It’s 4pm, you’ve got an inbox that’s bursting at the seams, a to-do list longer than your morning commute, but all you want to do is devour an entire packet of biscuits. Independent nutritional expert Naomi Beinart helps explain this 4pm food phenomenon and offer us some healthy snack solutions.
Overwhelming food cravings are the culprit behind most broken diets. Why does this sweet treat urge always seem to hit us around 4pm? What can we do to curb these calorific cravings?
When we are tired, we tend to make poorer food choices, wanting a quick fix (preferably a sweet one) to perk us up. This can occur most often in the afternoon when cortisol levels can take a natural dip (cortisol is a hormone naturally produced by the adrenal glands which, when released, gives us a feeling of energy). When cortisol dips, we may feel more tired.
Naomi explains: “When you’re in your 20s, it’s very easy to snack on sweet things without putting on weight and still having enough energy to get through the day and go out all night. Fast forward to your 30s and 40s, and sweet snacking can cause a host of problems from premature ageing, a decrease in energy levels, hormonal imbalances, and mood problems.”
Thankfully, eating the right foods at the right time can help you manage all of these health concerns. “Eating well”, says Naomi, “will help balance out blood sugar, reduce sweet cravings, increase energy levels and help make skin look better.”
Blood sugar rollercoaster
Fluctuating glucose levels can be harmful for our health. The rollercoaster of glycemic highs and lows is not good for our general health. If, over time, you become insulin resistant, where more and more insulin is being produced by the pancreas, but the insulin receptors in your cells do not respond effectively to it, then this can increase your risk of diabetes and high blood pressure.
Want to get off the ride?
A natural nutritional supplement can help balance out your blood sugar levels. Inusol, which, depending on the brand, is available at around £10 for a month’s supply, is a herbal remedy, a blend of natural nutrients and minerals that can help to control blood sugar levels and is free of any harmful chemicals.
Inusol contains key ingredients that have been shown to regulate sugar cravings, glycemic peaks, and energy dips. Ingredients include: gymnema sylvestre, cinnamon bark, fenugreek, olive leaf, Korean ginseng, psyllium husk, bilberry, and aloe vera.
Cinnamon Bark Extract: in clinical studies, cinnamon bark extract exhibited properties proven to be extremely similar to that of insulin. Cinnamon extract can help prevent insulin resistance, thereby regulating your blood sugar levels.
Fenugreek Extract: also known as methi seeds, fenugreek seems to slow down sugar absorption while stimulating insulin production, which helps in lowering blood sugar levels. In fact, a clinical study reported that fenugreek reduced fasting blood sugar levels, while improving glucose tolerance tests.
Gymnema Sylvestre Extract: used in India for nearly 2,000 years as a diabetes treatment, it is commonly known as gurmar (meaning ‘sugar destroyer’). Gymnema sylvestre appears to slow down sugar absorption from foods, directly promotes insulin production in the pancreas, and makes cells more insulin sensitive.
Naomi’s diet Do’s and Don’ts
Don’t be restricted by your circumstances. Travel, eating out, and dieting can all restrict our food choices. Overcome these by always having a healthy snack with you, such as a banana, almonds, or oatcakes with guacamole or hummus.
Supplements can be helpful in controlling sugar cravings and energy dips. Choose one with key blood sugar regulating properties such as fenugreek extract, cinnamon bark, or gymnema sylvestre extract.
Avoid sushi – the white rice can be bad news for your blood sugar level. Instead, go for sashimi or grilled chicken and vegetables.
Eat every three hours. When you eat, your blood sugar (glucose) rises. The higher and quicker it rises, the more insulin your pancreas has to produce to keep up. The higher your blood sugar goes up, the lower it crashes down afterwards. This crash will also occur if you leave longer than three hours between eating. At the drop, your body will send you off for a quick fix, like a bar of chocolate or a cup of tea and biscuit, because it need to lift the blood sugar up again.