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The human body emits a lot of signals, and sometimes we can pick up on these signals to improve our health. However, sometimes the body gives off subtle, yet challenging signals that we tend to ignore or push aside.

In the world of health and wellness, sugar cravings are one of the most subtle and challenging. Generally speaking, people get sugar cravings, act on it, and feel some guilt afterwards, only to repeat the whole cycle all over again. Sugar cravings have a way of getting to people at just the right time of the day, and while some people can make quick changes and overcome them, others need a bit more help.

Why do I crave sugar?

The human body craves sugar for various reasons, and generally each craving is different for each person. Your brain may experience an intense craving because it needs sugar for energy and to function properly. But beyond meeting a need, sugar cravings for adults tend to be habitual, rewarding, or even just physiologic. Let's take a look at this with some of the reasons on why you crave sugar when you do.

Habitual

Your daily habits are formed deep within your brain, and while some sources may say that it takes 21 days to form a habit, the truth is any habit can form as long as the brain is satisfied with the end result. Certain neurochemicals in the brain can cause addiction to sugar, similar to that of illicit drugs, opioids, and alcohol. In addition, changes in dopamine receptors in the brain appear to have an impact on addiction to sugar, as described by a recent study on food addiction. Dopamine gets released by when you experience some sort of happiness and results in a feeling of euphoria. As a result of this hormone response, your brain will habitually desire sugar the way it does other harmful compounds like drugs and alcohol.

Reward systems

Too often, adults looking to stay fit, get fit, or maintain any fitness at all use a reward system for motivation. Actually, a reward system is a great way to motivate a workout and push you to the next level. However, in the case of using sugar as a reward, this may not be the best idea. There is a lot of talk about how sugar addiction is similar to that of illicit drug addiction, and the following research findings may shock you. A 2007 study comparing a cocaine reward system and a sugar reward system showed that sugar can be a stronger draw than cocaine, even for cocaine addicts. The implication of this is that using sugary treats in a reward system is a bad idea. While a sugary reward system at the gym may seem harmless, the results are anything but.

Pathologic

The brain needs glucose to properly function, so it makes sense that the brain will crave sugar in order to get it. Though the body breaks down all carbohydrates into simple sugars, so you don't literally need to eat sugar to feed your brain glucose, physiologically speaking, the brain could be craving this nutrient as a way to get what it wants, even if it doesn't need it. Perhaps your blood sugar is low and your brain is asking for sugar? Your mind could be tricking you into thinking you need sugar when you really don't.

What causes sugar cravings?

It seems that sugar cravings are becoming more and more common in today's world. Sometimes people call these episodes as being "hangry." Rather than accepting that you are hangry, there is a chance that you could be having a sugar craving instead. What are some of the factors that are causing a sugar craving? Listed here are some potential reasons you could be craving sugar.

You finished a hard workout

Working out does quite a bit to your mind and body, and for the most part you gain valuable rewards for your hard efforts. Many people are likely to experience a sugar craving following a workout, and often this may be after you had a personal best in a run, lifted heavy weights, or tried a new high intensity interval training workout. Whatever your reason, as long as you depleted the glycogen stores in your body, you are likely to be craving sugar to replenish this. This would be considered a pathologic or physiologic reason as to why you are having a craving, and it serves a valuable need for the brain and cells.

Your diet is not right

There is no right or wrong when it comes to your diet, but if you are having sugar cravings then it could be due to a diet that is not optimal. If your diet already includes donuts, bagels, candy bars, and soda then chances are your sugar cravings are because of how you have been eating. The more you eat these simple sugars, the more your brain will want them, which can continue the vicious cycle of sugar cravings.

You use artificial sweeteners

The artificial sweetener debate is starting to become clearer in recent years. The use of these alternatives to sugar may save on calories, but they trick the mind into thinking you ate something that is extremely sweet—far sweeter than sugar. For this reason, your brain will crave foods or beverages that are as sweet as what you just had.

It has become a habit

Again with the habitual part. Consider the scenario where you grab a sugary coffee every morning before work at your favorite coffee shop at the same time of day. Now, your body adjusts to these cues. Every weekday morning, your mind will automatically write this into your daily routine. This is the quickest way to start a habitual sugar craving, and chances are if you were to stop going to get coffee, your brain would crave the sugar that you would normally have at that time of the day.

Common reasons for craving sweets

Now that you have some information on what causes your cravings and why you are having them, now is the time to jump into some common reasons for craving sweets.

Poor sleep quality

A common reason for a sugar craving is when you have poor sleep quality at night. Typically, the body needs a certain amount of REM and deep sleep as a way to replenish the mind and body, but when you have inadequate amounts, your body is susceptible to craving sweets the following day.

High stress

Another reason for craving sweets could include high levels of stress throughout the day. Typically, a little bit of stress in your day is considered healthy and necessary; however, chronic levels of high stress could lead to your sugar cravings increasing in intensity following your stressful event or day.

Meal skipping

The last common reason on this list involves a common practice among people trying to lose weight. As a way to conserve calories for a future meal or to make up for being "bad" on a prior meal, some adults skip meals. While this seems logical as a way to prevent weight gain, skipping meals can cause you to have sugar cravings as a result. Generally, this is caused by reduced blood sugar levels.

What your body could be telling you

Now that you have some information on what could be causing your cravings and why you may be having them, you should take the time to understand what your body could be trying to tell you. Here are a few examples of what your body could be trying to tell you about your sugar cravings.

Lack of nourishment

Your body could be telling you that you need to get more nourishment for your brain and the cells in your body. If you take notice of this sign, there is a chance that your blood sugar levels could be low to the point that it is harming your health.

Sugar addiction

Another signal your body could be sending is that it is in full-blown sugar addiction mode, and the cravings you are having are a result of sugar addiction. If this is a signal you pick up on, it could indicate that perhaps you do not need sugar, but rather your brain is demanding you to satisfy its yearning for euphoria.

Boredom

There is a chance that you could be having a sugar craving simply because you are bored. Are the kids out of the house today and you have no idea what to do with yourself? Well, if your sugar cravings are setting in when this happens then it could mean you are bored and having a craving.

How to stop sugar cravings

Fighting and putting a stop to sugar cravings can be a challenge at start. Initially, you may notice that your cravings are in a vicious cycle that only causes you to crave sugar more often. However, there are some things you can do to set your body up for success. Generally speaking, making a modification to your diet is necessary to succeed. Consider reading our article on what to eat when you are craving sugar for even more suggestions. Here are some tips to help you to succeed in putting a stop to sugar cravings.

1. Eat more fiber

Fiber is an underestimated ally that serves a valuable role in your health and wellness. High fiber intake tends to be associated with better colon and cardiovascular health, as well as a reduced risk of cancer and obesity. Unfortunately, the typical American diet is lacking in fiber. The average fiber intake for all Americans over the age of two is 16 grams a day, with women consuming about 18 grams daily and men 15 grams on average. Current guidelines recommend that adults consume between 25 and 30 grams of fiber every day. Fiber is a starchy substance that passes through the digestive system untouched, meaning that fiber is not processed at all in the stomach or intestine. Fiber helps to slow the absorption of the foods you eat and it can also help to curb cravings you have by keeping you full for longer. Consider eating foods that are naturally high in fiber—like vegetables, beans, legumes, and whole grains —to help curb cravings.

2. Consume lean protein

Lean protein options are beneficial for health for a variety of reasons. Eating lean proteins such as salmon, halibut, and chicken can help to fill you up at a meal and keep you feeling full for longer. This means that your blood sugar levels are better managed, which means a possible reduced risk for a sugar craving before the next meal. Include lean protein options as much as you can to help fight off your sugar cravings.

3. Drink enough water

Your body is mostly made up of water; it is the most abundant substance in your body by far, which means you need to replenish your water stores as much as possible each day. Many of the body's processes are associated with your overall hydration status. In addition, the more dehydrated you are, the greater the chances that you will have some hormonal imbalance. Your sugar cravings may occur as a result of being thirsty, so replenishing the water in your body is often a quick fix. Consider drinking about six to eight glasses each day to stay hydrated and avoid sweetened drinks as much as possible with.

4. Make healthy substitutions

Another way to stop sugar cravings from affecting you throughout the day is to swap healthy foods for unhealthy ones. This is perhaps the most challenging of all these options, but it is one of the most effective ways to cut out cravings. By switching out your chocolate or candies for some fresh fruit or vegetables, you are telling your brain that you no longer want to load up on sugar and you'll avoid setting off sugar cravings as well. Consider cut up fruit or vegetables as a snack, nuts to curb appetite, or even hot tea (unsweetened of course) to turn your midday treats healthier.

5. Cut out artificial sweeteners

Artificial sweeteners are becoming quite common in today's world, and now it seems more people are consuming more of the artificial product rather than sugar. Many of these users are attempting to cut sugar out of the diet to lose weight (by saving calories) and improve wellness. However, studies have shown that the use of artificial sweeteners in foods and beverages can lead to weight gain, as well as strengthen and encourage sugar dependence and cravings. With this in mind, it seems that one of the best ways to cut out sugar cravings from your life once and for all is to stop eating both sugar and artificial sweeteners. While this lifestyle change may take some time to completely master, the rewards will be worth it when successful.

Originally posted on Sweetdefeat.

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Did you hear that? That was the sound of Nordstrom and Maisonette making all your kid's summer wardrobe dreams come true.

Nordstrom partnered with Maisonette to create the perfect in-store pop-up shop from May 24th-June 23rd, featuring some of our favorite baby and kids brands, like Pehr, Zestt Organics, Lali and more. (Trust us, these items are going to take your Instagram feed to the next level of cuteness. 😍) Items range from $15 to $200, so there's something for every budget.

Pop-In@Nordstrom x Maisonette

Maisonette has long been a go-to for some of the best children's products from around the world, whether it's tastefully designed outfits, adorable accessories, or handmade toys we actually don't mind seeing sprawled across the living room rug. Now their whimsical, colorful aesthetic will be available at Nordstrom.

The pop-in shops will be featured in nine Nordstrom locations: Costa Mesa, CA; Los Angeles, CA; Chicago, IL; Austin, TX; Dallas, TX; Bellevue, WA; Seattle, WA; Toronto, ON; and Vancouver, BC.

Don't live nearby? Don't stress! Mamas all across the U.S. and Canada will be able to access the pop-in merchandise online at nordstrom.com/pop

But don't delay―these heirloom-quality pieces will only be available at Nordstrom during the pop-in's run, and then they'll be over faster than your spring break vacation. Happy shopping! 🛍

This article is sponsored by Nordstrom. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Motherly and mamas.

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For decades, doctors have prescribed progesterone, one of the key hormones your body needs during pregnancy, to prevent a miscarriage. The hormone, produced by the ovaries, is necessary to prepare the body for implantation. As the pregnancy progresses, the placenta produces progesterone, which suppresses uterine contractions and early labor.

But a new study out of the UK finds that administering progesterone to women experiencing bleeding in their first trimester does not result in dramatically more successful births than a placebo. Yet, for a small group of mothers-to-be who had experienced "previous recurrent miscarriages," the numbers showed promise.

The study, conducted at Tommy's National Centre for Miscarriage Research at the University of Birmingham in the UK, is the largest of its kind, involving 4,153 pregnant women who were experiencing bleeding in those risky (and nerve-wracking) early weeks. The women were randomly split into two groups, with one group receiving 400 milligrams of progesterone via a vaginal suppository, and the other receiving a placebo of the same amount. Both groups were given the suppositories through their 16th week of pregnancy.

Of the group given progesterone, 75% went on to have a successful, full-term birth, compared to 72% for the placebo.

As the study notes, for most women, the administration of progesterone "did not result in a significantly higher incidence of live births than placebo." But for women who had experienced one or two previous miscarriages, the result was a 4% increase in the number of successful births. And for women who had experienced three or more recurrent miscarriages, the number jumped to a 15% increase.

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Dr. Arri Coomarasamy, Professor of Gynecology at the University of Birmingham and Director of Tommy's National Centre for Miscarriage Research, said the implications for that group are "huge." "Our finding that women who are at risk of a miscarriage because of current pregnancy bleeding and a history of a previous miscarriage could benefit from progesterone treatment has huge implications for practice," he said.

It's estimated that 1 in 5 pregnancies ends in miscarriage. And while even a spot of blood no doubt increases the fear in every expectant mother's mind, bleeding is actually a very common occurrence during pregnancy, Coomarasamy said. Still, first trimester bleeding is particularly risky, with a third of women who experience it going on to miscarry.

So for women who have been through it multiple times, Coomarasamy's findings are an important avenue to explore. "This treatment could save thousands of babies who may have otherwise been lost to a miscarriage," he added.

The study is among a number of recent groundbreaking discoveries made by doctors looking to further understand what causes miscarriages and what can be done to prevent them. While about 70% of miscarriages are attributed to chromosomal abnormalities, doctors recently learned that certain genetic abnormalities, which exist in a small group of parents-to-be, could be discovered by testing the mother and father, as well as the embryo.

Doctors have also discovered that even knowing the sex of your baby could predict the complications a mother may face, thus helping medical professionals to assist in keeping the pregnancy viable.

But while there is no sweeping solution to stop miscarriages, for some couples, the use of progesterone does offer a glimmer of hope. "The results from this study are important for parents who have experienced miscarriage," Jane Brewin, chief executive of Tommy's said. "They now have a robust and effective treatment option which will save many lives and prevent much heartache."

Brewin added that studies like this one are imperative to our understanding of how the creation of life, which remains both a miracle and a mystery, truly works. "It gives us confidence to believe that further research will yield more treatments and ultimately make many more miscarriages preventable," she said.

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It's never easy to give up a career and launch a whole new one, but when I decided to end my time as an opera singer and move into the field of sales, I knew I could do it. After all, I had the perfect role model: my mom.

When I was growing up, she worked as a dental hygienist, but when I started college, she took some courses in sales. She was single with two kids in college, which was a driving force to make more money. But above that, she truly had a passion for sales. In no time, she got jobs and excelled at them, ultimately earning her the title of Vendor Representative of the Year at her electronics company.

When I entered the field of sales, an unusual and unexpected twist followed. Several years into my career, I was hired by a different electronics company. My mom and I ended up selling similar products to some of the same businesses. (Neither of our companies realized this, and we have different last names.)

But rather than feeling uncomfortable, I saw this as a great opportunity. She and I were both committed to doing our best. More often than not, she beat me when we went after the same piece of business. But in the process, I learned so much from her. I was able to see how her work ethic, commitment and style drove her success. I had even more to emulate.

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Here are some of the biggest business lessons I learned from my working mom:

1. Use your existing skill set to differentiate yourself.

As a dental hygienist, my mom knew how to talk to people and make them feel comfortable. She had also served as a youth leader at three different churches where my dad preached. In each town, she found at-risk kids, brought them together and developed programs for them. She had learned how to help people improve themselves and make their lives better.

In sales, she did the same thing, focusing on how the products or services she was selling could genuinely make a difference in the lives of her customers. Those skills translated seamlessly into her new career.

2. Start strong from day one—don't wait for permission to launch your full potential.

From day one at a job, my mom showed up with energy and vigor to get going. She didn't take time to be tentative. Instead, she leaned into her tasks—the equivalent of blasting out of the gate in a race. Having seen how well this worked for her, I strive to do the same.

3. Have empathy, it's essential.

Many women have been falsely accused of being "too emotional" in business. However, empathy is a necessity and drives better results. As a businesswoman, my mom set herself apart by demonstrating genuine empathy for her clients and her colleagues. She loves getting to know people's stories. That understanding is a key component in her finalizing deals and helping her company reach higher levels of success.

4. Learn often—you're never done building your skill set.

My mom is the reason I spend at least three months out of each year getting a new certification or learning a new skill. She's always working to improve, harness new technologies or develop new competencies—and she's passed on that eagerness to learn to me. She knows that to stay on top, you have to keep learning.

5. Bring on the charm.

By nature, I'm analytical. I like to present the numbers to clients, showing the data to help sway their decisions. And that has its place, but charm is universal. Being someone people want to do business with makes a huge difference. If I had a nickel for every time a prospect told me, "I love your mother," I could retire now! Business, especially sales, is about the connections you make as much as the value you bring.

Our paths have taken our careers in different directions, but along the way, I've done my best to incorporate all these skills. Thank you, mom, for teaching me all this, and much more.

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Work + Money

Every mom has her own list of character traits each of she hopes to instill in her children, but there is one that stands out as a big priority for the majority of millennial mothers.

Motherly's 2019 State of Motherhood survey revealed that kindness is incredibly important to today's moms. It is the number one trait we want to cultivate in our children, and according to stats from the Harvard Graduate School of Education, this emphasis on kindness couldn't come at a better time.

In recent years kids and parents have been straying from kindness, but these Ivy League experts have some great ideas about how today's moms can get the next generation back on track so they can become the caring adults of tomorrow.

Between 2013 and 2014, as part of Harvard's Making Caring Common project, researchers surveyed 10,000 middle and high school students across the nation. They found that no matter what race, class or culture the kids identified with, the majority of the students surveyed valued their own personal success and happiness way more than that of others.

Why do kids value their own success so much more than things like caring and fairness? Well, apparently, mom and dad told them to.

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Eighty percent of the 10,000 students said their parents taught them that their own happiness and high achievement were more important than caring for others. (So much for sharing is caring.)

The folks at Harvard say that valuing your own ambition is obviously a good thing (in moderation) in today's competitive world, but prioritizing it so much more than ethical values like kindness, caring and fairness makes kids more likely to be cruel, disrespectful and dishonest.

So how do we fix this? Here's Harvard's four-step plan for raising kinder kids.

1. Help them practice being nice

Giving kids daily opportunities to practice caring and kind acts helps make ethical behavior second nature. They could help you with chores, help a friend with homework or work on a project to help homelessness.

All those tasks would help a child flex their empathy muscles. The key is to increase the challenges over time so your child can develop a stronger capacity for caregiving as they grow.

2. Help them see multiple perspectives

The researchers want kids to “zoom in" and listen closely to the people around them, but also see the bigger picture. “By zooming out and taking multiple perspectives, including the perspectives of those who are too often invisible (such as the new kid in class, someone who doesn't speak their language, or the school custodian), young people expand their circle of concern and become able to consider the justice of their communities and society," the study's authors' wrote.

3. Model kindness

Our kids are watching, so if we want them to be kinder, it's something we should try to cultivate in ourselves. The Harvard team suggests parents make an effort to widen our circles of concern and deepen our understanding of issues of fairness and justice.

4. Teach kids to cope with destructive feelings

According to the researchers, the ability to care about others can be overwhelmed by a kid's feelings of anger, shame, envy, or other negative feelings. They suggest we teach our kids teach that while all feelings are okay to feel, some ways of dealing with them are not helpful, or kind (for example, “Hitting your classmate might make you happy, but it won't make them happy and isn't very kind. Counting to 10 and talking about why you're mad is more productive than hitting.")

While the folks at Harvard are concerned that so many kids are being taught to value their own happiness above all, they were also encouraged by the students who do prioritize caring and kindness. One of the students surveyed wrote, “People should always put others before themselves and focus on contributing something to the world that will improve life for future generations."

If we follow the advice of Harvard researchers, the world will see more kids that think like that, and that's what future generations need.

[A version of this post was originally published November 8, 2017. It has been updated.]

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These days more women are having babies into their 40s, but the idea that women are facing down the biological clock is pretty pervasive—once you're over 35, you automatically receive that "advanced maternal age" classification, while your male partner's age may never even be mentioned. The pressure on older moms is unfair, because according to new research from Rutgers University, men may face age-related fertility decline too and America's dads are getting older.

It's a new idea, but this finding actually takes 40 years worth of research into account—which, coincidentally, is around the age male fertility may start to decline. According to Rutgers researchers, the medical community hasn't quite pinpointed the onset of advanced age, but it hovers somewhere between ages 35 and 45.

The study which appears in the journal Maturitas, finds that a father's age may not just affect his fertility, but also the health of his partner and offspring.

Based on previously conducted research, the team behind this study found evidence that men over 45 could put their partners at greater risk for pregnancy complications like gestational diabetes and preeclampsia. Babies born to older fathers also have an increased likelihood of premature birth, late stillbirth, low Apgar scores, low birthweight, newborn seizures and more. The risks appear to exist later in life, too: Research suggests children of older fathers have greater risk of childhood cancers, cognitive issues and autism.

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There's been plenty of studies surrounding advanced maternal age, but research on advanced paternal age is pretty slim—scientists don't quite understand how age correlates to these factors at this point. But researchers from Rutgers believe that age-related decline in testosterone and sperm quality degradation may be to blame. "Just as people lose muscle strength, flexibility and endurance with age, in men, sperm also tend to lose 'fitness' over the life cycle," Gloria Bachmann, director of the Women's Health Institute at Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School, explains in a release for this news.

As we've previously reported, more and more men are waiting until later in life to have children. According to a 2017 Stanford study, children born to fathers over 40 represent 9% of U.S. births, and the average age of first-time fathers has climbed by three-and-a-half years over the past four decades —so this research matters now more than ever, and it may represent the first step towards setting certain standards in place for men who choose to delay parenthood.

The biggest thing to come out of this research may be the need for more awareness surrounding advanced paternal age. This particular study's authors believe doctors should be starting to have conversations with their male patients, possibly even encouraging them to consider banking sperm if they're considering parenthood later in life.

Women certainly tend to be aware of the age-related risks to their fertility, and many regularly hear that they should freeze their eggs if they're not ready for motherhood. And while it's still too early to say whether we'll ever examine paternal age this closely, this research may set a whole new conversation in motion.

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