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  • Writer's picturePat Birnie

Want the fool-proof secret to getting rid of cravings for good? (keep reading....)

My name is Pat and I'm an addict. (sugar addict that is;) This is not news to most of my friends and readers. The phrase 'I have a sweet tooth" is 100% an understatement. When you grow up eating dessert at lunch and dinner every single day it's no surprise! I hate to admit it, but I did the same disservice to my kids - cookies or some similar treat at lunch, something a little more elaborate (almost always home-baked) at dinner. Both of my parents, all of my siblings, and all of my children LOVE sweets. Of course, these treats, like everything else are okay in moderation. Unfortunately I'm an all or nothing kind of girl.

As I became more informed and thoughtful about food as fuel, and ultimately built my health biz, I realized that this needed to change. My goal is to do everything I can to live a long healthy life and feed my cells well to serve me and keep me active over the years. Of course there are no guarantees in life, but making good choices is important.

When discussing a change in eating habits with clients & friends over the years, the most common complaint I would hear is crazy cravings for sweet or salty foods. Why is it impossible to keep potato chips in the house, or what is behind ripping open a bag of chocolate chips and stuffing a handful in your mouth? (guilty on the second one)

It's because addiction to carbohydrates and sugar is a real thing. Sugar has been compared to cocaine in its potential to addiction! When you learn how it affects your brain, this makes total sense.

In order to change our eating habits, first we need to deal with this demon. Otherwise you may end up in a cycle of deprivation and binging. We all know that this is unhealthy and can also bring on feelings of guilt and shame. First let's understand what's behind these cravings, then look at effective strategies to eliminate cravings.

When you eat a sugary product, there is actually a release of dopamine that creates a short term high and a surge in energy. This is followed by a crash that can result in fatigue, and surprise, a craving for more. A typical North American diet of bagel for breakfast, mid morning muffin, sandwich and chips for lunch and pasta for dinner, is a recipe for these highs & lows. If you are thinking "I never eat cakes or cookies, but rather crave bread, chips or french fries, so this doesn't apply to me", think again. These foods are complex carbs that the body breaks down into simple sugars, with the same effect on your body.

I have a surefire solution! I know it works as as I have been managing my cravings for well over a decade. What's the key? Low Glycemic Eating most of the time. The "Glycemic Index" is a measure of how specific foods affect our blood sugar. Here's a simple explanation: "Some foods can pump a lot of sugar into the blood stream in a short period of time. Foods that increase blood glucose levels quickly are called high-glycemic foods. Others let go of small amounts of glucose over the course of several hours. These are low-glycemic foods." Want more details? Check out this article. It is chock full of info on glycemic load and also some ideas of where foods fall on the glycemic index.

I started eating Low GI over 10 years ago, and I promise you that I can 100% control my cravings. Since I was/am a hardcore sugar addict, the key really was long term discipline and consistency. I started with a 5 Day Reset, a miracle in a box, long ago. I truly didn't think I'd survive the week, but since the shakes have a little sweetness to them, it was manageable. I continued with a maintenance program which included a low-glycemic shake for breakfast, and low glycemic snacks and meals for the rest of the day.

A day's meals for me looks something like this:

Breakfast - Nutrimeal Free shake with berries & 1/2 banana

Snack - honestly - I rarely have a snack as the shakes keeps me full until lunch, but if I do it could be some almonds or a piece of fruit.

Lunch - a huge salad that includes a hard boiled egg for protein, feta cheese because it's yummy, some berries and a sprinkling of nuts or seeds

Snack - Again it depends on how busy I am but a good option is hummus with veggies or whole grain crackers

Dinner - For the past few years our meals have been mostly vegetarian, so it's often a veggie/bean concoction or stir fry. An easy low-glycemic meal is a sheet pan dinner consisting of chicken, a mixture of veggies such as carrots, peppers, onions etc and a sweet potato cut into wedges -- drizzle with olive oil, some spices and roast for 30-40 minutes. Yumm!!

Are you noticing a trend? Almost everything mentioned here is a 'whole food' very little comes from a box, bag or the freezer. That's a pretty easy guideline to follow - you really can't overeat on "the right foods". So here's the amazing thing - another miracle. By following these practices for years my body has learned how to easily switch back to low glycemic practices, after a period of going back to my old ways. When we go out for dinner, on vacation, or even to the cottage for the weekend I pretty much eat what I want. The 'miracle' to me is that when I say 'enough', time to get back on get back on track, it's is basically effortless! It's almost like a muscle memory thing -- plus you realize that you actually feel better when you put the right things in you body.

Whatever your motivation I highly recommend you consider a low-glycemic diet. Unlike other plans (keto, paleo...) there are no foods or food groups off limit. I cannot image being unable to eat certain fruits or beans and legumes??!! Don't let your cravings control you -- it definitely feels better when you are in charge.

If this sounds a like a plan that you'd like to try, I am happy to supply some resources and answer any questions you may have. Email or text anytime! ( or 905-330-5266)

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