By Michlle Wong
As we slowly ease out of the dark, wintry months and begin to embrace the fresh energy in the air and welcoming of spring, you might notice that the foods you choose shift as well.
During the winter, we naturally gravitate towards denser foods that are more comforting, and pleasure inducing, usually in the form of heavy carbohydrates, like mac ’n cheese, and potatoes (with all the fixings!). These types of foods increase our happy hormone, serotonin, which is much needed during the shorter, darker days. But when we rely on foods to boost our serotonin levels, we can create imbalances in our blood sugar levels.
As we shift into spring, because our body has been accustomed to the feel good affects of serotonin through comfort foods, our bodies will continue to seek out the feel-good carbs to maintain the serotonin levels. Our food choices may change, and we may gravitate towards sweets, like ice cream, sorbets, since the weather is getting warmer, and fruits are in season.
While I love desserts and find truffle fries too good to pass up, it’s important to be mindful of how often you’re grabbing these foods. If you find yourself consistently wanting sweet or salty foods, especially certain times during the day (say, at 2pm or 9pm), it can be a strong indicator that your blood sugar is off balance, and you’ve become dependent on these foods for pleasure.
This is a clear sign that you’ve developed cravings. I know for myself, when I start reaching for the same types of snacks at 9pm, my blood sugar is off balance. Our brain and body does need glucose to function, but only within a narrow range.
On a physiological level, when we eat too many refined carbs (can be sweet or salty), our blood gets flooded with excess glucose, causing our pancreas to release high levels of insulin to manage the excess. In the aftermath of dealing with the sugar spike, we’ll also experience a sugar crash – this happens after insulin has cleared the blood sugar. In a low blood sugar state, our body experiences another state of emergency, as there now isn’t enough glucose in the blood for the brain to properly function. Thus, cortisol is released to handle this, triggering us to grab convenient foods, as we need to get our blood sugar back up.
This internal stress response shows up externally as fatigue, crankiness, cravings, headaches, light-headedness and feeling out of balance. Overtime, if this pattern keeps repeating, the blood sugar imbalance can lead to cellular damage, inflammation, unwanted weight gain, and depression, moodiness, Type II Diabetes, and other degenerative diseases.
Going off sugar cold turkey is not easy to do, as our brain has become addicted to the sugar. I recommend gentler ways to ease off sugar versus quitting sugar completely.
With all meals and snacks, I recommend adding macronutrients: healthy protein, good fats, good carbs (like dark leafy greens), and fiber to all foods. Making sure you’re drinking plenty of filtered water to hydrate your cells.
Choose whole foods that are low glycemic (the glycemic index measures how fast foods will spike blood sugar upon consumption). Also incorporate a high-quality multi-vitamin and mineral to ensure you’re filling in the nutritional gap. When we’re not getting proper nutrients, we’ll also crave certain foods. It’s our body’s way of letting us know something is off balance.
Drink warm lemon water in the mornings to boost the digestive system.
For breakfast, have a balanced, low-glycemic smoothie, that includes the macronutrients + fiber. Doing this first thing in the morning can really set your day up for success, as you won’t be spiking your blood sugar first thing, which reduces the chances of the sugar roller coaster cycle.
When we can stabilize our blood sugar consistently over all our snacks and meals, we can eventually bring our body back to balance, and overtime, can ease off the cravings.
Also, seek ways to find joy outside of food. Spend time outdoors, attend a movement class, catch a movie, or it is you enjoy doing.
If you'd like more structured support, I have a few different nutritional programs that can be customized to your health needs, and help curb cravings. You can learn more on my website: http://www.nonlinearpath.com.
You may also email me at firstname.lastname@example.org for any questions. I'm happy to offer a complimentary 20min lifestyle + wellness strategy session, to go over your health goals and needs, and see which of the programs would be a good fit for you (or customize one for you!).
To your vibrant health,
Michelle has a diverse background that keeps her well-rounded. Receiving her bachelors in System & Information Engineering, she understands the demands and effects of a fast-paced job, and how when it comes to healthy changes: “if it’s not simple and easy, it won’t get done!” On the flip side, Michelle has a deep passion for movement, nutrition, and mentorship. It was through her own relationship with crazy diets, sugar cravings and binge eating that led her to look deeper beyond dieting, and what to eat/not to eat.
Michelle is a science nerd at heart, and completed her pre-med courses, and was a former Classical Chinese and Naturopathic Medicine student. She’s earned her nutrition advisor certificate from Sanoviv – a premiere functional medicine institute, as well as a certification in Eating Psychology Coach. With her experience and rich background, Michelle takes an analytical yet holistic approach to effective lifestyle changes. You can visit her website at: www.nonlinearpath.com, and follow her on Instagram and Facebook.