Chaos to Calm

Sweet Relief: How to Enjoy Chocolate Without the Sugar Crash

March 24, 2024 Sarah McLachlan Episode 40
Sweet Relief: How to Enjoy Chocolate Without the Sugar Crash
Chaos to Calm
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Chaos to Calm
Sweet Relief: How to Enjoy Chocolate Without the Sugar Crash
Mar 24, 2024 Episode 40
Sarah McLachlan

Join us as we unwrap the sweet dilemma you may be facing during Easter (or premenstrually!) The dark and desirable, smooth and delectable chocolate.

If you're navigating the rollercoaster of perimenopause hormone fluctuations, you may find yourself caught in the chocolate cravings cycle more often than you did with your regular monthly cycle! If that's you, or even if it's not, but you love chocolate, then this episode is your golden ticket to indulgence without compromise.

We're answering the big question of how can you eat chocolate and be healthy. How do you avoid wanting to down the whole block once you start? Sarah shares not just strategies for healthier chocolate indulgence but also insights into managing cravings and maintaining balance.

Here’s a taste of what you’ll discover:

🍫The Emotional Connection: Explore why chocolate becomes our go-to comfort food and what it signals about our broader needs in life.
🍫 Blood Sugar Blues: Uncover the hidden impact of those delicious treats on your mood, energy, and perimenopause symptoms – it's not just about the calories.
🍫 Mindful Munching: Get practical tips on choosing and enjoying chocolate in a way that supports your health, without feeling deprived or guilty.
🍫 Decoding Labels: Learn how to read chocolate labels like a pro, making empowered choices that align with your wellness goals.

Ready to transform your Easter chocolate experience and keep your perimenopause journey on track? Tune in now for a blend of science, practical advice, and real-life strategies that will change the way you think about chocolate and health.

Send us a question for the FAQs segment or your feedback, we’d love to hear from you.

Find out more about Sarah, her services and the Freebies mentioned in this episode at https://www.ThePerimenopauseNaturopath.com.au

  • COMING SOON: Discover how to use food as your most powerful medicine, smoothing hormonal fluctuations and easing perimenopause symptoms naturally. (Yes, you have more options than hormone therapy!) Say goodbye to feeling out of control and hello to feeling more like your old self every day, with PerimenoPOWER (because who wants to pause anyway?!)
  • The Perimenopause Decoder is the ultimate guide to understanding if perimenopause hormone fluctuations are behind your changing mood, metabolism and energy after 40, what phase of perimenopause you're in and how much longer you may be on this roller coaster for.
  • Been told your blood test results are "normal" or "fine" while you feel far from your best? Discover the power of optimal blood test analysis with The Blood Test Decoder: Optimal Ranges for Women Over 40.
  • For more, follow on Instagram at @theperimenopausenaturopath.
Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

Join us as we unwrap the sweet dilemma you may be facing during Easter (or premenstrually!) The dark and desirable, smooth and delectable chocolate.

If you're navigating the rollercoaster of perimenopause hormone fluctuations, you may find yourself caught in the chocolate cravings cycle more often than you did with your regular monthly cycle! If that's you, or even if it's not, but you love chocolate, then this episode is your golden ticket to indulgence without compromise.

We're answering the big question of how can you eat chocolate and be healthy. How do you avoid wanting to down the whole block once you start? Sarah shares not just strategies for healthier chocolate indulgence but also insights into managing cravings and maintaining balance.

Here’s a taste of what you’ll discover:

🍫The Emotional Connection: Explore why chocolate becomes our go-to comfort food and what it signals about our broader needs in life.
🍫 Blood Sugar Blues: Uncover the hidden impact of those delicious treats on your mood, energy, and perimenopause symptoms – it's not just about the calories.
🍫 Mindful Munching: Get practical tips on choosing and enjoying chocolate in a way that supports your health, without feeling deprived or guilty.
🍫 Decoding Labels: Learn how to read chocolate labels like a pro, making empowered choices that align with your wellness goals.

Ready to transform your Easter chocolate experience and keep your perimenopause journey on track? Tune in now for a blend of science, practical advice, and real-life strategies that will change the way you think about chocolate and health.

Send us a question for the FAQs segment or your feedback, we’d love to hear from you.

Find out more about Sarah, her services and the Freebies mentioned in this episode at https://www.ThePerimenopauseNaturopath.com.au

  • COMING SOON: Discover how to use food as your most powerful medicine, smoothing hormonal fluctuations and easing perimenopause symptoms naturally. (Yes, you have more options than hormone therapy!) Say goodbye to feeling out of control and hello to feeling more like your old self every day, with PerimenoPOWER (because who wants to pause anyway?!)
  • The Perimenopause Decoder is the ultimate guide to understanding if perimenopause hormone fluctuations are behind your changing mood, metabolism and energy after 40, what phase of perimenopause you're in and how much longer you may be on this roller coaster for.
  • Been told your blood test results are "normal" or "fine" while you feel far from your best? Discover the power of optimal blood test analysis with The Blood Test Decoder: Optimal Ranges for Women Over 40.
  • For more, follow on Instagram at @theperimenopausenaturopath.
Sarah McLachlan:

Hey there, I'm Sarah McLachlan. Thanks for joining me on the Chaos to Calm podcast, a podcast designed for women over 40 who think that changing hormones might be messing with their mood, metabolism and energy and want to change that in a healthy, sustainable and permanent way. Each episode will explore topics related to health and wellness for women in their 40s, like what the heck is happening to your hormones, what to do about it with nutrition, lifestyle and stress management, and inspiring conversations with guests sharing their insights and tips on how to live your best life in your 40s and beyond. So if you're feeling like you're in the midst of a hormonal storm and don't want perimenopause to be horrific, then join me on Chaos to Calm, as I share with you how to make it to menopause without it wrecking your relationships and life. Hello and welcome back to Chaos to Calm, the podcast where we navigate the roller coaster ride that is perimenopause and how to make it not horrific.

Sarah McLachlan:

I am your host, Sarah, the perimenopause naturopath, and today we're going to dive into a very timely topic because, when I'm recording this, easter is fast approaching us and there's already an abundance of sweet treats in the shop. So today I want to go into managing treats at Easter time and other festivities. I mean, let's face it, in Western culture we well, actually, you know what. This isn't even limited to Western culture, because if you look at cultures around the world, we all have a variety of sweet treats that are used at celebrations. It's very much how you know, food and drink is so much more than nutrition and what it brings to us in terms of sustaining our physical body. There's a whole bunch of mental and emotional stuff that we carry around food and that's conditioned to us very early and I'm just thinking I kind of touched on that a bit last episode with Rowena, and so you can go back if you haven't listened to that, do go back and have a listen to it where we're talking more about the mental and emotional aspects of health and habit change and behavior and things like that.

Sarah McLachlan:

But today we're going to talk all about Chucky because I've only met a handful of people who don't like chocolate. I have met very many women, though, who come to me and are chocolate fiends and very, very dependent and addicted to chocolate. No judgment, of course. I have been there, and done that too, but have you ever wondered why that happens to you? Maybe? Actually, that's probably a whole nother podcast episode on cravings and another one on emotional eating, I suppose as well, but I'm not here to diss on chocolate. I just want to put that straight out here right up front. I like chocolate too. I probably will have a bit of chocolate at Easter time as well, but I very much am not addicted or craving chocolate every day like I used to Go back five years ago before I really mastered my health and for those of you that have been here for a little while, you know that I lost 20 kilos and got my health back on track and got my mood and energy stable again, as well as reducing getting rid of all those perimenopause symptoms I was having, like sweats and flushes and pain and inflammation there as well.

Sarah McLachlan:

But I'm not here to talk completely about that today. Now I want to say, though now, if I desire chocolate, I can have a couple of bits of chocolate and leave it at that. Five years ago, I was easily I could have easily sat and eaten at least half a block, if not more, of something like, you know, Cadbury's dairy milk, so sweet and delicious. Now a couple of squares of dark chocolate and I'm all good, and I kind of feel like I'm back in my childhood days where I could have my Easter chocolate and still have some left almost at the next Easter. I don't know, I feel like it's I don't know if it's personality trait there as well when you're a kid. But I look at my kids and my youngest is like eat all the chocolates in like 24 hours. I have a massive effect on her blood sugar level, a massive crash, and then that's it, I guess, whereas my other kids are a bit more measured in it. Well, some of them it's a wide variety there as well. Anyway, I kind of feel like I'm getting off track. Let's think about you know, like I have lots of clients, like I said, they come to me particularly mid- afternoon. They're really craving some chocolate or after dinner. After dinner seems to be the killer time.

Sarah McLachlan:

Now let's have a look, because there are two aspects to this in chocolate. There's the impact that it has on your blood sugar levels and insulin, and there's also the impact that it has on our neurotransmitters, those brain compounds, particularly dopamine, which is our short-term happiness molecule. It gives us our get up and go, it gets us off the couch and doing stuff. It is our mojo and when we're stressed, busy running around, a whole bunch of stuff happens in our brain, but we end up needing more dopamine, and I've talked about it before and I'll probably talk about it lots of times. Our brain is wired for three main things for bringing us pleasure, avoiding pain and doing that with the least amount of energy used. So our brain is wonderful, you know. It's really clever and its main purpose is keeping us happy, dopamine being our happiness molecule. So of course it wants to boost our dopamine a lot, and it knows that certain things help boost our dopamine, give us a little dopamine hit, and chocolate is one of those. And so when you know your brain senses that you're feeling down or you need a little bit of a boost, it'll go ah, that's right, that chocolate that gave Sarah a boost before. Go eat some chocolate, Sarah, and it'll drive you to eat some chocolate. And I'm not sure how to describe it.

Sarah McLachlan:

But in the natural health world, we associate certain cravings with a need for a certain emotion, and, you know, craving some sweetness and chocolate. Maybe this is sweetness missing in our lives, and when we're, you know, stay with me when you think about it. It's actually quite relevant, because often, what are we doing with craving chocolate in the evening, and it's because it's the first time that we've had the opportunity to sit down and relax and register that we're feeling a bit slumped and bit down. We need a bit of sweetness in our life. Sweetness for us in our life is friends, hobbies, doing something for us, doing something fun. And you know, busy mum life, working like you're in paid work. You know, whatever it is that you're juggling and doing, there's not a lot of time for those sweet things in our life. So that's one aspect of chocolate and why we often crave it.

Sarah McLachlan:

And I did go a little bit off track here because what I actually wanted to talk about today was that Easter time and how we can enjoy some chocolate without it messing with our energy levels and leading to lots of cravings or continuing after Easter has finished. So, yes, that's what I noticed. A lot of women. They come to me they're really craving that chocolate after dinner. It's that's more to do with your brain compounds and chemicals and, you know, bring you some of that sweetness into your life in terms of the things that bring you joy, not necessarily the sugar sweetness. So it's more than metaphorical sweetness. That was the word I was looking for before, and also thank you to everyone who sent me the impulse pictures from two episodes ago from the end of crime disruptors. I can't believe I forgot what that was called, but thank you so much to everyone who sent me the pictures of the impulse cans. I can't believe it's still around. And also, if you can get your teenagers to avoid it, that's great for their help.

Sarah McLachlan:

Let's get back on track, though, yeah, so another reason that you might be really craving sugar is often when we have disordered blood glucose levels, blood sugar levels and insulin resistance, and I've talked about insulin resistance on my blog and also in previous podcast episodes, so if you need to go back and have a listen on that to get a full understanding of what that means. But when we have like a sugar spike in our blood stream and then a crash, our body will want to boost our blood sugar level, get it back into that sort of safe zone, and it wants an instant energy hit. It'll drive you to something sweet, so you might crave lollies or chocolate or chips or toast or any of those sorts of things. That instant energy hits the more simple refined carbs. So that's what sugar and those processed carbs can do actually spike your blood sugar level, and when our blood sugar level spikes, we can actually get similar symptoms to when it crashes sweats, flushes, shakes, anger. A lot of those sound like perimenopause symptoms, don't they? And so that's why managing your blood sugar level and keeping it in a healthier range so stopping it from spiking and just doing a gentle wave across the day can help reduce your perimenopause symptoms.

Sarah McLachlan:

So that's kind of what I most wanted to talk about today was actually, how do we enjoy some chocolate without it impacting our energy, our mood, our metabolism, our flushes, our sweats, all of the things? So, yeah, stable blood sugar means stable mood and stable energy. No mid-afternoon slump needing a coffee hit. No, after dinner sweet cravings. And, yeah, avoiding all those other symptoms as well. So you've heard me talk before about three meals a day, making sure you have protein, fat and some carbohydrates, ideally from vegetables or fruit, but you know I'm not adverse to some bread or crackers there as well, or rice or whatever it is in your meals, and I have my Freebie, the balanced meal formula, to help you with that if you're not sure what a balanced meal looks like, so you can find the link to that in the show notes. Please have a look at it and it will give you some ideas. Like I like to use my hands or your hands as a guide to what you're eating or what the portion size looks like because you've always got your hands with you and it's easy to make it easy to eyeball when you've got an idea of what you're looking for.

Sarah McLachlan:

Okay, so one thing that I tell my kids and I tell my clients, but I tell my kids all the time is if they're going to choose something sweet like, say, we're out and they want to buy something at the canteen at the La Crosse Club, I tell them that I would actually rather them have a chocolate bar than like one of those kilopithans or something like that or some lollies. Now the reason is that that chocolate probably doesn't have some protein unless it's got some nuts in it or something you know like. It's something like that. So maybe that famous bar that says it really satisfies probably does because it's got some protein and some fat in it. So I tell them chocolate bar over lollies, chocolate bar over a soft drink. Why? Because it's got some fat in it, maybe got a little bit of protein, and what happens is that when we eat sweet things with some protein and fat, it slows down the absorption of that sugar into our bloodstream. So instead of getting a big spike and a big crash, it helps to try and keep it in that healthier gentler wave. So of course it depends on how much you're going to eat of that as well. So you know you still need to be mindful of your portion size there, because if you, you know you might eat some protein and fat with your chocolate or before your chocolate, but if you still eat half a big block, a family block of chocolate, you know it's going to impact your blood sugar levels there as well.

Sarah McLachlan:

So combine your chocolate with protein or healthy fats, or have your meal, your balanced meal, and then have your little choky afterwards. That's one thing that I do. I don't eat chocolate between meals because it will, you know, it spikes your blood sugar level. I like to keep it. I have my meal and then I have something afterwards like if I'm going to have some chocolate, then I'll have a little bit of chocolate, then I've got the protein, I've got my healthy fats to slow down that absorption of that sugar in the chocolate and avoid the spikes because what happens when we have spikes and crashes is you get into that loop. So this is why like and this really is applicable to your kids, and if they take in their lunchboxes lots of chips and crackers and simple carbohydrates like that, you get stuck in a sugar cycle. So you get the spike because you eat the simple carb on its own.

Sarah McLachlan:

I call them lonely carbs. You eat those lonely carbs, your blood sugar level spikes up, insulin spikes up as well, and then you're because you've got whoops, your body's made too much insulin trying to manage the spike. Your blood sugar level comes crashing right down. Too much Sugar is taken out of your bloodstream into your cells and your insulin comes crashing down as well, and you get really stuck in that rollercoaster. So you're driven to eat something another simple lonely carb or something sweet to boost up your blood sugar levels, and then the same cycle goes over and over again. So this is why often you might tell me that, oh, I'm hungry every couple of hours, or your kids are hungry every couple of hours. This is a classic sugar cycle. So really the key to helping us to step out of that is your protein and your fats.

Sarah McLachlan:

So a small handful of nuts, eat your meal and then have your chocolate. The other thing that you can do is turn the packet over and read the label. So you want to choose the darker chocolate, as dark as you can tolerate ideally not flavoured, unless it's got, like, say, nuts or fruit in it or something like that. The ones with the creams or the flavourings or the chunks and things like that are really loaded with sugar. So the less sugar it has, the more antioxidants it has the more fat it's going to have in it and the more satisfying it will be in a smaller portion. So even dark chocolate does have some sugar added to it. So if you turn it over, if you're in the shop, spend some time in the chocolate aisle comparing all the labels. I'm not going to give you any brands because they change their ingredients constantly and I could tell you something now and it would be irrelevant next week. So choose the one with the lowest sugar, organic, if you can manage that.

Sarah McLachlan:

And yeah, chocolate has lots of lovely antioxidants in it. It has dopamine precursors in it. So that's also why, if you are feeling a bit flat or low, you might often crave chocolate, or why you crave it in the evening because it does contain precursors to help your body make dopamine, that happiness molecule. It also has the abroma, or the abroma- like compound in it, so it's quite relaxing to your nervous system. So you can see there's a number of things at play and why it is so satisfying and why it helps bring that relief. But what I want you to do is think about why you're getting to that point and adding, like I said, some sweetness to your life. Those other things hobbies, friends, and time on your own they're all part of your self- care toolkit and self- care is actually our long- term stress management tool and that's what helps us avoid getting to that point where we're sitting on the couch at eight o'clock at night and we're feeling really flat and sad.

Sarah McLachlan:

Okay, so you're going to enjoy your chocolate this weekend, in moderation, of course, or eat it mindfully. So just be open and honest with yourself about how much you are eating and actually are you using it to try and suppress the other feelings inside? You Definitely talked about that last episode with Rowe, so do check that one out there as well. Have your chocolate after your meal protein and fat either with it or first, and choose the lowest sugar chocolate that you can find, and dark, of course. So those strategies really easy to implement, and really great for any sweet treat that you're considering, but you know chocolate's relevant at this time of year. They will help stabilize your blood sugar level and avoid hits to your mood, your energy, and let you enjoy and participate in the Easter treats without having to mess up your health or mess up your mood and your energy and your metabolism.

Sarah McLachlan:

There. I always think it's about finding balance, learning how to you know learning the rules so that you learn them like a pro, so you can bend them like a master. I think it was Picasso of Angolf there's something you can all message in and tell me which one was it that said that. But that's what you want to do Learn the rules and then really learn how to work them for yourself there, so that you can, you know, be healthy, be in your best state of health, feel really great in this phase of life, but not feel like you have to miss out on life all the time. So that's all I wanted to share with you today. I hope that helps you enjoy your Easter chocolate, but also understand how to do it well and make informed choices around it.

Sarah McLachlan:

If you want more tips and information on, of course, navigating perimenopause, but also particularly why your body can be more sensitive to fluctuations in your blood sugar levels and insulin in perimenopause, then do please check out my free masterclass.

Sarah McLachlan:

I talk a lot about it there and what to do about it there as well, and there are other free resources on my website and my blog.

Sarah McLachlan:

So, yeah, I'll put those links in the show notes for you to find there, and I look forward to talking with you next week. I'm actually going to be talking all about fad diets or fads in the health industry, so I hope you join me then and learn my thoughts and views on all of those fads that are around at the moment. Until then, I thank you so much for sharing your time with me again today and I look forward to speaking with you next time on Chaos to Calm podcast. It's really common for women over 40 to experience the chaos of changing hormones, mood, metabolism and energy, but I hope you know now that common doesn't have to equal normal for you or them. You can help others understand they aren't alone in feeling this way and that perimenopause doesn't have to be horrific. By subscribing, leaving a review and sharing this podcast with other women in their 40s and beyond. Thank you so much for listening and sharing your time with me today in this Chaos to Calm conversation.

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