Controlling Your Sugar Cravings

 

If your kids are like most kids, controlling their cravings for sweets is a never-ending battle. Whether they are playing at home, at school or hanging out with friends, it is a struggle that many children experience. Can I get a witness?

At this point, some of you might be asking the question, “Is that really a problem?” Well, yes, it can be. Did you know that too much sugar consumption can lead to an unbalanced blood sugar level? An unbalanced blood sugar level can significantly increase the risk of developing conditions later in life such as diabetes, heart disease and metabolic syndrome. Conversely, maintaining a balanced blood glucose level can be a life-sustaining practice and possibly a life-saving practice. I’m not referring only to children with diabetes, but also to healthy children as well. 

Let’s be real – hidden sugar is omnipresent in the Standard American Diet (SAD). I think we can agree that most people don’t have a clue as to how much sugar we consume. How familiar does this sound to you: “I just had to have that cinnamon roll. I couldn’t resist it.” And you didn’t!  We may even be unaware of how much we crave sweets until the craving hits us. So why does the craving hits us at all? 

Let me introduce to you what we will call “The Sugar Crave Cycle.”

The Sugar Crave Cycle

Normal blood glucose levels remains even with a healthy diet. It can only take one indulgence in sugar and begins when:

  • Your child drinks that high carbohydrate drink or eats that sweet food (i.e., donut).
  • Their bloodstream becomes saturated with glucose (sugar).
  • Their body responds with a surge of insulin.
  • This surge of insulin causes the blood glucose levels to fall below the optimal level.
  • Since the brain depends on glucose for energy, it perceives a threat to its survival. The brain sends a signal to the adrenal glands to release cortisol. 
  • Cortisol, a steroid hormone, is released in response to stress and/or a low blood glucose level. Cortisol functions to increase blood glucose levels by increasing cravings for more sugar.
  • Your child reacts to these cravings and demands more sweets. After you give in, the cycle starts over again.

You may feel guilt about giving in to your child’s demands, and quite possibly the child is feeling guilty, too. Even though we know the sweets are bad for them, we give in anyway. Then, we start saying to ourselves, “I am a bad parent (or grandparent). I am weak and have no discipline”.

Let me tell you parents – there is nothing more counter-productive than negative self-talk.   What if I was to tell you, it is not all your fault? It’s not just an idea you’re battling—“I shouldn’t eat this”. It’s much more powerful. This is pure autonomic nervous system (ANS) business. You can’t override it, you can’t tell it what to do. It tells you what to do. In contrast to a computer, which you can override sometimes, the ANS cannot be overridden.

However, the situation isn’t hopeless. I believe that knowing why the sugar crave cycle happens (and knowing it is a false alarm) can be a deterrent to giving in. In fact, it can be a powerful deterrent. Intellectually, you know they don’t need that high sugar item. We also know that if you allow your child to indulge, you will place that child right back on the sugar craving cycle. We can say “no”.  

[Doesn’t that remind you of the anti-drug campaign?]

Parents, there is no reason to beat yourselves up. Did you know that imbalances in the chemicals in the brain (responsible for managing your moods) are to blame for at least 70-80% of the cravings.

So, what is a parent to do? We know we can just say “no.” But now, we also know that it doesn’t take just good old-fashion willpower. It also takes good health-sense.

Several decades ago, a rock band by the name of The Beatles wrote a song entitled, “With A Little Help From My Friends.” These three ‘friends’ will help you overcome those unhealthy sugar cravings.

Our first friend is named Gymnema Sylvestre. This product has been used in India and Asia for thousands of years to balance blood sugar levels and reduce the sugar craving. In fact, this product works so well, in Hindu its name (gurmar) means “destroyer of sugar”. Naturally, it derives from a plant leaf. Research has shown that, in its supplemental form, it contains an acid which has a molecular structure that is similar to sugar. It is strongly believed that these molecular structure attaches to the same taste receptors that glucose (sugar) uses. This attachment occurs not only in the mouth but also in the intestines. Consequently, sugar absorption in the intestines also decreases. Talk about a little help from our friends… this is enormous! 

But there is more to this product. It has also demonstrated an ability to increase the amount of insulin in the body by aiding the regrowth of pancreatic beta cells. These are the cells that produce insulin. What a huge bonus! For those who may be interested in trying the supplement, the recommended dosage is 400 milligrams per day.

Our second friend is an alkaloid extracted from plants by the name of Berberine. This product was utilized before the discovery of insulin and was recognized for its anti-diabetes effect. Berberine works by stimulating the uptake of glucose into your cells. This results in lower blood glucose levels. And, if this wasn’t enough, it also possesses extra beneficial effects. Those benefits include an increase in insulin sensitivity and a decrease in glucose production in the liver. Some experts say Berberine is as effective as Metformin but without the unwanted side effects (nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and upset stomach) associated with that drug. The recommended dosage for this supplement is 1000 milligrams per day.

Thirdly, we can get by with a little help from our friend Chromium. Many of us know that chromium is an essential trace mineral. However, few of us know that it plays a role in maintaining a healthy blood sugar level. Chromium is essential in the transportation of blood glucose out of the bloodstream and into the cells throughout your body. Once within the cells, the glucose converts proteins, carbohydrates and fats into energy. There are studies that have proven that a chromium-deficient diet can lead to an increase in blood sugar levels.

Like our two other friends, there is a bonus involved for chromium. Studies have revealed that chromium can help manage diabetes by assisting people with weight loss. If you are interested in this supplement, it comes in two forms: chromium dinicocysteinate and chromium picolinate. The recommended dosage for chromium is 400 milligrams per day.

In conclusion, I don’t want you to be misguided. No supplement can overcome a diet filled with pastries, ice cream and pasta. These supplements may suppress that craving, but nothing can take the place of a nutrient-heavy diet and moderate exercise. And your health-care professionals at yourkidshealth.net always recommend that you consult your doctor before starting any of the supplements featured in this blog.

References:

Ware, Megan. “Chromium: health benefits, sourses, and potential risks” Medical News Today. Updated May 22, 2017. Last accessed June 13, 2017.

“Chromium—Topic Overview” WebMD. Published NA. Last accessed June 13, 2017.

“Gymnema” Published NA. Last accessed June 13, 2017.

Passero, Kevin. “Gymnema Sylvestre: Reduce Sugar Cravings and Balance Blood Sugar!” GREEN HEALING WELLNESS. Published May 9, 2016. Last accessed June 13, 2017.

Tony is a Registered Nurse, who has 25 years of pediatric experience. He has practiced as a Staff Nurse, Charge Nurse, and as a Nurse Manager at Cook Childrens Medical Center in Fort Worth, Texas. He also has experience in the adult arena, most recently as a nurse in a Cardiovascular ICU and as a Hemodialysis Nurse. He has a wife and two children. His hobbies are Bible study, physical fitness, working with children, writing and blogging.