I’m craving sugar after lunch and dinner!

Hi Ariane, 

Here’s my food diary for the last week. I’ve noticed a jump in my energy level without as much starch in my diet, which is great. And I feel like I’m getting better about incorporating more protein. I’ve never kept a food diary or really paid much attention to my eating habits, so it’s been a real learning curve.

Beyond learning to “eat clean” I’ve been facing two challenges: 

1) I’m finding that a shake for dinner is not filling enough. Do you have any suggestions?

2) I’m craving a sweet after lunch or dinner.  I’ve been trying to substitute sugar with fruit when the craving is too strong, but I know that’s not ideal. What can I eat instead?
Food Diary
Day 1:

Breakfast: 1c kefir and 1/4 c steel cut oatmeal

AM Snack:  Fage yogurt and a handful of almonds (dry roasted)

Lunch: Baked zucchini and grilled chicken

PM Snack: Apple and string cheese

Dinner: Vegetables and tofu in yellow curry sauce

Day 2:

Breakfast: 1c kefir and 1/4 c steel cut oatmeal

AM Snack: Whey protein shake-water and 1/4c strawberries 

Lunch:Roasted pork and zucchini, steamed cauliflower and broccoli 

PM Snack: 1 red Pepper cut up with hummus

Dinner: Roast pork with 20 spears of asparagus 

2 small choc chip cookies and 1/2 c skim milk (cheat snack)

Day 3:

Breakfast: Tofu, egg whites and kale scramble

AM Snack: Apple and string cheese

Lunch: Roasted chicken(1/2 serving) arugula salad, meatloaf(1/2 serving), 1 pierogi. 1 slice chocolate zucchini cake. 1oz. (Office thanksgiving potluck!!!!!!!!)

PM Snack:quest bar 

Dinner: Protein shake–almond milk, banana and spinach 

Thanks for your feedback!

photo source: http://simplyfantasticbooks.files.wordpress.com/2011/08/sugar-cravings.jpg

that is a great week of eating! 

Given that you’re lean to begin with, you definitely want to eat dinner, rather than just have a protein shake. Skimping on calories too much makes it impossible to gain muscle. If you do have a shake here and there, but the shake isn’t filling enough, you can add 1/2 an avocado, which makes it creamier and more filling.  I think the reason your shake didn’t fill you up on that Day 3 was because you had sugar during the day, which lowered your blood sugar and by the time dinner rolled around and you had just a shake, you simply couldn’t regain your blood sugar balance. 

The cravings after lunch or dinner are typically a sign that your blood sugar isn’t balanced, which can be the result of your previous meal being too small or unbalanced. Take a look at what you had in the meal before and see if it was truly providing you with enough protein (to fill you up) and veggies (to keep you full). Too many carbs and too little protein can cause blood sugar issues, causing it to drop. The cravings set in so that you replenish your blood sugar. However, eating sugar would be the wrong thing to do. You want to raise your blood sugar, not skyrocket it only to drop again.

I suggest you make your breakfast a little higher in carbs and aim for about 30g of carbs along with 20g of protein. For example, 3 eggs with 2 slices of whole grain bread, or a 3-egg omelette with a lot of veggies, or 3/2 cup of slow-cooking oatmeal with 1 cup of low-fat Greek Yogurt. You should notice that your afternoon cravings become a thing of the past if you balance the first two meals of the day. Also, make sure you eat an afternoon snack about 3 hours after lunch to maintain your blood sugar balance and counteract cravings. 

As you continue to eat clean, you’ll become more and more sensitive to sugar and starches and you’ll feel the impact more and more. That in itself turns you off to eating excessive amounts of bad carbs too often. 

Your food intake was great: protein at every meal, along with veggies. Nice job!


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