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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10 Fall Foods To Decrease Bloating

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Stretchy pants and oversized tops — the fashion staples for any food-centered gathering. 

Nothing can turn that upbeat, light-hearted laugh into a grimace faster than the pressure of a tight waistband. And as that waistband grips tighter and the button proves to be an unforgiving force, with a flick of the fingers, your button becomes undone — allowing a sigh of relief and some room to breath. 

It is embarrassing. Frustrating. Uncomfortable.

Not to mention gassy. 

Or maybe this is just a normal day for you. Maybe finding the perfect pair of jeans that makes you feel confident enough to strut your stuff feels like a dream of the past. 

Regardless if the bloating happens occasionally or regularly, your self-consciousness tends to raise and all you can focus on is your belly in all it’s uncomfortable, expanding glory.

Not All Bloating Is Equal

Belly bloat is normal after we eat. As the stomach works to process the influx of food, a slight bloating and fullness is expected. It can mean that you just enjoyed a delicious, nourishing meal. It is the degree of bloating, the side effects, and the root cause that are actually the issues. 

There are a plethora of reasons that bloating occurs — eating a good meal, medical problems, eating high amounts of salt or carbs, eating too quickly, menstruation, stress, fizzy drinks, lack of exercise, just to name a few.   

The foods that you eat are going to play a direct role in how your body responds. This is definite. But there is another area that is of particular concern, regardless of what you are eating and all of your other bio-individual factors.

Eating too quickly.

Your digestion starts in your brain. When you eat too quickly, your brain can not signal fast enough for the rest of your digestion processes to get the message to begin, therefore not allowing your digestion to run smoothly and efficiently. 

Here are 10 foods to help you decrease the bloat this fall. As you incorporate them, eat them slowly and chew thoroughly for the best results!

1. Fennel

Fennel, especially its seeds, relaxes muscles in your gastrointestinal (GI) tract to help relieve that gassy feeling. When you drink it as a tea, it can help as a diuretic, flushing out fluid. 

2. Ginger

Ginger is anti-inflammatory and can help ease an unsettled digestive system, potentially helping reduce bloating by reducing gas and constipation. When you’re feeling bloated, try sipping on ginger tea or adding dried or fresh grated ginger to your food.

3. Avocado

Avocado is known to be high in Omega-3’s and a powerful healthy fat, but it is also high in fiber — a prebiotic that can help feed the healthy bacteria in your gut. This helps to decrease gas and constipation, often a precursor to bloating. 

4. Lemons

Lemon water is my favorite first thing in the morning! Lemon juice if very similar to your stomach’s acid levels. Lemon helps to stimulate your liver to release bile, which can help you better digest food and keep things moving.

5. Turmeric

Turmeric is a warm, healing, anti-inflammatory spice that may help with bloating. Since chronic inflammation can lead to fluid retention, lowering inflammation systemically in the body can also lower stomach bloating. 

6. Pumpkin

Pumpkin is rich in fiber and moisture. It is also lower in starch and sugar, making it excellent for decreasing bloating. Because of its fiber content, it’s great for easing gas, bloating, and constipation.

7. Celery

Celery is high in fiber and can help to keep you regular, but it goes beyond that. It naturally fights fluid retention and can help diminish intestinal gas.

8. Rosemary

Did you know that rosemary is already used to treat indigestion in Europe? Rosemary is a member of the tummy-friendly mint family and can help the digestion process.

9. Yogurt

Yogurt is filled with probiotic goodness—good bacteria that populates your GI tract to support a healthy digestive process and calm inflammation. In gut health, probiotics are super important, especially when you are looking to combat bloating and gas. If you are lactose intolerant, you can try kefir.

10. Butternut Squash

Butternut squash contains plenty of potassium to support fluid balance. 

There are plenty of foods that can help support less bloating. Try using some of these supportive foods the next time you are whipping up a communal meal or cooking a quick Tuesday night dinner!

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5 Ways To Instantly Lower Your Stress

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Life’s chaos are like ribbons.

They wave and dance in and out of your life but, when some of those ribbons brush up against your skin? WHAM! 

A sting of pain — Some of those ribbons have thorns and others may feel like sandpaper and others get wrapped around you, holding your down and not letting you walk forward in life.

Another word for life’s chaos? Stress.

As my friend, Katie, and I sat and talked, I brought up the word “harmony” and how harmony resonates with me when talking about stress, rather than referring to stress as balanced or managed. Katie’s face softened, a smile emerged, and a glimmer of resonance filled her face as she sunk into the concept of stress harmony. 

Here is the real deal — life is chaotic. It is never truly balanced and nor should it be. We need to have stress to fuel our drive to be great. 

We need to have stress to inspire us to create. 

We need to have stress to persevere. But the question is, where is your line in the sand? 

Stress only truly becomes toxic and burdensome when it is either heavy and negative or when it becomes chronic. When life hands us lemons and we decide to suck on the lemon instead of turning it into lemonade, that’s when harmony flies right out the window.

That’s when we feel overwhelmed and frustrated and out of control. 

We all know that too much chronic stress is unhealthy for us. Every Tom, Mary, and Joe tells us so. But on a deeper level, stress can set up us for future pains and aches and major health issues. Immediately, you might experience:

  • Low energy
  • Headaches
  • Upset stomach, including diarrhea, constipation, and nausea
  • Aches, pains, and tense muscles
  • Chest pain and rapid heartbeat
  • Insomnia
  • Frequent colds and infections
  • Loss of sexual desire and/or ability
  • Food cravings
  • Depression and other mood imbalances
  • Blood sugar imbalances

But, in the long term, you may experience:

  • Heart disease
  • High blood pressure
  • Diabetes
  • Obesity
  • Weakened immune system
  • Sexual dysfunction
  • Gastrointestinal disorders
  • Skin irritation
  • Respiratory infections
  • Autoimmune diseases
  • Insomnia
  • Burnout
  • Depression
  • Anxiety disorders
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD
  • Alzheimer’s or Dementia

Stress is not just physical or mental/emotional, there is so much more that can cause stress in your life. Stressful situations are energy and how you perceive those situations directly affect your own personal energy — good or bad.  The key to bringing it into harmony is to address it in real time — not just when you get a chance or when your schedule allows for it. It is easy to forget and push it aside, downplaying the effect that it has on you. This is the first step of letting it get out of control.

Here are 5 easy ways you can get back into harmony from a mind, body, and soul perspective:

  1. Get grounded. Grounding, aka Earthing, has gotten much attention. Research has shown that grounding neutralizes free radicals, improves sleep, decreases pain, decreases stress, improves inflammation, strengthens the immune system, just to name a few benefits. And it is easy to do — all you have to do is get your bare feet or hands in dirt or on a natural surface to reap the benefits. Getting grounded is essential to start healing your stress. Check out my blog on grounding to get all the details.
  2. Explore nature. Nature has a calming effect that can instantly decrease our stress levels. Spending time in nature can help relieve stress and anxiety, improve your mood, and boost feelings of happiness and wellbeing. Whatever you call it — forest bathing, ecotherapy, mindfulness in nature, green time or the wilderness cure — humans evolved in the great outdoors, and your brain benefits from a journey back to nature. Take a bike ride around your neighborhood or check out local trails to go hiking. Simply sit out on your porch or in your yard. Or you can…
  3. Go for a walk. It is well known that moving the body improves your health, but being strategic in how you use exercise to manage your stress levels is key. When the body is stressed, it is already in a very heightened state. Engaging in exercise that is too aggressive or that will raise the stress levels even more (yes, exercise does place stress on the body) may not be what your body needs when trying to calm down. Going for a walk is a great way to move the body, loosen the muscles, increase feel-good endorphins to the brain, and give you thinking time to work through your stressful problems. Start with 15 minutes and increase it as you can.
  4. Practice gratitude. Being grateful and being stressed can not co-exist. They simply can not happen at the same time because they are on opposite ends of the emotional spectrum. When you are feeling stressed, take a moment to breathe and then practice gratitude for the things that are good in your life. Stress is all perspective and when you actively and consciously make an effort to change your perspective towards gratitude, you begin to break the chain of negative thinking, opening your thoughts and your brain to being able to figure out how to work through your stressful situation. Practicing gratitude is super easy! You can simply start saying out loud what you are grateful for and why or you can pull out your journal and write it down. Need more ideas of how to practice gratitude? Check out my infographic here. 
  5. Breathe and reframe. The breath is powerful. A shallow, tight breath increases the body’s stress and an open, deeper breath can instantly calm the body. Learning how to expand the breath to come from the entire torso rather than just the chest is a great tool to use in the moment of stress. How do you do it? Take 5-10 deep breaths allowing your torso to expand in all directions (like you are trying to create a barrel shape). Breath in for 4 counts, hold for 4 counts, and exhale for 4 counts. But it doesn’t stop there. Since stress is about a person’s perspective on the situation, it is even more powerful to couple breathing and reframing the mindset in real time. I like doing this with power statements. For example, Perform the breath described above and immediately say a power statement such as “I am in control.” Repeat the process until you have completed all the breaths. You can use the same power statement or a different one, it really is about what you need in that moment. 

Learning how to take back control of your stress is possible. Living in a chaotic world does not have to be. Stress is all about perspective — when you can learn how to calm down your body and reframe your perspective, life starts to open up!

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8 Tips To Avoid Overeating During The Holidays

“I’ll just skip dessert.” 

Was what I would tell myself foolishly as I saddled up to the dinner table, enticed by all the delicious, decadent dishes and rich foods. I actually thought that my willpower had a chance.

The smells penetrated by nose — the sweet aroma filling the kitchen from hours of turkey roasting in the oven, the cinnamon and nutmeg from fresh baked pumpkin pie, and the peppery buttery goodness of creamy mashed potatoes. My senses were heightened and my stomach was growling. I had a serious love affair with sugar.

people sitting beside table
Photo by cottonbro on Pexels.com

Yet, I actually thought that my willpower had a chance!

A little of this and a little of that become second helpings of a lot of this and a lot of that. My stomach full and my pant’s button cutting into my skin, surely I was satisfied and I could victoriously push myself away from that dinner table.

Can you believe that I actually STILL thought that my willpower had a chance?!

And then the dreaded words of defeat were uttered. “Who is ready for dessert.”

As my salivary glands started to go into overdrive and my thoughts intermingled with bites of pumpkin pie deliciousness, I knew that my willpower had no chance.

Whomp, whomp!

Willpower has no chance against your stronger emotional senses. Smells and feelings and family connections and the flooding of hormonal functions that all of this creates puts a big, fat piece of pumpkin pie on your willpower so that you can not even see it wiggling underneath or hear it calling for help.

But there are specific little actions you can take to better stronghold your willpower and keep your emotions and hormones from grabbing the steering wheel and driving off the cliff into a sugar coma. Here are 8 served up just for you!

TansyRodgers70

  1. Sneak in a workout before your meal. Outside of off-setting some of those extra calories, a few other things are happening in the background. First, you are releasing the feel good hormones into the brain that naturally come from exercise. Since typically overeating is associated with stress, exercise can help to calm the stress and relax your body, decreasing the release of ghrelin, the appetite inducing hormone. If you are exercising, it can also mean that you have a health goal in mind and you are more prone to choosing healthier options.
  2. Remember, size matters. Choosing smaller plates and bigger forks trick the brain into thinking you are getting more food or that your portion size is bigger than what it actually is. According to an article published by NCBI in 2013, smaller plates means you could eat up to 45% less food simply because you can not pile as much food onto a smaller plate.
  3. Pause, then reach for seconds. No one says you can’t fill up your plate a second time if you really want to. But wait at least 20 minutes. It takes about that long for partially digested food to reach the small intestine and trigger the release of hormones that signal feelings of fullness. If you still really want seconds, then go for it — Eat.
  4. Be a positive pusher. You can make all the right choices, but there are still those folks that push you to eat more or to try that dish. Instead of getting flustered, ultimately giving into temptation, emphasize how good you feel right now and that you feel fully satisfied. Not only will this help grandma to put away the ladle, but it will also help you to connect your brain into your stomach and body cues — decreasing your chance of mindlessly overeating.
  5. Plan ahead. Remember last week’s article about planning ahead by bringing a healthy meal? Here is your chance! Eat that dish first or give yourself a hefty helping to offset your hunger before you dive into more decedent treats.
  6. Eat slowly and mindfully. The first two bites of your food are the most flavorful and delicious. Be hyper-focused to those first two bites because they can dictate how your brain tunes into the rest of the meal and how satisfied you may feel. Pay attention to the smell, the taste, the texture, the temperature, and any other sensation that pops up. It also takes 15-20 minutes for the brain to signal to the stomach that you are full. If you are not careful, you could pack in a lot of extra food during that time.
  7. Guzzle up water. Drinking water hydrates the body, which signals the brain that you may not be as hungry as you thought you were. Not only for the brain power, but it also fills up the stomach. I do recommend drinking 16 ounces of water before your meal, but refrain from drinking water during your meal, unless you really have to. That can inhibit your digestion.
  8. If you plan to drink alcohol, make it a post-game event. Speaking of staying hydrated, make sure you are drinking water between any alcoholic beverages. Hydrating is key, but it will also slow you down between drinks. Remember, alcohol can sabotage your self control and fool you into thinking you still have room in your stomach for a few more slices of pie.

What is your favorite tip above? Tell me in the comments below!

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