Oh, sugar. Why can’t I quit you! ;-)
Actually, I’ve done pretty well quitting sugar — but only after years of trial and error. See, I’d quit for a while, and be so good, and then something would creep up on me… lurking… hiding around an unexpected corner… waiting to POUNCE!
Almost every time a sugar craving, there would be some sort of anxiety or overwhelm in my life behind it. Occasionally I found that they were triggered by seeing a delicious dessert. I’d be at a restaurant or a party, and someone would have something—usually chocolate, let’s be honest—that just looked sooo good.
And those are usually the easier ones to quell, actually, because I’d planned ahead for what I would say or do when offered a dessert.
The much harder ones are the ones that creep up, seemingly out of nowhere—BOOM!—in the quiet moments when you realize that something in your life is just off. Maybe it’s your health, your job, a relationship. That’s when the cravings would start.
Why do we crave sugar?
Science is learning more and more about why we have these sugar cravings in the first place — and what we can do to fight them.
Cravings may have a lot to do with evolution. Sweet is the first taste we prefer from birth, which makes sense: breast milk is sweet. And, back in the day, when we were hunting and gathering our foods, sweet foods—like berries and fruit—were not only safe to eat, but an energy powerhouse. All those carbohydrates could keep our energy up so we could run away from those saber-toothed tigers and bears. ;-)
Nowadays, though, we can get sweet foods any time we want, but our brains and bodies haven’t caught up with this environmental change. (Evolution is slooooow.) So, we still get the hit of pleasurable brain chemicals rewarding us for finding and eating sugar, even though the “finding” consisted of going to the freezer and pulling out a carton of Ben & Jerry’s, rather than climbing an apple tree or gathering wild strawberries. And who doesn’t want a hit of some pleasurable brain chemicals when we’re feeling anxious, overwhelmed or panicked?
Eating sugar is a self-perpetuating cycle, too. When we eat sugar, our brain releases the feel-good chemical serotonin. When we get that signal, obviously we want to keep feeling good, so we want to eat more sugar. That’s why one morning doughnut can turn into two or three, or you end up eating the entire bowl of M&Ms when you meant to have just a few.
THAT’s why sugar cravings are so hard to beat: because our bodies are hardwired in multiple ways to take in sugar—without any breaks for when we’ve had enough.
How to stop a craving in its tracks.
The good news is, because I’ve been fighting off these crazy cravings for quite a while, I’ve got the goods on how to handle it. I’ve developed five fool-proof ways to fight off a sugar craving and stop it in its tracks.
- Eat a heaping spoonful of coconut butter or a buttermint. The good fats and protein in these little treats help you feel full, meaning you just don’t have any room for whatever sweet treat you’re craving. Both coconut and mint are flavors we naturally associate with sweet, too, so you’ll feel like you’re getting a treat.
- Drink some Honey/Lavender Tea. The honey gives you a sweet hit and the lavender relieves stress. And why would you want to relieve stress? Because there is credible scientific evidence that stress can cause sugar cravings, and relieving stress is a good way to fight them. Lavender is another one of those flavors that we naturally associate with sweets, too, so you only need a bit of honey to feel satisfied.
- 2-minute Transformation. Did that last statement about stress being related to sugar cravings ring a bell for you? The next time you feel a sugar craving coming on, take 2 minutes to pull out your journal (or any random piece of paper) and write down what was happening right before. Many times, just the act of acknowledging the stress can help reduce it. Plus, if you keep this up for a week or two, you’ll have a pretty good record of your stress triggers.
What kinds of situations trigger you to feel stressed? What can you do instead of diving into the cookie jar? This kind of self-awareness allows you to really get to the root of those cravings so that you have more tools to deal with them every time they come up.
- Get up from your desk and take a 3 minute walk (outside preferably). Is there nothing a short walk can’t cure? Walking distracts you from your craving, you get more oxygen, wakes you up (because we can crave carbs/sugar when we’re tired), allows you to clear your head and relax. Pretty amazing.
- Tapping away your sugar cravings. Tapping is a part of the Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT) method that relies on pressure points and positive affirmations to help you break through mental blocks. It’s my new favorite go-to tool for fighting the sugar dragon.
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How do you stop your sugar cravings? Let us know in the comments below!
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The article Top 5 Secrets for Stopping a Sugar Craving in its Tracks was originally published to: http://www.annmariegianni.com