What a battle it can be! Through peri-menopause to post-menopause, weight gain and sugar cravings can increase for so many reasons including hormone imbalance. Fluctuating hormones, higher levels of physical and emotional stress plus low motivation to exercise can so easily trigger an overwhelming urge to eat unhealthy sweet foods … and even though you know they’re unhealthy there is absolutely NOTHING you can do to stop yourself for reaching out for more.
And if you don’t have whatever you’re craving RIGHT NOW, your concentration and productivity is affected, so there is a further compulsion to reach out.
Sadly, the more you eat, the more you will crave and yet another vicious cycle perpetuates.
This in turn disrupts your hormones further, throwing out the delicate sugar balance mechanisms in the body and leading to candida overgrowth, potential weight gain and increased risk of diabetes and cardiovascular disease post menopause.
Are you her? Do you eat sugar on a regular basis, and yet still can’t seem to get enough of sweet foods? Do you find it difficult to make it through your favourite TV programme without reaching into the biscuit tin? How many times have you been moody and cranky until you manage to breathe easy with your hands on a chocolate bar?
All hope is not lost though. You can learn to stop your sugar cravings and avoid the continuing weight gain that occurs after menopause. There is a way for you to satisfy your taste buds without constantly crashing from the guilt of eating a giant size chocolate bar and that bottle of wine! Giving up sugar doesn’t have to be as difficult or make you as miserable as you may think. It doesn’t have to mean getting the shakes, being in a bad mood, or never eating chocolate again. Not only will your energy soar when you finally kick the sugar habit, you’ll generally feel so much better overall. Most importantly you’ll lose any excess pounds you’re carrying and the ageing process will slow down. You’ll definitely be more pleased with your reflection in the mirror. Promise!
Here are my top tips to help yourself beat those cravings, re-balance your hormones and halt any further weight gain. In another post I’ll explain more about candida overgrowth and give you instructions for a simple home test you can do to determine if the sugar monsters control you or you control the sugar monsters.
1. Drink water.
Sometimes your hunger for sweet cravings is actually a sign of dehydration. We often mistake our thirst for hunger, leading to cravings and desire for food, when we really just need to hydrate. Avoid alcohol and sodas, choose pure sources of hydration, such as filtered water, coconut water, or herbal teas.
2. Read the labels and know your ingredients.
Don’t just look for sugar on the label, though; sugar is often disguised as many other names, often ending with ‘ose’. Look for glucose, maltose, dextrose, syrup, caramel, dextrose, HFCS (high fructose corn syrup) and more. Remember to look for artificial sweeteners too which have the potential do more damage to your body than sugar itself eg saccharin, aspartame, sucralose. Do this with every food you eat and not just the ones you think might contain sugar. Foods labelled ‘low fat’ are often higher in sugars and you may be surprised how much sugar is in salad dressings, tomato sauce, bacon, and even bread and sausage.
Want to know the best way to ensure that the foods you eat don’t contain refined or artificial sugars? Just eat the foods Nature provides for you, she doesn’t provide anything requiring a label!
3. Curb those cravings.
A University of Georgia study found the following herbs and spices to be beneficial in curbing sugar cravings. They are rich in the antioxidant phenol which helps prevent damage and inflammation to tissues caused by high levels of blood sugar. Include them in your daily diet as much as possible.
Reducing the sugars, including more of the above will decrease the affects and signs of ageing, which can only be a good thing. More information on ageing here.
4. Get physically active.
Being active actually helps balance your blood sugar levels. Plus it will keep you happier and more energised, which can in turn can help balance hormones and reduce those cravings. Exercise regularly, at least 30 minutes five days a week. Exercise provides many benefits, especially post-menopause, when weight gain and bone density can become more of a concern.
It doesn’t have to mean sweating it out at a gym. Taking the dog for a walk or a 30 minute power walk around the block each morning will do wonders. Perhaps take up the hula-hoop for toning?
5. Have a sugar cull.
Throw out any foods in your kitchen that contain added sugar. Remember to pay attention to the ingredient list and to check for hidden forms of sugar, ie any ingredient ending with ‘ose’ and reference to HFCS (High Fructose Corn Syrup). Out of sight, out of mind. If it’s not in your kitchen, you’re a lot less likely to eat it. Keep plenty of fresh vegetables and fruits to hand.
Fresh fruits, vegetables and whole grains contain dietary fibre that slows your digestion so you can avoid blood glucose fluctuations and ravenous hunger — precursors to binging on junk food.
6. Use natural sweeteners.
No need to cut out sugar cold turkey. Ease off of it by using natural sweeteners such as raw local honey, coconut sugar and nectar, pure maple syrup, agave nectar and dried fruit.
AVOID any and all chemical sweeteners
7. Take time out.
When you’re tired or low on energy, the first nutrient often reached for is a carbohydrate. The more refined or processed the carbohydrate the higher the glucose conversion. So get plenty of sleep, rest, meditation, yoga and massages to help balance your body. A great prescription!
8. Check out your emotions.
Sugar can be craved for reasons other than natural hunger or thirst. For many, sugar can be an emotional crutch, a way to celebrate, or simply a way to relax. Take time to check out your emotions and decode your cravings when you absolutely need that piece of chocolate or cake. Identifying the real need behind the sugar craving is the key to kicking your sugar habit for good.
For example if you’re feeling bored, sad, stressed, anxious, or lonely. Identify your feelings, then pause and reflect on the action you usually take (such as reaching for a sweet treat). Try replacing comfort food with another comforting, enjoyable activity, such as going for a walk, taking a warm bath, or curling up with a good book.
9. Love your Liver!
Your liver is such a wonderful organ and works really hard on your behalf performing over 500 functions! Not only is it the main detoxifying organ of the body, filtering all the toxins you eat and put on your skin, it also helps balance the blood sugar hormones. Yet it is the most abused organ of the body. If you continue to abuse the liver it may well not function as efficiently as you would like, leading to symptoms of dis-ease. So cutting down on alcohol and other toxins showing the liver a little tender loving care would be really beneficial.
10. Keep Yourself Occupied
For some people, having just a taste is moving into dangerous territory. If you fear you won’t have the will power to stop once you start, try to distract yourself from food altogether. Go for a walk, or if you’re sitting at a desk at work, go visit a colleague for a brief chat. Standing still will only intensify your craving. Also, it helps not to make the kitchen table the centre of activity if you’re not eating. Don’t try to work on projects at home in the kitchen as being in close proximity to the fridge and larder can easily keep your mind dwelling on food.
11. Don’t confuse hunger and thirst signals
Our sense of thirst and our sense of hunger can be easily confused, so make sure you stay hydrated. You may be snacking when what your body really wants and needs is water. Remember, a hot drink like green tea will also count towards your water intake for the day and is lower in caffeine than black tea or coffee.
If you’re hit by cravings at home, another route you could take would be to meditate or nap. Since stress and fatigue can both set off cravings, clearing your mind could help stop you in your tracks before you do something destructive to your diet.
13. Be Mindful
Mindfulness around eating can be extremely powerful. One very simple suggestion is to pause for just a few seconds before you put any food in your mouth, and ask yourself “will this food nurture my body and mind, create my optimum health both through menopause and beyond?” If the answer is “no”, then throw that food away or put it out of sight and walk away.
14. Follow YourNewLifePlan Recommendations
Of course! After following the Natural Menopause Road Map workshop, which incorporate all the above, you will find that your cravings will disappear or diminish significantly as you take control of rebalancing your hormones and destroying the sugar monsters’ cries for food.
A full hysterectomy in her 30s led nutritional therapist and health coach Clare on an amazing adventure exploring the many opportunities available to manage her enforced menopause and create long-term health.
Clare prefers the natural approach, and qualifying in nutritional therapy gave her the confidence to come off HRT, take back control of her life and health, and look forward to living the best half of her life free of prescription drugs. Understanding the importance of creating harmony of health of both body and mind through menopause and beyond, she’s now on a mission to inspire, educate and empower other women, too.
Click HERE to find out more about how Clare shares her years of exploring, experience and knowledge through 1:1 consultations and online programmes, and where you can request a FREE 30 minute consultation with Clare to discuss any personal menopause symptoms/health concerns you may have.
Your invitation to your FREE 9 day guide to Staying Slim, Strong & Sane through Menopause & BeyondAccess Here