Have you ever been tempted to cave-in and buy that candy bar at the grocery store checkout? Was it the same candy bar that you had easily passed by dozens of times before? If so, had it been a while since you last ate? Do not blame yourself and think that you are weak with no willpower. Your brain may be sabotaging you.
A recent study conducted by researchers at the University of Southern California and Yale University has shown that when the glucose (sugar) levels in the blood drop, people are less able to control their desire for high-calorie foods.
Apparently the prefrontal cortex (front part of the brain) loves glucose. When blood glucose levels drop, the prefrontal cortex loses its ability to control an urgent need to eat. This urgent need is sent to it from the striatum. The striatum is inside the forebrain and acts as the interface between the evolved frontal lobes and the ancient areas of the brainstem.
When high-calorie foods are around and in sight, the body craves them even more. It is very difficult to fight the basic instincts of the brain. The study did suggest that the best way to fight this urge is to keep the blood’s glucose level even by eating healthy foods.
Beat Sugar Cravings
Maintaining consistent blood sugar levels is similar to following a diabetic diet. Diabetics closely monitor their intake of carbohydrates, protein, and fats. They also eat at regular intervals. This helps to keep the blood sugar from getting too high or too low.
- Eat regular meals and snacks. Three meals a day with snacks in-between will prevent blood sugar dips. Do not skip a meal because this will set your brain into action and it will have control over what you eat. Keep healthy snacks handy, like a granola bar in your desk drawer or car, to keep from getting to that starvation point.
- Eat complex carbohydrates. These include whole grains, low-fat dairy products, fruits, vegetables, and legumes like beans, peas, and lentils. They are absorbed slower than simple carbohydrates like white sugar, fruit juice, candy, white flour, and any processed, refined sugars. Simple carbohydrates raise the blood sugar quickly and then it drops quickly.
- Eat foods with high fiber. It is digested slowly and regulates the blood sugar. Choose foods like whole grains, legumes, nuts, fruits, and vegetables.
- Eat healthy fats and protein. These also are absorbed slowly. Good fats include oils like olive, peanut, and canola. Healthy protein can include fish as well as lean cuts of red meat, chicken, and pork.
The main key is to not let yourself get to the point where you are so hungry that your brain takes over and that candy bar at the grocery checkout is in line with the other items. Following these recommendations will not only beat sugar cravings, but will lead to an overall healthier lifestyle.
Find other useful information and tools, such as a weight loss calculator at LowFatDietPlan.org.
- How to Eat Whatever You Like and Stay Healthy (detoxcleansing.org)
- Top Appetite Suppressant Foods: Foods with Protein (dietcleanse.org)