Sugar craving are a real beast when they take hold, but when it comes to consuming all things sugary and sweet are you a moderator or an abstainer? So what I mean by that is, can you have one chocolate hobnob? (or another treat that you like) and move on, or would you throw down 5 of those bad boys without so much as an inhale in one sitting? When you are a moderator you are ok with one and never really have the urge to go crazy. The flip side of this is perhaps you feel like you need to completely abstain otherwise you'll empty the cupboards! I don't believe that it's just because you have an additive personality type, I think it is much more deep rooted than that. I also don't think throwing around phrases like "you just need more willpower" is helpful or even particularly an accurate reason why we have certain behaviours either. I mean if it was just a matter of willpower we'd all be able to make simple changes just by giving ourselves a bit of a pep talk, does that work for you all the time? Probably not!
There are of course lots of reasons why sugar has become our nemesis, but I will give you a few reasons to have a think about.
You are feeling emotional and find comfort in food
We have all heard the line "you are eating your feelings" before. Comfort eating is probably something we have all done at some point, or even the opposite, perhaps you have completely lost your appetite through stressful situations, both aren't great places to be, and we know that. So why do we still do it? Sugar gives us that endorphin rush that we need to make us feel better, it's a hug from the inside, but it's fleeting and often followed with regret and hating yourself a little more each time.
Personal I am more of a moderator, I can have one glass of wine and stop, so I can't tell you how to fix things if I haven't been through the same path as you, but that's the thing, no-one can, nobody has been in your shoes with exact same thoughts and feelings. All I can do is help guide you towards change. There is always a root cause to overeating. Before you grab that extra slice of cake, just think to yourself. Do I really want this? Is it because today was a rough day? Go call a friend and vent to them, perhaps put on your favourite music dance around a little. Maybe go for a walk or get creative! When we utilise the little space between a thought and an action we can decide to make a different decision.
You have bacterial overgrowth
Now this is not an area I know everything about, but you can do some research on SIBO (small intestinal bacteria overgrowth) and see if it's something you want to delve into a little more. If you have used a lot of medication in your life, have diabetes, celiac disease or have scarring in the gut from surgeries or suffer from Crohn's disease, then you could have an imbalance or overgrowth of bad bacteria in your gut. Now that excess of bacteria is damn hungry, and they want sugar immediately! So this instantly eradicates the willpower thought right away, you literally can't control the cravings until you can deal with the overgrowth. If you want to read more on this check out Chris Kresser's post here
You haven't slept well
I have talked about this before, but it’s another fact that makes rational decision making very difficult. Poor sleep has a whole host of problems, one of them being hormonal, hormones control a multitude of processes in the body. When we don't sleep well two important hormones become unbalanced. Ghrelin is our hunger hormone and leptin is our satiety hormone, so what happens when we are lacking in sleep is that ghrelin rises and leptin decreases, which means we are pretty much always hungry and never really satisfied. All we want to do is eat now, and the sugary carbs are calling our name. If you can prioritise and get as much sleep as possible that is great, but obviously there will be times when that just isn't possible, kids anyone?
What I want to leave you with here is as long as you can identify why in this moment you are having cravings perhaps you can concentrate on fat and protein that day to feel fuller for longer. Awareness is the key.
You have been on a deprivation diet
If you have restricted your eating all week and haven't really enjoyed those low fat meals you've prepared from Monday to Friday then come the weekend you're more than likely planning a cheat night. However that cheat night becomes a cheat weekend. You eat pizza, ice cream, jelly sweeties and all the fizzy drinks in the house. Your body is screaming out because you haven't presented it with the love of good whole food all week. If you feel the need for a major cheat night that food you've been eating all week hasn't been right for you. No-one should feel deprived when trying to create a healthy eating lifestyle, that's not how it works, I promise. Eat all of the good wholesome non-processed foods all week and there will be no need for major binges that make you feel wretched the next day.
You have overdone the cardio
Excess cardio, and when I mean excess I mean more than 30-40 minutes of steady state cardio multiple times a week. When the only exercise we do is chronic cardio in nature we become extremely reliant on sugar for energy. Not only that, after the workout we tend to overeat sugar because we have depleted the only energy system our body knows as an energy source. Shorter workouts that concentrate more on weight training will tap into our fat stores for energy and we aren't as ravenous after a workout.
You don't take enough time over our meals
Have you ever sat down in front of a movie and just mindlessly eaten a big bag of something sugary, or eaten your dinner so fast that you forgot what it even tasted like? We are so distracted by technology these days and eat so fast that we don't give our brain a chance to tell us we are full. Take a little more time over your food, really taste what is in front of you and give your brain a chance to enjoy the flavours, then perhaps you'll stop eating much sooner.
Perhaps you need to reset our palette
From personal experience I have trained my palette to literally not like the taste of super sweet foods, they no longer taste good to me. Now don't get me wrong, I haven't deprived myself, it's just the more that I concentrated on whole natural foods the more my palette began to naturally change. Hate the thought of really dark chocolate? Start off slowly and gradually up your cacao content, you'd be surprised how all of a sudden you've loving the dark stuff. The more you eat the fake sugary stuff the more your palette expects it, so why not try the opposite and slowly get your palette liking other flavours and textures. If all else fails and you find yourself craving something sugary at night, go brush your teeth, it'll help tell your brain your done eating for the day.
You are literally pre-disposed to gorge on sugar
I remember watching a documentary a long time ago discussing sugar, and even Palaeolithic man craved sugar as it was a dense energy source. So if he came across honey or berries he would have gorged upon those for sure, because he didn't know when he would ever get the opportunity again. So genetically we are perhaps hard wired to have those same cravings, our brain doesn't know there is actually an abundance of sugar everywhere. Today we can gorge on as much as we want, and every day if we really feel like it. My advice is if it’s not in the house you won’t eat, so every time you are shopping start to buy less and less of the so called treats. Then it’s eventually it’s just normal not to have that junk in the house.
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