Our Ketosis challenge is half way done! We are excited to help participants find success as they take on a whole new way of eating. Our clients are jumping in head first with enthusiasm and lots of questions.
Some of the main concerns and questions I’ve heard have been about sweets. When embarking on a major dietary shift and greatly reducing carbs, most people experience some initial symptoms. Headache, fatigue, irritability, intense cravings, and brain fog being a few.
Since sugar is addictive, the brain loves to send signals to our guts when it’s time to satisfy a sweet tooth or react to the “reward” sensor in our brains. Cravings can feel hugely powerful if we let them.
Cravings however aren’t necessarily always “bad” or something to be suppressed. I’ve found that when we ignore a craving or try to force it away, it will only come back stronger. This is when entire pizzas are devoured or a pint of Ben n Jerry’s consumed. Food sustains and nourishes, but it also touches us in emotional and psychological ways. Food can be sensual and provide joy and comfort.
Drastically reducing carbs may initiate the sweet craving in ways patients have never experienced. Everyone is different, however, in their responses. When I first did the insulin flush, I had the strangest, overwhelming craving for a marshmallow Peep. It wasn’t even close to the Easter season and I never particularly liked Peeps, even before I greatly reduced sugar from my diet.
I thought about Peeps in the morning of day 1 and all the way into the afternoon. I felt irritable when I saw them in the store when stopping for macadamia nuts (I admit I “accidentally” meandered through the candy aisle). I though about them for hours into the evening.
The next morning, though, I woke up happy. I had overcome the craving the night before with a Protea protein shake and felt as if my brain “reset” over the night. By mid-morning of day 2 I had a small headache, leading into the snacky craving that I always get at night, when my nervous system winds down after kids go to bed. By day 3, I had amazing energy and didn’t think about sweets once.
Cravings are normal! You are flushing your system of an insulin burden, promoting a major metabolic shift. Don’t beat yourself up. What you do with the craving becomes an active choice, but experiencing them should be expected.
During the flush, and after into the next stage of the Ketosis diet, your metabolism will change. You may still experience cravings; pay attention to them. Your body may ask for a little sugar to combat hypo-glycemia, if you feel light headed or dizzy. This means you are burning fat as fuel and may need some glucose to stabilize. Grab a small hard candy and feel your blood sugar regulate and your dizziness fade.
Remember: fat means flavor. Whipping up heavy cream with a little stevia at night contains high fat and very little sugar/carbs. It tastes decadent and rich, and may do the trick to satisfy your sweet tooth and give you a boost.
Cravings can be physiological, emotional, or mental, or a combination, and are an important part of our body’s conversation with us. Deciphering them can be empowering, whether we choose to indulge the craving or not.
Want something salty? You body may need electrolytes. You may satisfy this craving with a handful of Lay’s, or by diving into a bowl of salted edamame.
Feel overwhelmed or upset and daydream about a childhood favorite, like mac n cheese? Choose to go for it and resolve to get back to your regular diet the next day … or find a healthier, keto-friendly alternative to satisfy that emotion or memory.
One patient reported that she feels the best she has ever felt after a week on the HFLC diet, while another didn’t notice a difference physically, but felt mentally on point. In getting on the scale, however, she was encouraged by a 3 lb. loss of body fat mass.
Whether steady, slower progress or a fast loss, you will experience a shift in your biodynamics on a keto diet. We see patients each week to track their progress, tweak macros according to mood, lifestyle and the scale, answer questions, brainstorm new food choices and recipe ideas, and help to decode cravings.
Notice your sweet tooth and find some tricks around it, and you will feel successful on this diet. We see it as a tool to learn how to eat for life, for your own body’s needs, so you burn fat and build muscle while feeling vital and clear-headed.
Enjoy the following recipe when you want to indulge your sweet tooth … and stay tuned for a delicious, keto-friendly main course one next week, just in time for Thanksgiving!
Keto Chocolate Coconut Cups (adapted from alldayidreamaboutfood.com).
1 & 1/2 ounces Cocoa Butter
1 ounce unsweetened chocolate
1/4 cup powdered Swerve Sweetener
1/4 cup cocoa powder
1/4 tsp vanilla extract
OR you can use 3 ounces Sugar-Free Dark Chocolate melted, for the topping.
1. For the candies, line a mini-muffin pan with 20 mini paper liners (parchment ones are best).
2. Combine coconut butter and coconut oil in a small saucepan over low heat. Stir until melted and smooth.
3. Stir in shredded coconut and sweetener until combined.
4. Divide mixture among prepared mini muffin cups and freeze until firm, about 30 minutes.
5. For the chocolate coating, combine cocoa butter and unsweetened chocolate in a bowl set over a pan of simmering water (do not let the bottom of the bowl touch the water). Stir until melted.
6. Stir in sifted powdered sweetener, then stir in cocoa powder, until smooth.
7. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla extract.
8. Spoon chocolate topping over chilled coconut candies and let set, about 15 minutes.
9. OR if using pre-packaged chocolate, simply melt and spoon over the cold coconut filling.
10.Candies can be stored on your counter top for up to a week.
Serves 10. Each serving: 5 g of carbs, 4 g of fiber. Total NET CARBS = 1 g.
240 Calories; 25g Fat (89.1% calories from fat); 2g Protein; 5g Carbohydrate; 4g Dietary Fiber; 0mg Cholesterol; 6mg Sodium.
** Swerve, a great tasting, natural sweetener, is a combination of erythritol and oligosaccharides that looks, tastes and measures just like sugar. Made from a unique combination of ingredients derived from fruits and vegetables, it contains no artificial ingredients, preservatives or flavors. (swervesweetener.com).