How to Combat Sugar Cravings During Menopause
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If you have not had menopause sugar cravings yet, brace yourself, because they will be worse than your typical stress-related sugar cravings. The thing is, in menopause hormones fluctuate, your mood changes, you have more emotional stress because of the symptoms of menopause, and you are not motivated to move or exercise. All of these can cause real serious sugar cravings like never before. And it will not be just sugar, but the unhealthiest kind – cakes, cookies, pastries, and anything else thats very sweet and rich.
You know these foods are unhealthy, but you feel like you have no willpower to stop yourself from eating them. We understand what you are going through, so we are here to give you some tips on how to combat sugar cravings during menopause.
Combating Sugar Cravings
During menopause, you are more stressed, because not only do you have to deal with your everyday problems, but also with the annoying symptoms. When your body releases the hormone cortisone, you enter the state of stress, your body releases adrenaline, and this is the time when your sugar cravings intensify. The problem with these cravings, though, is that your blood sugar spikes and then drops down just as quickly. This can cause adrenal fatigue, and also lead to such changes as weight gain, fatigue, depression, brain fog, hormonal imbalance, and more food cravings. Surely, you know sugar is harmful for you, but how do you combat your cravings? Let’s look at some ways.
Tip #1: Hydrate to Combat Sugar Cravings
Sometimes, you might feel hungry or have a craving pretty soon after your previous meal. When this happens, it might actually be a sign of being thirsty, not hungry. Before reaching out for a cookie, grab a glass of water, herbal tea, or coconut water. These three are very good sources of hydration which would help your body flush out toxins and give your body the water it is craving. Avoid sodas or other sugary drinks (1) and especially alcohol, as none of these are sources of hydration for your body. If you want to have some flavor in your water, add a few slices of lemon or cucumber.
Tip #2: Choose Fruit Sugar
While you should avoid refined sugars found in prepackaged sweets and baked goods, this is not the case for natural fruit and vegetable sugars because they offer a number of health benefits (2). Apples, bananas, mangoes, grapes, dates, and persimmons are all great choices of sweet fruit that could help you combat sugar cravings. Next time you feel like eating a piece of cake, try to eat a banana instead. You can also make a snack with banana and peanut butter if you want. Eating a fruit when you are having a sugar craving will still boost your blood sugar level, although it will be a mild boost and not a spike as from refined sugars. As a result, you will not develop adrenal fatigue and at the same time satisfy your craving.
Tip #3: Go for Complex Carbs
You must have heard before to avoid carbs for health and weight loss. But not all carbs are the same. Refined carbs found in white bread, white pasta, ice creams, sodas, chips, and baked goods are the ones you should avoid in your diet (3). They quickly get absorbed into your blood thus creating those spikes of blood sugar mentioned earlier. On the other hand, complex carbs are actually good for you. Foods like whole grains, sweet potatoes, and wholemeal bread get absorbed slower and keep you full for longer as well. You should not avoid carbs completely, but it is important to choose the right kind to include in your diet.
Tip #4: Keep Yourself Busy
How many times do you go to the kitchen when you are busy? And how many times when you have nothing to do? That’s right – when you are bored and have nothing going on, you are more likely to crave unhealthy foods. Go for a walk if you need a distraction, or find an interesting hobby that would keep you occupied. If the cravings happen at work, grab a cup of tea or speak to a colleague. Apart from that, avoid spending your work or leisure time in the kitchen, close to the fridge and pantry. When you see the foods you crave, it is much more difficult, more likely impossible, to resist them.
Tip #5: Substitute
If you feel like there is no way you can give up on these sugary and starchy treats, try to find alternative, healthier options. For example, if you're craving French fries, go ahead and eat a baked potato (not loaded) or mashed sweet potato instead. And if it is a specific flavor you are craving, it should not be hard to find a replacement. For instance, drink cocoa when craving chocolate cake, or eat a piece of dark chocolate. There are so many options to choose from, and they will have less fat and calories, while still satisfying your cravings for sugar.
Tip #6: Use Probiotics for Sugar Cravings
When bacteria in your vaginal flora and your gut are out of balance, this can lead to growth of bad bacteria and yeast. This growth can lead to intense sugar cravings, digestive health issues, and even brain fog. The bad bacteria feed on refined sugars and carbs, so if you satisfy your cravings with unhealthy foods, you will only make the bacterial imbalance worse. Instead, try taking probiotics to balance out the bacteria in your digestive system and curb the cravings.
You can find probiotics in many fermented foods and drinks like kombucha, live yogurt, tempeh, sauerkraut, kimchi, or pickles. Or, you can also take a probiotic supplement. MenoLabs has created a line of probiotic supplements to meet the individual needs of women in menopause. They will help restore bacterial balance in your gut so you can combat sugar cravings and be healthier in menopause.
(1) B. Popkin. "Sugary beverages represent a threat to global health."
(2) J. Slavin and B. Lloyd. "Health Benefits of Fruits and Vegetables."
(3) J. Ifland et al. "Refined food addiction: A classic substance use disorder."