Ok, so it’s Halloween (or the holidays, or a birthday, or heck… a frickin’ Tuesday)… and all you can think about is CANDY & SWEETS!
You’ve been trying to ‘be good’. You’ve been trying to LIMIT your sugar intake. And while maybe it works for a little bit… once you get a taste of that twix, you feel like 2 for you still isn’t enough! #KingSizeIsTheRealFunSize
Let me be the one to tell you… it’s OK! It’s going to be ok. You CAN find your balance. And most of all, I’m inviting you to find compassion and encouragement for yourself.
Now, let’s look at the science. Sugar addiction. Yes, it’s a thing. And you won’t hear me say things like that often, because I really DON’T want us to think of foods as ‘bad’. So let me be clear, food itself is NOT an addiction. That would be like calling ‘air’ an addiction… or sleep! If we NEED something to literally stay alive, then saying we want to ‘quit’ that thing is saying what? An addiction is something we can survive completely without. It’s a luxury, often a coping mechanism, a subconscious reaction or habit.
Ok, I say that to frame the fact that yes, sugar CAN be addicting. Why? Well, like food in general, sugar creates a physiological response in the body that sets off our pleasure receptors, releases endorphins, and gives us this instant comfort feeling of “ah, I’m better now”… even if we feel sick, not satiated, or low energy later. Because sugar reacts so quickly in our body, the intensity of that ‘pleasure’ is high. Couple that with the way simple sugar or simple carbs process in the body, and it can leave us feeling like we need more after the surge of blood sugar and energy turns into a bit of an energy crash.
However, when we try to cut something out completely, it’s just like telling a crack addict, “just stop doing drugs.” (Ok, I’m not making light of those who struggle with drug abuse here, and I totally know it’s a lot different.) I’m simply using this example as an analogy of how the person who is experiencing any kind of dependency feels… They feel like knowing it would be good to stop, and actually stopping are 2 totally different things!
The tendency to get a little more sugar-cravingy (let’s make that a word) can happen during seasons of celebration, stress, poor meal planning, environmental changes including what those closest to us eat, and more. So, if you find yourself in a season of sugar cravings… here are 3 tips to help!
1 – EAT THE SUGAR!
Yes, you read that right. Now, I am going to expand on that. When I say eat the sugar, I simply mean that you shouldn’t go into a season like this expecting yourself to, well, be eating Whole 30 the whole time! In fact, it’s this mindset that lands us in craving land! When “permission” goes away, our mind is literally wired to spend energy and focus on what we “can’t have”.
Instead, I want you to give yourself permission to have some candy, some cake, whatever you tend to crave. Then, practice having a serving size while you are relaxed, enjoying it, and taking in the experience and eating it slowly. Still want more? Drink some water, and walk away from the situation for a few minutes. Also, check in to see if the craving is actually hunger, and if it’s because you need an actual meal. If you still want more, do the same thing. Allow for the serving size, eat it slow and enjoy it.
What you’re doing here is a practice. It’s a practice of learning your line between satisfaction and over-indulgence. It’s about getting more in tune with your cravings and your appetite. It’s about practicing permission to have any food you want, and at the same time learning to implement gentle boundaries to help you nourish your body with mostly healthy foods (ex. of the gentle boundaries are the mentions of doing things like drinking water, walking away for a few moments, and making sure you are eating regular nutritious meals.
2 – Up the Quality
When I’m craving a cake or cookie and I’m going to make it at home. I immediately go to my phone and google a “healthy” option or a “gluten-free” version or “low sugar”. Most of the time I combine those recipes with a normal recipe. Because… balance, and taste. There are, though, a ton of DELICIOUS sweets and desserts that are actually made with mostly whole food ingredients, or they use honey, fruit or maple syrup instead of just white sugar. I’m also a fan of coconut sugar, and monk fruit sweetener which is similar to stevia but textured more like sugar.
Another way to up the quality is to look for an organic version of what you already buy. Don’t opt for “sugar-free” candy, but instead look for a version that has less sugar, or is organic, or sweetened naturally.
When we up the nutritious value in our food, yes, even in desserts or candy, our body is going to process it better. Our body is going to recognize more “oh, I’m having real food. I’ll use what nutrients I can.” That is a very simplified explanation, but it ultimately does work like that. And don’t even take my word for it, try it for yourself! The possibility is, you can find new recipes that used to be go-to sugar bombs and now you have a new recipe that tastes essentially the same, and you’ll feel better after eating it!
3 – Create a Post-Craving-Indulgence Plan
Ok, so you had the season, the moment, the week, where you knew the sweets were coming. And so they did. And you did your best to eat slow, enjoy them, begin with a serving size, and choose the options with the most nutrient-dense ingredients.
Now, you’re in the aftermath. A new season and a desire to reel back even a little bit more on the sweets. Which, remember, sugar is addicting. So we can find ourselves stuck in craving mode a little bit here, and that’s ok. The key is to come up with a personalized plan.
By personalized, I mean what is a doable amount of treats to have in a week, so that you don’t feel deprived. And you also don’t feel like the cookie monster-gone-rogue.
When we detox a little bit from sugar, interesting things happen. Our taste buds actually re-adjust and we are able to notice the natural sweetness in our food, whereas before it might have tasted sour or more bland.
One example would be to give yourself a certain number of times a week that you will choose to have a dessert/candy/sweets. Maybe it’s 1. Maybe it’s 3. And I want you to track it. For 2-4 weeks practice the “tapering down plan”. And then reassess and go from there.
Thank you for reading! I’d love to hear your takeaways! Leave a comment below and let me know which tip is your fave!
If you’d like to get to know your tendencies with food, TAKE MY FREE FOOD-BELIEF PERSONALITY QUIZ!
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