Chocolate cravings. Can you relate? Did you know that chocolate cravings can be linked to low magnesium levels? Would you ever think that by increasing your consumption of foods rich in magnesium you could keep those cravings at bay?
Magnesium is an essential nutrient for your body, and many people can have low magnesium levels without knowing it. Magnesium plays an important role in balancing your blood sugar levels by helping convert glucose from your food into fuel. If you don’t have enough magnesium in your body, your cells can become less effective at processing glucose. Insulin, a hormone that the pancreas makes, allows cells to absorb and use glucose. In people with insulin resistance, the cells are unable to use insulin effectively, resulting in elevated levels of glucose in the blood, or high blood sugar.
Low magnesium levels are commonly found in people with type 2 diabetes and prediabetes as well.
Nutritional strategies for raising magnesium levels
Your doctor can check your magnesium levels if you are concerned about your glucose levels, and they may recommend supplementation. However, you can make some adjustments in your diet by adding foods that are rich in magnesium (as well as other necessary nutrients). Some examples include:
- Dark leafy greens, especially spinach and swiss chard
- Pumpkin and sunflower seeds
- Sea vegetables such as kelp and dulse
- Black beans
- Almonds, cashews, Brazil nuts and pecans
- Cacao or high-cacao-content dark chocolate (70% or higher)
Adding these magnesium-rich foods to your meals can help with balancing blood sugar, but can also help to keep those chocolate or sugar cravings at bay as well. For some people, consuming a square of a high-quality dark chocolate is enough to squash that craving, but just be cautious if even a little is a trigger for you for more cravings.
Other strategies for balancing blood sugar levels
- Eat within 1 hour of waking
- Space your meals 5-6 hours apart
- Avoid snacking before bedtime (intermittent fasting, or simply fasting between dinner to breakfast has also been shown to improve blood sugar levels as well)
- Drink plenty of water (shoot for at least 64 ounces a day)
- Avoid eating carbohydrates on their own, by pairing with a protein and a fat, even while snacking. The ideal combination is protein + fat + carbohydrate + fiber at all meals.
- Get your Omega-3 fatty acids from fish, flax, walnuts or eggs
Every body is different, so everyone responds to different foods in different ways. You know things are out of balance if you are struggling with keeping your energy up, experiencing brain fog, are hungry, nauseous or dizzy, it may be a sign that something nutritionally is out of balance. Usually cleaning up a few things in your diet, like processed foods or excess sugar, can help. If you need help in putting together a plan for a balanced diet, let me know. I’m here to help!