cortisol secretion might represent a connection between stress and abdominal fat distribution.

When we have chronic stress, the hormone cortisol is excreted at continual doses and the body is continually on high alert. Cortisol is not bad. It is actually quite vital for the body during levels of stress. Cortisol also increases our appetite for foods that are soothing and comforting. Is it typically a large salad that you crave after a long stressful day? Probably not. Typically it is sugary, salty or fatty foods. High levels of stress often increase anxiety, worry, and anger which, in turn, decreases our ability for deep recovering sleep. It can create a hug imbalance in our hormones.

With knowing all this, it may be safe to say that excessive amounts of intense exercise and extreme diets that are often associated with fat-loss may not be the best choice as we get older. It is all about increasing your body movement without overly stressing it and altering lifestyle habits to help you balance your hormones.

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Simple tips to get you started 

1. Harmonize your stress. Try a fun and relaxing night out with your friends or engaging in one of your favorite, uplifting activities. Maybe you can take a calming yoga or meditation session. Maybe you can sit with a good book while relaxing in the bathtub. One incredible technique that is scientifically proven to distress and calm your senses—Touch. Maybe it is you asking your significant other for a back or foot rub. Maybe it is going for a massage. Maybe it is you just rubbing your own arm. Whatever it is, destress today and watch how it affects your belly.

2. Simple diet changes can help your body lose it’s fat stores. Eat enough fat. Not all fats are created equal and it is being shown that it is not fat that makes us fat, it is #3 in this list. In fact, eating certain fats can help you in decreasing belly fat. Good fats that you need to be adding to your eating regime include avocado, olives, salmon and coconut oil. Including daily healthy fats will help to keep you more trim and decrease fat stores.

3. Minimize your sugar and sugary drinks. Added sugar is very unhealthy and more studies are connecting sugar with harmful effects on your metabolic health. Studies show that it has uniquely harmful effects on metabolic health. When you eat a lot of added sugar, the liver gets overloaded with fructose and is forced to turn it into fat. This can lead to an increased amount of fat in the belly and the liver; it can also lead to insulin resistance and a host of other problems. Make a decision to minimize the amount of sugar in your diet, and consider completely eliminating sugary drinks (this is like an IV of sugar blasting your body). This includes sugar-sweetened beverages, sugary sodas, fruit juices and various high-sugar sports drinks. Whole fruit is extremely healthy and has plenty of fiber to off-set the negative effects of fructose, but don’t overload on fruit. Too much sugar is too much sugar. I would recommend 1-2 servings of fruit a day.

4. Get your body moving the right way. Too much prolonged exercise can increase your chances of weight gain. Why? It is the same concept as the stress explanation above. When your body is overly stressed and not allowed enough time for recovery on a regular basis, your body starts to react by having difficulty releasing body fat. If you are excessively exercising and not taking in enough nutrients through food, your body will begin to hold onto fat as a built-in defense to make sure that your body is safe. It thinks it is in survival mode. For the average person, I would recommend 4-5 times a week of moderate exercise for 45 minutes to 1 hour a session that consists of strength training, cardio (steady states and intervals), and flexibility. Intervals and HIIT programs are very beneficial because they allow the body to fluctuate between high and low intensities, while not overly stressing the body.

5. Get your sleep. Inadequate sleep affects your appetite and causes your body to hold onto belly fat. A study published in the American Journal of Epidemiology in 2006 examined the effect of sleep on almost 70,000 women. It was found that those who regularly got less than five hours of sleep gained significantly more weight than those who slept an average of seven hours a night. Make getting seven to eight hours of sleep a priority to support your belly-fat losing efforts.

6. Eat more fiber. Getting in more fiber has been linked to lower levels of abdominal fat. Eating plenty of soluble fiber helps to slow the movement of food through your digestive system and slow down the digestion and absorption of nutrients. The end result is a feeling fuller longer and reducing your appetite. The best way to get more fiber is to eat a lot of plant foods like vegetables, fruits, legumes, oats, brown rice, and quinoa, for example.

7. Choose the right products. Choose toiletries and cleaning products that are natural alternatives. Chemicals and non-natural materials in make-up, toiletries, house cleaners, pesticides, insecticides, etc can wreck havoc on your hormones when you are exposed regularly. Did you know that chemical additives can directly increase or decrease your estrogen levels? These are called endocrine disruptors and can adversely affect your system. Choose healthier products by checking their safety levels on EPA’s website, Skin Deep.

It really is possible to lose the belly fat as you get older. It takes a will to change and some simple, consistent action steps to help you begin to see results.

What is one thing you can start to do today to create the positive change? Comment below!


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