“Why do I crave sugar and sweet stuff?” my friend asked me, 3 weeks after she started a regular workout and healthy nutrition routine. I couldn’t give a witty, one sentence answer. The question, though simple, had to be approached from both a psychological and a scientific angle.
The Science of Sugar Cravings: Processed sugar makes you feel good, it snaps you out of a bad mood and gives you a “high”. Scientifically, sugar has been proven to contain a high level of dopamine and endorphins that boosts moods and provide a temporary “high” feeling.
When you eat sugar often, the receptors in your brain start to down regulate and your sensitivity reduces, like an addiction, you’ll always need more sugar to reach the same “high” reached earlier. If you find yourself often reaching for the second pack of chocolate cookies in one sitting, think about this.
How can something so sweet be so bad?
Even a good thing, if consumed in excess becomes bad. The downside of sugar is that when it is overly indulged in, it will trigger an overdrive in the brain resulting in a crash, loss of control, irritable nerves, withdrawal symptoms and ultimately, further “highs” cause weight gain and its side effects.
The Psychology of Sugar Cravings: People use sugar, sweets, fizzy drinks and similar junk as a quick fix to feel better and to escape from the perceived monotony of their lives, so when lonely, sad, frustrated or unhappy, many people will turn to sugar to pick them up. Alternatively, when a person is happy, is celebrating a promotion at work, a new relationship, an achievement, a birthday, sugar shows up again. From childhood, most people have been programmed to associate sugar with a rewarding feeling; a well behaved child was rewarded with candy, rather than apples. The solution to sugar craving is simple, it will require a lot of will power, but you are taking back control of your body. Some of the solutions are:
1. Recognize the trigger thoughts that bring about the reliance on sugar, whether it’s a sad feeling or a happy feeling; recognize it and the pattern of thoughts that accompany it.
2. Nip it in the bud with self talk, yes, I am sad, but the solution is not sugar. Write positives that have occurred in your life and meditate on them.
3. If it’s a celebration that kick starts your sugar need, re-train your palates to celebrate differently. Frozen yoghurt is a great alternative to ice cream. Give yourself a gift, take yourself for a date, or a spa treat.
Always remember Pavlovs dogs, every time he fed them, he rang a bell, then, every time they hear the bell ring, they salivate in anticipation of food. Recondition yourself, you are YOU.
Finally, have a cheat meal once a week, or once a month, depending on where you are in your healthy lifestyle journey. It s a marathon, not a sprint.
Coach B Fitness Zone.