Sugar is perfectly designed to hook us in. Just about everything sugary looks and smells irresistable and it has a similar effect on the brain to pain-killing drugs like morphine and other opiates (such as heroin). These types of drugs produce an almost instant feeling of pleasure, calm and satisfaction, at least initially, making them incredibly addictive.
For many of us sugar isn’t seen as the problem – it’s the answer: the answer to our sorrows, our lack of energy, and our boredom. For many of us this began in childhood when we were rewarded with sweets when we accomplished something deemed worthy, offered a little chocolate when we’d hurt ourselves or were feeling sad, and showered with sugary treats when loved ones came to visit. Often it is not the sugar we’re enjoying but the comfort we associate with it. The next time a sugar craving hits try this exercise:
Step 1: Instead of just stuffing a sweet into your mouth without thinking about it, stop and ask yourself what am I really craving?
Step 2: Describe the craving by speaking it out loud or write about it in your journal.
Step 3: Ask yourself these questions:
- How do I feel right now? For example “tired, stressed, bored, lonely, angry, mad, sad, confused, totally happy”
- What am I really hungry for?
- What is my intention with eating this sweet?
Step 4: After answering these questions, decide if you still want the sweet.
Step 5: If you decide yes, choose the best possible version/quality of the sweet, AND really ENJOY it!
This is a very powerful exercise. Often simply taking the time to listen to our body and what it is really asking for is enough to help us realise that sugar is not the answer. Usually when we think about it, after the initial comfort wears off, we remember that it makes us feel worse, our stomach more bloated and our energy deflated.
OK! So, how do I stop eating it, even when I know I shouldn’t?!
Here are 10 Tips for Conquering Sugar Cravings:
- Drink water - before giving into a craving sit down and drink a full glass of water, wait 30 seconds and then see if the craving has diminished or gone away.
- Eat sweet vegetables – certain vegetables like sweet potatoes, yams, pumpkin/squash, carrots, onions and beets have a deep, sweet flavour when cooked. Eating a lot of these sweet veggies will satisfy your natural cravings for sweets and reduce cravings for sugary, processed junk food.
- Reduce your caffeine intake – too much destabilises your blood-sugar making cravings more frequent.
- Get more sleep – when your body is tired and stressed out it will crave more energy in the quickest and most convenient form it can lay its hands on – SUGAR!
- Experiment with the amount of animal protein you eat – too little protein can lead to low energy and a variety of cravings. Too much, on the other hand, can also lead to cravings for sugar as the body tries to balance out something that is very “yang” (eg. meat) with its “yin” opposite – sugar. If you suspect your cravings for sugar might be due to too little protein, try having a slice of chicken or some nuts to banish the urge for sugar.
- Experiment with spices – cinnamon can actually reduce blood-sugar levels (and therefore hunger and cravings) and bad cholesterol. It’s also an anti-inflammatory so it can help with aches and pains.
- Chew your food - chewing releases the natural sugars in food. Most people only chew 2-3x per bite. Experiment with chewing each bite 20-30 times. This will help you build an awareness around what you eat and how it makes you feel.
- Eat more “good” fats – good fats are like the anti-sugar. In the same way that sugar gives you premature wrinkles, makes you hungry and causes you to gain weight, good fat will take years off your face, banish your hunger and sugar cravings and help you whittle down your waist. Good fat slows the rate at which sugar hits your bloodstream, allowing your blood-sugar levels to remain steady. Always avoid the “low-fat or diet” versions of anything because they are either full of sugar or low-calorie artificial sweeteners.
- Find physical exercise that you love – exercise balances out blood-sugar and floods the body with feel good hormones. Exercise is an ideal way to release built up physical tension instead trying to alleviate it with sugar, which only serves to anaesthetise the body.
- Slow down and find nourishment in non-food ways – here are some examples:
- Get a hug or a kiss from a loved one
- Pamper yourself with a home-made treat (see my “Video: How to Make Your Own Spa Quality Body Scrub”)
- Take a nap
- Connect with nature
- Watch your favourite movie or read a book
- Visualise your dream life and take the next step toward making it a reality!
These tips work. But if you’re still struggling to achieve the level of energy, body confidence and mental clarity you know you need in order to live the life you truly want …or simply want to make it happen faster, then contact me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org to discuss how we can make that a reality!
Thank you so much for reading. Here’s to helping you find what fuels you!