As a holistic nutritionist, breast cancer thriver, and breast health expert - I am very aware of the reasons to avoid sugar for breast cancer prevention.
But I’m also a foodie and obsessed with living and loving life… and for me, part of that joy is nurturing my sweet tooth!
So how do I consume sugar? I consume it consciously - meaning it’s a present moment choice made in alignment with the highest version of me. It’s a decision that the joy brought by that moment or experience overrides any guilt or fear that would ever come from eating the dessert.
It took a long time, but living without any food fear, food stress, food guilt, or food anxiety is my new normal, and it’s what I teach my clients in my signature 12-week coaching program Breast Cancer Thriver
But there was a time, you guys… when this wasn’t easy for me at all. And my sugar cravings were out of control.
I knew that sugar was bad for me and contributed to the growth and spread of cancer cells. I was super-mindful about my intake and even switched to better sugar forms like maple syrup/dates/raw honey.
….BUT THE CRAVINGS NEVER STOPPED 🤬
I was trying to live this healthy lifestyle but craving something sweet every afternoon was so frustrating! And when I wouldn't “give in,” it would make the nighttime cravings so intense!
And I wouldn't give in to those because I was so afraid of eating sugar and was terrified to do anything to increase my recurrence risk.
It made sticking to this healthy lifestyle consistently and effortlessly seem hard and unattainable for me. And I’d resist the craving every day so that I wouldn’t be “bad,”… and I’d inevitably eat a bunch of cookies a couple of days later only to feel guilty and ashamed.
I wanted to be as healthy as possible for myself and my family, and I wished these cravings would go away so I could get on with my magical thriver life!
Well, here’s the thing gorgeous.
Subconsciously labeling foods as good and bad perpetuates the fear, guilt, shame, stress, and anxiety cycle you’re already feeling.
This is why a huge part of my work with my students in Breast cancer thriver is on changing this belief and this mindset.
Of course, I teach you all about breast cancer prevention nutrition, what foods to focus on, and which ones you might want to reduce or avoid. Still, for ANY change you make to become lasting and sustainable, the motivation behind it must be made from a palace of love and reverence for your health and your body vs. out of fear, force, and control.
Addressing this mindset piece is essential to having the peace and ease your craving after breast cancer, but I do have 3 quick tips I can share with you right now to help you work WITH your body to reduce the cravings.
When you eat carbohydrates in the morning, your body releases dopamine, your brain’s reward hormone.
Since this is triggered early in the morning from breakfast, your brain will want to look for this “reward” again and again because who doesn't like rewards!? Your brain and body are no exception.
The way your brain is going to try and get its “reward,” aka its dopamine fix, is to send you signals for cravings - which is why you get cravings for chocolate in the afternoon, and those feelings get intensified in the evening. Your brain wants its dopamine fix.
Having fewer carbs at breakfast is a great way not to activate this reward circuit in the morning, reducing the need to trigger it later on in the day.
Simple breakfast shifts would be eggs, or a “no oatmeal” made with hemp hearts/flax/chia instead of oats, or switching to oatmeal if you're having a processed cereal or toast.
The goal is to find something that will be lower in carbs than what you’re currently doing so that you can see if this change makes a difference in your cravings.
Adding more protein at breakfast in conjunction with fewer carbs is really helpful too. Dopamine is a neurotransmitter - which is just made up of amino acids - the building blocks of protein.
If you swap out carbs for more protein, you’re giving your brain more of what it needs to make dopamine, so it's not going to send you intense signals for it because it has all the requirements it needs to make it on its own, so there’s no need to send you intense signals (cravings) in search of it.
The brain is mostly made up of fat - so again, giving your brain the nutrients it really needs to thrive first thing in the morning and throughout the day will help stabilize neurotransmitter activity and prevent your body from searching for dopamine and sending you intense signals in the form of cravings.
I’ve had clients implement these shifts and within a couple of weeks have seen dramatic changes in cravings - from not having them at all to actually craving healthier, more nourishing meals and foods in the place of the quick processed or store bought snack they would have normally grabbed.
Again, I’m not anti-sugar or dessert or anything like that - quite the opposite, actually. But I do know what it’s like to feel like you're powerless to cravings and feel like no matter what you do; it’s never enough because these cravings always get in the way and derail any progress you've made.
When you get the brain chemistry all balanced, the compulsion and that auto-pilot action of not being able to stop goes away, and you really can make informed, conscious, empowered, present moment choices that honor and are in alignment with the best version of yourself and can indulge freely without guilt, anxiety, stress.
For more helpful tips to support you holistically, click here to download my free mini-course on the 3 vital steps to thrive after breast cancer!