Do you tend to gravitate toward sugar and sweets like a magnet?
Do you find you crave sugar at least once a day, and feel like you would do just about anything to get it?
Once you start eating sweets, do you find you can’t stop, and tend to overdo it?
If you have ever been addicted to the stuff, you know that sugar cravings can be a full body experience.
If you have ever felt stressed out, sad or emotionally overloaded and just had to have chocolate or some other form of sugar, like…NOW, you know what I am talking about.
If you were to Google “sugar addiction” you would find an overwhelming array of articles explaining how we can become addicted to the stuff, and why is it so terribly toxic to our body and mind when consumed in large quantities on a daily basis.
I won’t go into depth on that here, but suggest that you do your own research, and educate yourself on the subject, and work toward reducing your daily sugar intake in every way possible.
Start with omitting the obvious sources like desserts, pop, candy, and dumping it into your morning coffee. From there, begin reading ALL labels for hidden sugars in processed and packaged foods.
You will be shocked when you begin reading labels to find that items like pasta sauce, canned soups, boxed cereals, and snack bars are loaded with it. Do your part and start reading labels and avoiding sugar as much as possible – especially white sugar and fructose.
Many health experts and nutritionists agree that the obesity and Type 2 Diabetes epidemic is largely linked to heavy sugar consumption above anything else. This goes for processed white flours, baked goods, alcohol, and other foods that convert the same way as sugar does once consumed. It is clear based on the research that if we are going to do one thing toward cleaning up our diets, it is removing sugar and processed foods that will provide the biggest results. Dr Mark Hyman tells us that it is not fat that is making us fat, but sugar and insulin resistance.
There is so much I could write about on this subject, and I offer in depth help with nutrition therapy and addressing the emotional connection to food/ sugar addiction when working one to one with clients. Quickly, I will say that as with any addiction, it is there to serve us in some way. To either numb, distract or avoid what we don’t want to address or feel. It also provides us with a ‘hit’ or a high in some way, and sugar is no exception!
First we have to understand that sugar, once consumed, gives us that quick “boost” and “high” that make us feel better in the moment. It gives us that hit of stimulation, only to lead to a crash in energy, fatigue, sluggishness and headaches shortly afterward.
If you are having sugar in moderation, and allowing for treats and indulgences within reason, this is less of an issue. The problem begins when it becomes a daily habit that leads to blood sugar highs and lows which stress out our body from the dramatic ups and downs, and takes a toll on our body and adrenal glands.
Sugar also decreases our immune system function, causes inflammation, and candida overgrowth in the digestive tract among many other health issues. So it makes sense to tackle this area when embarking on a path to wellness and healthy body weight.
It is important to understand the emotional connection to your food cravings (and any addiction). When a food craving hits, the more intense the urge is to have it, the more it is connected to your emotional state.
A note on withdrawal symptoms: If you have been consuming a lot of processed sugars, alcohol and refined flours, know that when you remove all forms of sugar, your body may go into a ‘detox crisis’ leading to many flu like symptoms such as body aches, fatigue, headaches, skin eruptions and irritability. Know that it will pass and the worst part is usually the first few days. Drink lots of water, rest, and consume more bitter foods like arugula or grapefruit to help curb sugar craving.
Here are some places to begin:
- Check in.
Developing self awareness is going to serve you well in curbing the unconscious habits of feeding your feelings with sugar and ‘sweetness’. When you have a craving – STOP and check in. Ask yourself what you are feeling, and what you are truly hungry for. Is it a relaxing bath, sleep, quiet, a cry? Notice the patterns and times of the day when you have these cravings. Is it at night once the kids are in bed? When you are stressing about money? After a fight with your spouse? When you are feeling helpless or ineffective in your life? How well are you taking care of your whole being?
- Choose a different path.
If you can identify the feeling or need, choose another way to honor, acknowledge and feel your emotions without using food. Make a cup of tea and be alone and quiet with yourself. Call a supportive friend, have a hot bath, initiate a talk with your spouse to share how you are truly feeling. Once the light of awareness has been lit, it’s no longer a habit, but a choice. YOU get to choose in each moment how you want to feel in your body, and align yourself with the food choices that will bring you those feelings.
- Transform Your Stress.
Deliberate and intentional daily stress reduction practices such as meditation, yoga, or breathing exercises, as well as managing your daily schedule in a way that leaves you some breathing room to do the things that allow you to replenish – you will reduce your tendency to reach for food to numb out or distract yourself from the stress you are feeling within.
- Seek Support.
Find an expert that can help you deal with the emotional root cause of your food addictions. Reaching out for support is the greatest gift you can give yourself, and increases your level of success over trying to go it alone.
- Balance Your Blood Sugar
Make sure your blood sugar levels are balanced with adequate protein, healthy fats and whole foods. Allowing yourself to go more than 3-4 hours without food will lead to a blood sugar crash, and you will be more vulnerable to reaching for whatever is in front of you. Likely, something sugary to get your blood sugar back up!
- Curb Your Cravings
Keep 70% dark chocolate in the cupboard for those times when you need something sweet. Just a few squares should be enough to curb those cravings, and dark chocolate has very small amounts of sugar compared to milk chocolate. Find healthier low glycemic alternatives, like foods sweetened with coconut sugar or stevia. Or make your own treats like power balls sweetened with dates. Get creative. There is no need to deprive yourself of sweets all together, but to be conscious and mindful of the times when you want to indulge, rather than doing it in a compulsive manner, will go a long way.
It is important to trust your intuition and know when a well planned treat is simply part of enjoying life, and when you are eating to soothe your uncomfortable emotions on a daily basis as a coping strategy. There is a big difference between the two.
The more tuned in you are to your emotional energy and feelings, along with managing your stress, practicing good self-care, the less you will need to reach for food to cope.
And the more you can make a different, more conscious choice when in the throes of intense sugar cravings and emotional upheaval, the closer you will be to mastering your emotions and cravings.
Sugar cravings can be a sign of an underlying imbalance. The Thrive Program will help you to overcome the imbalances that may be driving your cravings for sugar, including stress!
Need some help to deal with food addiction, emotional eating and learning to eat in a soul – aligned way, free from diets and calorie counting?
Join the Mind-Body Food Freedom: A Radical Self Love Revolution and get started TODAY.
In health & thriving.