Dear Simple Steps,

I get it on a fundamental level.   Eat meats and vegetables, nuts and seeds, some fruit, little starch and no sugar.  It sounds reasonable, but for me it is anything but.  I find it impossible to stop reaching for starchy, sugary foods.  It is a real problem.  At least a couple of times a week, I eat my fair share of cookies, muffins, cereals, gummy bears and the like.   These choices shoot my diet in the foot and leave me feeling puffy and lethargic.  Do you have any suggestions for how I can change my ways beyond run of the mill tips like keeping junk out of the house and staying hydrated?  I’m worried about the holidays.  How does a person cope without it being a free-forall?  I am hoping you may be a miracle worker or can point me in the direction of one.



Dear Krispie,

Thank you for your honest note.  I hear frustration and a sense of powerlessness in your voice. Do not despair.   The truth is, sugar is an addictive substance. There is no way around it.  For many of us it takes a lot of work to break the cycle you describe but it can be done.   Identifying the pitfall that is keeping you from reaching your goals is key.  Admission to self, that there is a problem to be solved, is the first step.  Going forward,  it is helpful to understand why the body craves sugary, starchy carbs.

Take a look at 3 top reasons:

  1. Magnesium deficiency. When the body is lacking in a micronutrient we often crave foods that contain it, such as chocolate.  Try reaching for a better source such as 100 percent unsweetened dark chocolate or add unsweetened cacao power to a smoothie.  Better yet, load up on sugar free magnesium rich foods like:  nuts, seeds, beans, dark leafy greens and whole grains and stay ahead of the game.
  2. Exhaustion.  In a sleep deprived state the brain will seek out energy from sugary food. Research  shows poor sleep impacts your hormones by increasing ghrelin (the hunger hormone) and reduces leptin (the hormone that allows you to feel satiated). So when you’re sleep deprived and desperate for energy you’ll find yourself in uphill battle as it will become harder and harder to fight the off  sugar craving. The way out: prioritize sleep.
  3. Stress. Cravings often come on when we feel stressed.  A lot of weight gain is linked to our emotional state.  We eat for reasons other than hunger which impacts our mood and waistline. Eating sugary foods releases a “happy” chemical in our brain called serotonin. Many of the foods we crave, i.e., candy, white breads and sodas, are filled with simple carbs that our body processes very quickly.  These boost our feel-good hormone levels which give us energy to carry on.   Unfortunately, what goes up must come down.  These carb-laden foods cause our sugar levels to spike and then drop, leaving us feeling depleted or, as you say, “lethargic.” Also, keep in mind that a lot of sugar eaten too close to bedtime can lead to spikes in blood sugar which disrupt our sleep.  A double whammy as the resulting fatigue can lead to more food cravings.

In the meantime,  if you are feeling stressed and craving sweets, take a time out.  Go for a short walk. No phone or music allowed.  Deep breathe and look around. Come home and make a mug of the restorative, cinnamon-black pepper hot chocolate below, then sit quietly in a private space and drink it. Feel calm wash over you!

Restorative Hot Chocolate

Tbsp. cacao powder 65% or darker.

2 cups almond, coconut, oat or cashew milk

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

½ teaspoon ground cinnamon

Pinch black pepper

Place all ingredients in a shaker or magic bullet.  Blend, then pour in sauce pan and heat gently or microwave to desired temperature.

Source: This is Your Brain on Food

Stay at it Krispie and keep an eye on this column for upcoming holiday navigation tips.

Need a sugar busting plan?  Book a Simple Steps Nutrition Consultation here and we’ll develop a personalized plan.

Touch of Make-UP Day WODS 


1 mile run
2 km row
1 mile run

10 rnds
1 power snatch
3 ohs 125/185

3 rnds (1 minute each movement)

Ghd sit ups

Mobwod v.3

5 minute EMOM
1/1 kb TGU

5 minute EMOM
5 plate squat + press oh 10/15#

5 minute EMOM
5/5 DB squat Snatch

5 minute EMOM
5 double db ohs

20 min EMOM

Odd minute 35 DU
Even Minute 15 hollow rocks