There are so many folks out there who have a sugar addiction yet they can’t pinpoint exactly why they crave it. Or, more to the point, how to STOP craving it.
I’d like to take a unique look at this and list some things about sugar cravings that might not have come top of mind for some people.
Firstly, are you actually addicted to it?
Addiction and real, true cravings, are those times that you do whatever it takes to get to what it is you need. Think alcoholics, drug addicts. In the clinical sense, the same is true for any kind of food addiction. If you really, truly crave things you will do whatever it takes to get it – leave your house in a snowstorm with minus 35 degree weather – kind of anything. Most people have a much milder version of this. And sometimes it’s triggered by other things, as we’ll see below. However, there is no doubt that sugar is wreaking havoc on our health and waistlines and for some of us it can seriously thwart our health goals.
Secondly, let’s look at what constitutes “sugar”:
Candy, chocolate bars, cake, icing on the cake, fudge in the cake, fudge, cookies, pop, um, actual sugar, juice, sports drinks, condiments like ketchup, and not to mention all the hidden sources and funny names for sugar. Granola bars, cereal, yogurt and even that “healthy’ bran muffin from the coffee shop can be laden with sugar. And as far as your body’s metabolism is concerned the following are considered sugar too: bagels, croissants, white bread, white pasta, white rice.
Third, let’s look at some reason why it may be happening.
I am slightly obsessed with finding out root cause of things. Yes, you can go ahead and go on a sugar detox, but if you don’t fix the “why”, you may find yourself in the same position a month from now.
yang foods – eating too many yang foods (think yin/yang), such as meat, roasted foods, eggs can lead to a need to have something sweet to balance it out. Check out what the majority of your diet is like. If you’re lacking in sweets at all, you may wish to balance your meals out with sweeter veggies like carrots and sweet potatoes throughout your week so your body (and taste buds) doesn’t get deprived.
emotional – according to Doreen Virtue from Constant Cravings, chocolate equals feeling insecure in loving relationships, glazed donuts means feeling drained from being constantly on guard, and jelly beans mean you’re always worried about work. Tune in to your feelings. Next time you reach for the sweet food, create a pause and ask yourself WHY. What are you FEELING in that moment. What’s the THOUGHT that accompanies the feeling? Journal it.
sweet foods trigger serotonin – if you’re low in serotonin, you may be craving sweet foods in order to help create this hormone so that you feel better. Take stock on whether you’ve been suffering with depression lately.
stress– if you’re stressed all the time, your adrenals will be in overdrive. This causes cortisol levels to rise, which causes fluctuations in your blood sugar which then make you crave something sweet. When we’re in a constant state of stress our body needs quick fuel to burn – enter sugar. If we take more time to relax, our bodies become way more efficient at burning fat.
blood sugar – if you are going too long between meals or eating refined products, your blood sugar is gonna take a nose dive. And the quickest thing we can do to bring it up: eat sugar. It’s why diabetics will get a candy or juice if they’ve fainted. However, eating like this all the time has many negative effects so it’s best to eat regularly, every 3 hours or so.
digestive stuff like bacterial imbalance – Too many bad bugs in your intestine can cause you to crave sugars, alcohol and breads.
natural need for sweetness – Our newborn palates are designed to eat sweet things, think about how sweet breastmilk is. Then mom usually starts us off with sweet potatoes or something like that and then bam – we hate anything that isn’t sweet. I tried something different with my second son and started him on avocado, meat, broccoli etc and now he prefers green veggies over bananas. All this is to say that it’s OK to have sweet things sometimes! It’s the quality of sweet things you have.
deficiency in chromium or choline – these two nutrients, when deficient, can cause cravings in our body. Choline is important for the health of our heart and nervous system (which are inextricably linked). A B Complex supplement or fish, liver, legumes, green leafies and egg yolks have it too. Chromium helps to regulate insulin and blood sugar and helps with carb processing (great for diabetics). A typical sign of chromium deficiency is cravings for sugar. Since taking too much can have reverse effects (you must take with caution), getting it from food is a far safer bet. Meat, shellfish, whole grains, broccoli and brewers yeast all yield good amounts. Also, you want to avoid non foods like processed white bread – they are stripped of chromium.
Fourth, what you can do about it.
Add your own sugar when getting coffee – that way you control it. If you go to Tim Hortons and get a medium double double, you’re getting 22g of sugar – that’s your entire daily allowance.
Retrain your taste buds- As you use less and less sugar, your taste buds will start to react to the super sweet stuff (in a bad way!). All of a sudden that cupcake or glass of coke is super sweet. And probably makes you feel like shit too. So start by using less and less sugar in the things you bake, cook, eat until you’re at a level that no longer feels “too much” to you.
Start using spices like cinnamon – not only does it help balance blood sugar but it helps to sweeten things.
Fruit, organic jam, sweet veggies are a great substitute for artificially sweetened things.
Increase protein (eggs, nuts, lean meats) & fibre (beans, veggies, chia) with your meals to keep blood sugar stable and help you stay fuller longer.
Watch this video for inspiration: Huff Post – they did it in 30 days, and they gave it a chance. You can too.
Lastly I just want to mention that having natural sugars from fruit, dates, honey etc. give you other things than just empty nothingness like the above-mentioned treats so unless you are on a serious anti-candida protocol, you don’t need to completely eliminate everything sweet from your diet, and in fact, if you do, you’ll end up craving it even more and be back where you started. Moderation of everything is the key towards sustainable success.
If you’re having issues in this area, why don’t you book a free discovery call so we can see how I can help you.
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