As we wrap up this series of newsletters on blood sugar, let’s talk about cravings! This will include some simple, yet profound, lifestyle modifications and an herb that may block the taste and absorption of sweets and balance cravings!
What is a Craving?
A craving isn’t a bad thing. It is your body telling you that you are out of fuel.
The minute you find yourself reaching for some dark chocolate, a cup of coffee, a chip or a diet soda, the body is already in an emergency response. Your blood sugar has already crashed and the body is producing toxic stress fighting hormones.
So yes, eat that piece of dark chocolate and enjoy it because the real damage has already been done. We mistakenly blame the chocolate, but it is not what we crave that is the problem. After you have thoroughly enjoyed that scrumptious piece of chocolate, now ask the $25,000 questions, Why did I crave it in the first place? and “How do I stop it?”
Don’t Let the Body Panic
A craving is an emergency panic button demanding quick energy because the blood sugar is falling. In this stressed chemistry the body is told to store fat and crave sugar – or any other quick injection of energy it can find.
These quick sugar injections can lead to weight gain and difficult weight management. Lack of exercise is another common reason for weight gain, which I covered in my last video-newsletter Be Fit, Thin and Calm in 12 Minutes a Day.
Become a Better Fat Burner
When under stress the body will first utilize fast burning sugar and carbs while saving and storing as much fat as it can. Why? Because fat burns slowly. So if there is no food, the fat will provide lasting energy and postpone starvation. When we let our blood sugar crash our body prepares to survive a possible famine.
Fat metabolism should deliver about half the daily fuel supply and energy needs. The other half is from carbohydrates and a very small amount from protein. Herein lies the problem: Americans have become really bad fat burners and really good sugar burners!
Why Are We Bad Fat Burners?
We have been told to eat six small meals a day to maintain stable blood sugar and to keep the waistline trim. Conventional suggestions are to eat breakfast, then a snack, lunch, then a snack, supper, then a snack and then go to bed. When the body is fed so often throughout the day, why would it ever burn its fat stores when a steady supply of newly digested snack food is readily available?
The body becomes conditioned to fuel up every 2-3 hours. Slowly the blood sugar’s ability to stay stable and last for many hours is replaced by the need to eat a snack every 2-3 hours. If a snack is missed, the blood sugar crashes, the cravings go wild, and mood and energy plummet. Within weeks of letting the blood sugar crash, what was initially just a suggestion to eat every 2-3 hours has been replaced with extreme hunger and the need to eat every 2-3 hours.
Six Meals a Day May Causes Blood Sugar Imbalances
In the old days a farmer could spend hours in the fields with no problem. Imagine if they had to come into the house every 2-3 hours for a snack! This kind of blood sugar instability is clearly a modern day imbalance.
Six meals a day is a medicinal diet for treating the symptoms of severe hypoglycemia. It was never intended to be a way of life. (1) We are also told that eating six meals a day will help us lose weight by keeping the metabolism high and revved up and that it won’t let the body store fat. Yes it will do all that, but in a totally manipulated and unnatural way – mostly for cosmetic reasons but not for good health!
- We are not meant to have our metabolism revved up all day. It depletes and exhausts the adrenals (which ultimately causes fat storage) and never gives the digestion a rest.
- While we won’t store fat eating every 2-3 hours, we also will never burn any stored fat. Toxins are stored in our fat cells and the fat needs a reason to burn. (More info below).
- With blood sugars artificially propped up from constant feeding, the ability to make energy last is replaced with fragile energy, constant hunger, mood instability and extreme cravings if a meal or snack is missed.
Burn Fat Now
If you don’t snack between breakfast and lunch, the body is forced to burn its own fat to supply energy throughout the morning hours. If you eat a carrot as a snack, the body will burn the carrot for extra energy rather than the stored fat.
Between lunch and supper fat is used as the fuel to make it through the afternoon without cravings. An afternoon snack, even if it’s healthy, simply tells the body to burn the snack instead of the fat. Between supper and breakfast the body makes its longest fat burning journey, breaking the “fast” with breakfast. One of the major reasons why folks don’t sleep through the night is because they have lost the ability to burn fat – the slow and lasting fuel that allows us to sleep deeply all night, and these cravings wake them up.
Why Burn Fat?
While we all know carrying extra weight is a problem, there are several reasons why burning fat is crucial to our health. They include:
- Fat is a slow burning fuel that allows us to go many hours without food.
- Fat is calm fuel that stills and relaxes the nervous system. It is a de-stress, anti-anxiety fuel.
- Fat burning stimulates drainage of toxins through the lymphatic system.
- Fat burning detoxifies toxic fat soluble chemicals that can store in the fat cells and brain for 20-30+ years.
- Fat burning releases molecules of emotion which Ayurveda calls mental ama. These toxic emotions store in the fat cells and trigger negative reactive patterns of behavior.
- Fat is the body’s survival fuel. If the body feels safe, it will burn fat and trigger safety and repair.
If eating 3 meals a day presents a challenge or you just can’t seem to muster the will power to give up the dark chocolate, coffee or jelly beans because your cravings are just out of control, let me introduce to you an herb that is nothing short of amazing.
Gymnema sylvestre is an Ayurvedic herb from the milkweed family that is locally known as Gurmar or “sweet destroyer”. (Fun experiment: If you put just a taste of this herb on your tongue and then ate a candy bar or anything with sugar, you simply would not taste the sugar) It may block the absorption of the sugar through the taste buds and the intestinal wall. (2) The active ingredient, gymnemic acids, have receptors both in the gut and on the tongue so sugar absorption may be blocked. When sugar absorption is blocked, cravings are reduced and occasional blood sugar highs and lows are neutralized. (2) If sugar is blocked at both points of entry, the body must get its energy elsewhere. Fat may be mobilized as the fuel supply of choice. Gymnema may support the body’s ability to use fat as fuel rather than sugar or carbohydrates.
Gymnema sylvestre can enhance the effects of insulin and oral hypoglycemic agents by reducing glucose absorption in the intestine, stimulating pancreatic cell beta growth, and possibly supporting endogenous insulin secretion. It may also support serum lipid levels already in the normal range. (3)
Sugar Destroyer helps to maintain healthy blood sugar levels and support normal pancreatic function. In natural medicine this is called herbal intelligence because it may support balanced function to the pancreas and blood sugar.
In one recent study on rats, the active constituent of Gymnema sylvestre was tested for its efficacy in maintaining healthy blood glucose levels. An oral glucose tolerance test was administered at baseline and at days 20 and 40. Administration of the constituent resulted in enhanced insulin activity and improved parameters of glucose-insulin homoestasis. (4)