Let me start by saying to everyone of you who feel controlled by food cravings of one type or another - I get it.
I used to feel like my food cravings controlled me, and although I liked sweets, it wasn’t always sugary foods that I craved. It was things like muffins, bagels and pizza. I didn’t realize at the time that those foods actually turn into sugar in the body, so even though they didn’t always necessarily have sugar on the label, they were having the same effect on my body because they were turning into sugar.
My Typical Day
I would usually start my day with what I felt was a pretty healthy cereal (because it said so right on the box - that would definitely mean it was healthy, right?) or maybe some whole wheat toast or a bagel with honey or jam. I would feel pretty good for a bit but then by mid-morning, I was starving and would need a mid morning pick me up a short while later (maybe a muffin from the coffee shop.)
I would then have a sandwich (whole wheat bread with a cheese slice was a favourite for years) or a simple salad for lunch with a lite dressing.
By mid-afternoon, I would crash. Like, wanting to crawl under my desk for a nap type of crash. I had trouble concentrating, felt tired and even moody and needed something to eat to help me feel better. If anyone was passing treats around the office, you bet I would grab one (or two!) and would temporarily feel better again.
This would continue day after day and by the time I picked my son up from daycare it took everything in me to make dinner and clean up so we could spend time together before he went to bed. Usually, by the time I tucked him in to bed I was so tired that I fell asleep with him.
Can anyone else relate to this?
I didn’t understand what I was doing wrong because I thought I was eating healthy enough. I was buying foods that said “light,” “low fat,” “low calorie” or “healthy” on the package because that’s what I had grown up believing. I really was trying to make healthy choices.
Little did I realize, the way I was eating was creating the perfect storm for a blood sugar imbalance.
I was cutting out the very foods that would keep me fuller, longer and instead, focusing on foods that would spike my blood sugar and then crash again shortly afterwards.
The foods that I started my day with at breakfast were setting me up for a blood sugar imbalance all day long - and lunch was no better. No wonder I was exhausted and had out of control cravings by evening!
Since becoming a nutritionist, I’ve learned that almost always, cravings for carbs indicate a blood sugar imbalance. I hadn’t realized that when I was buying foods that were marketed as “diet foods” or “healthy foods” I was missing out on some much-needed nutrients and my body was letting me know by signalling cravings.
Many times when we experience that afternoon energy crash, it’s because of what we ate at breakfast and lunch. When simple carbohydrates are eaten on their own it can quickly satisfy your hunger and give you an energy boost, but both are only temporary, and it leaves you craving more simple carbs when energy drops a few hours later.
And then you’re on a blood-sugar rollercoaster, and the cycle continues over and over. This cycle will ultimately lead to weight gain, as well as a lot of other health issues, because many diseases actually begin with blood sugar issues.
Willpower vs. Blood Sugar
And, if you team willpower up against blood sugar issues, the willpower will lose every time. As I learned firsthand, and is true for you as well, your lack of willpower is not your fault.
Once you eat in a way that balances your blood sugar, you stay fuller, longer and the cravings subside. Your mood is better balanced and you have energy that lasts throughout the day (with energy to spare for a family walk in the evening.)
When I finally started having energy to go for a walk in the evening again, it’s like life started opening back up for me. When I purposefully started eating in a way that would balance my blood sugar, it made all the difference. And, it wasn’t even that hard to do - I just needed to know where the problem lay, so I could do something about it.
The solution is to balance your blood sugar, which as I’ve learned for myself, will go a long way towards getting rid of those cravings and increasing your willpower.
5 Tips To Balance Your Blood Sugar And Overcome Cravings
Let's Do This Together!
Want to tackle your cravings together? Join me for a FREE 5-DAY SUGAR-FREE CHALLENGE! We’re going to run through it together in my private Facebook group “Nutrition And Lifestyle Strategies For Women” starting November 12th (it’s always more fun when we do it together and accountability and support never hurt, right?)
Simply sign up HERE ahead of time, so you’ll have everything you need when we get started on Nov 12th!
Until next time,
We’ve been hearing for years that sugar is bad for us and causes weight gain, and that information led to the onset of artificial sweeteners, especially in the diabetes and weight loss industries.
Artificial sweeteners have actually been around for decades (and one in particular since the late 1800’s), with several being banned and then re-introduced again later on.
Before we begin, let’s back up a bit to find out more about how artificial sweeteners even came to be.
Let’s start with sugar.
Why is this toxin so prevalent in our society? Most people aren’t even aware of what they are eating. One third of dietary sugar comes from soft drinks, making soda the #1 dietary source of sugar.
(Please note that when I talk about sugar here, I am referring to refined sugar and the over-abundance of it that is added to our packaged and processed foods, and not naturally occuring sugars in whole foods that actually contain beneficial nutrients.)
The statistics in this blog are based on American data, however for my fellow Canadians, we can anticipate numbers close to these.
Americans average about 55 gallons of soda per year and it takes 30 cups of water to neutralize 1 can of soda.
High fructose corn syrup increased from 0% of American diets in 1966 to 63lbs a year in 2001.
The average American drinks 55 Gallons of Soda per year!
Sugar is in everything and these are just a few examples of things you might not expect it to be in:
Pasta sauces, Lunch meats, Canned foods, Condiments like ketchup & Mayonnaise, Sauces, Salad Dressings, Crackers, Fruit Drinks, Yogurt, Snacks, Breads.
Balancing blood sugar is a primary component of the work I do with my clients and also in my 5-DAY SUGAR-FREE CHALLENGE because blood sugar balance is that important.
For those wanting to lose weight, long-term weight loss will NOT happen if blood sugar is not balanced.
A few facts about sugar:
If sugar is so bad, is there anything worse than sugar?
Why yes, there is.
Introducing Artificial Sweeteners
Artificial sweeteners have long been positioned as “guilt free” and safe alternatives, causing many people to turn to them. We know now that “safe” and artificial sweeteners do not belong in the same sentence.
The slogan for Splenda is that it is made from sugar so it tastes like sugar. Strictly speaking this statement is true. However, by the time a single sugar molecule is transformed into Splenda it becomes something completely different.
Some serious side effects: gastrointestinal problems, seizures, dizziness, migraines, blurred vision, allergic reactions, blood sugar increases, weight gain, carcinogenic potential when cooking, and Splenda could kill as much as 50 percent of your microbiome.
Here are a few reasons artificial sweeteners negatively impact both your waistline and your health:
1. Artificial sweeteners mess with your brain chemistry and metabolism.
We’re led to believe that because diet soft drinks are calorie free or low-calorie that they’re a good option for our waist size, but the opposite is actually true. Drinking diet soft drinks can make you gain weight because the stimulate your taste buds and trick them to think you’re eating real sugar. Your body becomes confused and revs up the production of insulin, your fat-storage hormone. This causes your metabolism to slow down, which causes you to burn less calories every day. You then become even hungrier and more prone to eating carbs (like pasta and bread). Increased belly fat is the result.
(Fact: Artificial sweeteners can be 1000 times sweeter than sugar!)
2. Artificial sweeteners increase your risk for diabetes.
Studies are showing that sugar substitutes can increase your risk for type 2 diabetes, metabolic syndrome and weight gain, among other things.
3. Artificial sweeteners are highly addictive (even more than sugar!)
Artificial sweeteners can become addictive quickly and diet sodas can be really hard to give up. We’ve been midled to thinking they’re guilt-free alternatives to regular soda. The truth is losing weight in NOT all about the calories. Blood sugar imbalance, hormone balance and metabolism have everything to do with weight loss, and artificial sweeteners mess with all three of these.
These sweeteners also alter your food preferences. They’re so incredibly sweet that your palate shifts from being able to enjoy fruits, veggies and whole foods to liking only the super sweet stuff. This is why I help people avoid sugar entirely for the full 5-days in my 5-DAY SUGAR-FREE CHALLENGE, so they can reset their taste buds, so to speak, making it much easier to be satisfied with the taste of real, whole foods again.
So what can we use as a sweetener?
Stevia and xylitol can be used without raising blood sugar. Other natural sweeteners, but that do spike blood sugar and should be used in moderation are honey, dates and maple syrup. These contain beneficial nutrients as well.
In my 5-DAY SUGAR-FREE CHALLENGE, I guide you through the best and worst sweeteners, and show you which sweeteners can be used in moderation after the challenge is over, so you can take back control of your cravings, without giving up all sweets.
Let's talk about diet food, and why it’s keeping people overweight, tired and moody. Now before I get started I want to tell you that I used to fall for the diet food trap as well. I used to look for products that said “diet, lite, zero percent fat or low-fat.”
(Don't feel like reading? Watch the video above - it contains the same information)
In the past, you would never catch me buying full-fat anything! All my salad dressing were lite, my cheese slices, my yogourt was zero percent fat. When I had a salad I would have all veggies and no protein or fat because in my mind, that would make me fat.
I had believed that this would help me to maintain my weight or help me to lose a few pounds when I had gained a bit.
What I couldn’t figure out at the time was why I was so tired all the time I was moody, irritable and anxious and by the time the evening rolled around I was cravings carbs and junk food. I wanted chips, candy, pizza, cookies, you name it, I craved it.
I was constantly relying on willpower to resist eating more, and ultimately the willpower would fail and I would feel like I was just not strong enough. Every afternoon around 2 o'clock, I felt like crawling my desk and taking a nap.
By the time I left work and picked my son up from daycare and made dinner, I was usually too tired to do anything else. And then I would feel guilty because I hadn’t spent any time having fun with my son. And when I did force myself anyway, I really had to drag my butt to do it.
Years later, after studying nutrition, I realized why everything I was doing was not working for me, and that eating these ‘diet’ foods, was setting me up to fail and creating a blood sugar imbalance.
Diet foods are usually highly processed and mostly simple carbohydrate based and almost always sugar is added to compensate for the fat being taken away, because it would taste horrible otherwise!
High carbs and low fat are a bad combination when it to weight loss and your health. It’s impossible to feel good, have energy and a balanced mood when you’re relying on diet foods.
It’s no wonder my willpower could not win against this. I was fighting against blood sugar issues caused by eating mostly simple carbohydrates, and not enough healthy fats and protein.
When you team willpower against a blood sugar imbalance, willpower will lose every single time.
I realized that my lack of willpower was not all my fault.
And if you’re stuck in a cycle of craving carbs and feeling like it’s just too hard to make the food choices you want to make and that you’re not strong enough, it’s not your fault either.
There’s a good chance that you’re fighting against blood sugar issues as well, caused by eating too many simple carbohydrates.
I really had thought I was making good choices when I would have just lettuce and veggies with a light salad dressing for my lunch, however, I wasn’t getting the proper balance of nutrients my body needed and always felt hungry shortly afterwards.
And then of course the energy crash a few hours later, the resulting cravings for more carbs, and ultimately giving in to grabbing a muffin or a bagel or something sweet to pick me up.
Getting off the blood sugar roller coaster and making sure that that every meal and snack that I eat has a balance of protein, fats and carbs was a game-changer for me, and when I don’t, my body will let me know with either cravings, tiredness or feeling irritable.
So I encourage you to ditch the diet foods, and instead reach for foods that are real, whole foods as close to nature as possible.
Include healthy fats and proteins with every meal, so you can easily say no to the foods that are keeping you stuck in yo-yo dieting, have more energy, and a more balanced mood.
One of the biggest challenges for most of, is trying to eat healthy when you’re on the go. When you’re playing chauffeur for your kids many activities, after you’ve been working all day.
To help you out, I’ve created a guide to make it easier to still eat healthy when you’re the go, so you don’t have to rely on fast food that will keep you keep you from your goals.
Download your FREE HEALTHY EATING ON THE GO GUIDE HERE.
Until next time,
May Anne xo
When I talk to other women about their health, the topic of fatigue almost always comes up, and more specifically, it’s the afternoon energy crash that happens somewhere between 2:00 and 3:00 in the afternoon.
(Don't feel like reading? Just watch the video, it contains the same information.)
A lot of times, when that energy crash comes, it’s because of what we ate at breakfast and lunch.
When simple carbohydrates are eaten on their own it can quickly satisfy your hunger and give you an energy boost, but both are only temporary, and it leaves you craving more simple carbs when your energy drops a few hours later. And then you’re on a blood-sugar rollercoaster.
So when you eat simple carbs, like bread or pasta, make sure to pair it up with a healthy fat and a protein to balance your blood sugar, so you prevent the energy crash and so you’ll feel fuller longer. When you include protein, from either plant or animal sources, and good fats like avocados, nuts and seeds and healthy oils like coconut oil and extra-virgin olive oil your meal is more 'fulfilling' and contains the proper balance of nutrients, which will keep your energy levels up.
There’ll be no need for cravings because your body has what it needs. The body only craves things because it’s missing something. These simple changes in your eating will make a big difference in your energy levels throughout the day.
Another reason for a lack of energy is not getting enough daylight and movement. Our bodies were not created to sit indoors at a desk all day long without daylight and the ability to move around. But I also get that’s the reality for a lot of people because it was my reality for many years. That doesn’t mean there aren’t things you can do though. Try getting out for a walk on your lunch break for both exercise and daylight.
Exposure to daylight will help your natural rhythm, with the bonus of helping you sleep better at night.
Last but not least, water is a simple and really effective way to boost your energy levels. Every system in your body needs it, and when we don’t have enough, we become dehydrated, and dehydration leads to feeling tired. Try drinking 8 glasses of water in between meals spread throughout the day and see how much better you feel.
Don’t wait until you’re thirsty, because by that time you’re probably already dehydrated.
So here you have 3 simple, yet really effective changes that will help boost your energy throughout the day.
If you try these tips and you’re still finding yourself dropping tired in the afternoon, there may be more going on and I would love to help you by looking into it further with you. Just send me an email HERE.
Until next time,
When I work with clients in my programs, one of the first things we start with is a kitchen cleanout, and the reason we do this is to get rid of the foods that are not only harmful to your health but will tempt you and make it harder to lose weight.
We then focus on replacing them with foods that will nourish your health and bring you closer to your goals.
(If you don't feel like reading, just click PLAY on the video above. It contains the same information!)
It’s really important to understand that having the proper foods available, and removing the foods that get in the way of your goals, is essential for success.
Sugar is a huge one and anyone who’s been listening to me for any length of time knows this. Excess sugar gets stored as fat and it also causes our insulin receptors to become burned out, which can result in diabetes. Sugar also creates cravings for more sugar.
Something to remember as well is that refined grains turn into sugar in your body. These are things like bread, pasta, white rice…anything made with flour.
So remember that when you eat those things, they’re getting turned into sugar in your body and they’re getting stored as fat if you’re not burning them off right away.
If you take a look at your condiments like ketchup, mustard, stir-fry sauces and salad dressing, sugar is almost always in them.
A lot of times it’s disguised under names you don’t recognize, so it takes a bit of a detective work, but basically, if you’re buying your condiments from the regular aisles in the grocery store chances are, they contain hidden sources of sugar, sodium and unhealthy fat.
All of these make it harder to lose weight.
It’s important to start reading the ingredients on the labels. You want to look for a minimal amount of ingredients on the label. The less, the better.
You can always dress the food up when you get home. Avoid ingredients you can’t pronounce because they were probably made in a lab somewhere.
Buy more foods that don’t have labels, because what you see is what you get. Examples are fruits and vegetables.
Remember that just because something says it’s healthy on the label, doesn’t mean that it is.
Sugar could still be the first ingredient when companies make these boisterous claims. Once you get into the habit of reading labels, it will quickly become a habit and you’ll know what to look for.
Items that say low in fat, lite, low-calorie doesn’t make them healthy.
We want to avoid these.
These often have added sugar or flavour enhancers that cause weight gain. We need the fat anyways. It keeps us fuller longer.
I want to make it super easy for you to start reducing sugar in your diet, so you can get closer to your goals.
All you have to do is click HERE for my FREE 5-DAY SUGAR-FREE CHALLENGE, so you can be armed with the knowledge to reduce sugar from your diet, without giving up all sweets.
As always, I’d love to hear your thoughts on this video so feel free to post in the comments!
I’ll see you next time.
PS. Remember to grab my FREE 5-DAY SUGAR-FREE CHALLENGE, so you can start reducing the sugar in your diet and reducing your waistline!
May Anne Jordens-LaFlamme is a Registered Holistic Nutritionist and the owner of "Wellness with May Anne." She is passionate about helping women look and feel their best, so they can live a more fulfilling life - without dieting, deprivation, relying on willpower or cooking separate meals for the family.