It can be a battle, we all know this too well! During menopause sugar cravings can increase so badly that we can barely manage them. While on one side the metabolism is slowing down, fluctuating hormones, higher levels of physical and emotional stress, low motivation, sleep deprivation, pains and aches can so easily trigger an overwhelming desire to eat unhealthy sweet foods.
The sugar roller coaster causes noticeable physiologic changes in the body:
- weight gain, especially around the belly
- brain fog
- more cravings
- hormonal imbalances
Sugar surely causes a world of trouble in our body but there are actions you can take to free yourself.
Appetite & Food Selection
Managing hunger with the right foods is a great way to keep cravings under control. There are simple ways to optimize your caloric intake, feel more satisfied in between meals, and finally fend off hunger.
Protein and fiber rich foods provide feelings of fullness and take much longer to digest than foods high in sugar and processed carbohydrates. Each meal needs to have some source of protein and you will notice how much more satisfied you will feel. Including sufficient animal or vegetarian protein in every meal is important also for the synthesis of our feel good neurotransmitters, meaning better mood and better decisions around food.
I recommend eating foods that are not only high in protein but also have a higher percentage of tryptophan – turkey, beans and lentils, eggs, sunflower and also pumpkin seeds. Tryptophan, being a precursor of serotonin, will provide the brain with this important “happy” neurotransmitter.
For fiber, load up on fiber rich, non starchy greens and vegetables. A high intake of fiber will not only leave you feeling full but it will also provide a bonus for your digestion.
Eat grain- like seeds
Amaranth, buckwheat, millet and quinoa are seeds with a grain like taste and properties. These are healthy, high protein slow carbohydrates with the property of boosting serotonin. They are the perfect choice to provide your body with carbohydrates without increasing the insulin level and finally creating cravings.
Eliminate sugar – go no-sugar for 3-5 days in a row
If you have low serotonin, you may have intense cravings for sugar. This way your body is trying to increase serotonin, because eating sugar produces insulin, which helps tryptophan go into your brain. As we all know, too much sugar can cause addiction to sugar, insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes. Including oven roasted root vegetables (sweet potatoes, parsnip, turnip, squash, onions) into your daily meals is a good way to satisfy your cravings. Replace sugar with stevia to sweeten your beverages.
Going sugar free for 3-5 days regularly can make a huge difference in reducing your cravings. Although it may take longer than 3 days for sugar cravings to disappear, a short sugar detox can normalize your sugar receptors and neurotransmitters reducing your brain’s constant messages that it needs more sugar.
Get my signature 7 DAY SUGAR DETOX FOR MENOPAUSE HERE and start feeling the benefits!
Include fermented foods and drinks in your diet
Fermented foods and drinks greatly assist in digestion and assimilation of all important nutrients. They also help manufacture the essential B vitamins that help with boosting your mood. Furthermore, fermented foods help restore the gut’s bacteria improving nutrient absorption, digestion and mood.
Add targeted nutrients to calm cravings
Specific micro nutrients like zinc, vitamin C and B vitamins quiet sugar cravings by influencing serotonin production. Another essential supplement when it comes to regulating mood and inflammation is omega 3. Eat foods with these ingredients or try a good multivitamin (see my recommendation HERE) and a pure omega 3 fish or vegan oil (see my recommendation HERE and HERE)
Drink plenty of water with cinnamon
Drinking 8-10 glasses of water daily is one of the most important action you can take reduce all symptoms of menopause. Drinking water with cinnamon not only provides the much needed hydration but can also help stop sugar cravings. Numerous studies have shown the potent polyphenols in cinnamon help reduce sugar cravings by controlling blood glucose levels. This helps minimize insulin spikes that can result after an unbalanced meal.
Unstable blood sugar can leave you experiencing mood swings, fatigue, headaches, hot flashes, weight gain, premature aging, heart disease. There are strategies to help you overcome sugar cravings but what I recommend my patients is to start with a short sugar detox to jumpstart the process and drastically reduce cravings before embarking on a low sugar lifestyle.
If you want to know more about the right foods to eat and the ones to avoid (this is a tricky one!), as well as a lot more strategies to start a sugar free/ low sugar lifestyle, download my signature 7 DAY SUGAR DETOX FOR MENOPAUSE and join a group of ladies who already embarked on this journey.
LAURA PEISCHL, BA, INHC
Laura is a Certified Integrative Nutrition Health Coach, Holistic Menopause Health Specialist and Certified Hormone Health and Wellness practitioner. She is the founder and owner of Feel Good Menopause.