It seems that everyone is trying to stay away from carbs, with sugar being the biggest enemy. I get it, since sugar causes inflammation and contributes to wrinkles, metabolic and blood sugar disorders, obesity, depression, anxiety, ADHD, and all sorts of other unwanted and even dangerous problems. However, based on my personal and professional experience as a medical intuitive, Licensed Professional Counselor, and person who has been recovered from an eating disorder for three decades, I think it is a mistake to label any food as being bad or good. As a reformed chronic dieter, I know that vilifying a food makes it more forbidden and more guilt-ridden when we eat it and can lead to us wanting it even more.
I think that is the case with sugar. I believe that it is addictive physically as well as emotionally, and being addicted to anything is never healthy. Addictions are substitutes for feeling, thinking, and acting. They take the place of being authentic and vulnerable and interfere with having quality relationships. When we are addicted to any food, we aren’t listening to our bodies. We don’t identify with hunger or being full. We aren’t listening to our intuition about nutrition, thirst, or the need for movement. It is all about fear, self-loathing, pushing down emotions, and becoming numb.
Our bodies naturally crave certain foods, and that is OK! You might crave salt because you are low in sodium or red meat or dark leafy greens because you are low in iron. There are even reasons for craving sweets that are nutritionally based. If cravings for sugar and other sweets are a problem for you or if you just want to reduce your consumption for health reasons, here are some things you might be doing that are contributing and ideas to help reduce those cravings:
When we are tired, we tend to crave sugar and caffeine, which we think will pick us up. Unfortunately, in the long run they have the opposite effect, sending our blood sugar crashing after a brief upswing.
It is important to be aware of stress and even more important to find an outlet for it. Stress is energy, and it needs to be physically and emotionally released. When our adrenals are taxed and we function in constant fight or flight mode, we tend to crave sugar.
Sugar and other similar foods like white flour produce serotonin, which is a neurochemical that can help alleviate anxiety and depression. If we push down our emotions rather than process them, we are tempted to turn to foods that temporarily relieve our unpleasant mood, rather than allow ourselves to feel uncomfortable. Food doesn’t solve the problem though, as we all know. It actually creates more stress and guilt, causing us to eat more.
Waiting too long to eat or not planning your meals
Allowing our blood sugar to get low when we wait too long to eat between meals is a surefire way to set up a sugar craving. We grab something quick, easy, and usually unhealthy to alleviate hunger, fatigue, and our hangry state rather than taking the time to find something nourishing.
Drinking caffeinated beverages on an empty stomach and eating carbohydrates without protein or fat
Doing this causes spikes in blood sugar and adrenal function and quick, exhausting crashes afterward, causing us to crave something that will bring our blood sugar back up and relieve the fatigue.
Using artificial sweeteners and sugar
Studies have shown that using artificial sweeteners can actually cause sugar cravings, and the more sugar we eat, the more we want. When I stopped eating sugar for several weeks, my cravings actually went away.
Not eating enough greens and other foods dense in nutrients
Calcium, zinc, chromium, and magnesium imbalances can manifest themselves as sugar cravings too.
Dieting and not drinking enough water
Diets that restrict calories, carbohydrates, proteins, or fat can create a chemical environment in the body that causes sugar cravings. Often when we are dehydrated, we can mistake being thirsty for being hungry.
If you find yourself wanting something sweet, my advice is to try to stick with natural sugars with some nutritional value like honey, dark chocolate, or fruit. Eat a few bites, chew slowly, and really let yourself taste the flavors. Often, we just need a little to satisfy a sweet tooth, especially after a meal. If you really want something more decadent, make whatever you choose the highest quality. Buy a creamy, delicious piece of chocolate, your favorite cookie from a fantastic bakery, or a cup of homemade ice cream. Put your phone down and concentrate only on the deliciousness. Savor every morsel with a smile—and no guilt.