What you eat throughout the day and how you approach other lifestyle factors can increase or radically decrease your cravings for overindulging in alcohol and sugar. Going from skipping meals and dieting to make up for overindulging, to realizing it can radically improve cravings and overindulging, just by balancing your blood sugar throughout the day.
Did you know that everything you eat or don’t eat throughout the day for your meals and snacks can have an effect on the cravings you have for a glass of wine or sugar binge at the end of the day? Also, not eating at regular intervals can make your blood sugar drop, causing you to crave more and overeat at your next meal. It can also lead you to make poor choices when you decide on what to eat and can directly affect your energy level and mood. Here are some shifts you can start to make to ensure your blood sugar is balanced throughout the day:
1. Eat every 3 – 4 hours and include healthy snacks – When you eat at regular intervals, it helps keep your blood sugar stable. Going too long in between eating will cause you to become hypoglycemic and may cause you to have symptoms such as a slump in energy, headaches, sweating, feeling shaky, irregular heartbeat and anxiety. Eating meals and including snacks that contain healthy fat and protein will ensure your blood sugar levels are maintained during the day.
2. Manage your carb intake – Unfortunately, the majority of Americans eat the Standard American Diet, otherwise known as the SAD diet, which consists of excess amounts of processed foods, refined carbohydrates and added sugars, refined fats, high-fat dairy products, and red meat. This diet sets your blood sugar on a rollercoaster all day long, which can lead to cravings later in the day.
Consuming excess carbohydrates, especially in the form of refined carbs, turn into sugar in the body and cause a sudden spike in insulin levels, which throws your blood sugar levels out of whack. Eating the Standard American Diet can not only lead to blood sugar dysregulation, but to also the development of chronic disease – whether it be heart disease, diabetes, or cancer.
Consuming a well-balanced diet that consists of whole foods – healthy proteins, fats and whole grains, lots of veggies and fruits, and ensuring you are getting enough fiber, will cause you to feel satisfied and balanced, so you are not craving unhealthy substances at the end of the day. It will also enhance your overall energy, keep you at an ideal weight (or help you lose those extra pounds), improve your digestion, boost your immunity and help lower your risk for illness and disease.
3. Stay hydrated – Did you know dehydration can lead to blood sugar dysregulation and an alcohol or sweet craving? And that craving can lead to another…and another…
With busy lives, many moms forget to drink enough water to keep sufficiently hydrated, which can lead to alcohol and sugar cravings later in the day. There are numerous health benefits to drinking water throughout the day, and adequate water intake is essential for your brain and body to have proper function.
A good rule of thumb to determine if you are drinking enough water is to drink the number of ounces that is half your body weight. For example – if you weigh 140 lbs., it’s recommended that you drink a minimum of 70 oz. of water per day. More than that minimum amount is even better!
Drinking caffeinated and alcoholic beverages will dehydrate your body, so additional water should be consumed to make up for the deficiency.
Before you reach for alcohol or something sugary to fulfill that urge, drink a glass of water. Wait a few minutes and see if that urge passes. Just experiment with it.
To enhance the taste of plain water and to increase the likelihood that you will meet your water goal intake for the day, try adding some fresh lemon, lime, berries, mint, cucumber, or even a splash of 100% fruit juice.
4. Get in daily exercise/movement – Research strongly supports the benefits of exercise across a wide range of physical and mental health conditions for people of all ages. Getting in some sort of daily movement will help with maintaining blood sugar, weight, and reduce your risk of developing chronic diseases, such as cancer, heart disease, and type 2 diabetes.
Moderate physical activity, such as walking, will cause your muscles to use more glucose and will directly affect your blood sugar level, and help insulin work better overtime. Exercise can lower your blood sugar for up to at least 24 hours after by making your body more sensitive to insulin.
A few exercises to consider are: walking, cycling, swimming, playing tennis, yoga, stretching and dancing. Do whatever you enjoy to get yourself up and moving, you will be more likely to stick to a routine! Mix it up and have fun!
5. Prioritize sleep – Getting adequate sleep at night is essential for good health! Not only aiming for at least 7 – 8 hours each night, but the quality of sleep matters. Not getting the deep sleep your body and brain needs for healing and rejuvenation can directly affect blood sugar levels and insulin sensitivity, possibly leading to other health problems such as depression and type 2 diabetes. Poor sleep can also trigger an increase in appetite due to an increase in cortisol, the stress hormone, which will cause considerable dysregulation in your blood sugar levels.
Putting sleep hygiene at the top of your list will ensure you are getting the quality sleep you need. Some things you can try implementing are:
going to bed and getting up at the same time every day
turning off screens at least 1 – 2 hours before bed
avoiding caffeine later in the day
avoiding alcohol, which is a major sleep disruptor
keeping your bedroom cool
limiting your naps
incorporating an evening winddown routine such as doing some yoga stretches, deep breathing or meditation
6. Manage your stress – One of the benefits of including self-care in your daily routine is that it helps manage your stress. Stress can cause blood sugar levels to rise by causing your body to secrete the well known stress hormones – glucagon and cortisol. Using stress management techniques throughout your day can help you keep your blood sugar level in check and your anxiety level low.
Exercises and relaxation methods such as yoga, deep breathing, meditation, visualization and journaling can all support you in reducing stress, feeling well-balanced, and lowering your blood sugar levels.
Having balanced blood sugar throughout the day will do wonders for your cravings, mood, energy and overall well being. Start to become aware of how you feel throughout the day when you are practicing some of the 6 ways I mentioned above and if you notice a shift in your cravings and how you feel.