One of the most popular questions I get is; “Could I be addicted to sugar? I feel like I can’t stop eating it”.
I love sugar too. I love the taste of sweet foods; that warm, lovely, comforting feeling of biting into something sweet.
And guess what…I eat something sweet everyday. Actually, I eat something sweet everyday for breakfast.
I KNOW! You’re probably thinking I’m doing everything wrong!
But I’m not…I enjoy something sweet every morning because it balances me.
One of the reasons we feel such a drive to eat sugar is that we deny ourselves the pleasure of eating something sweet. Sugar is currently a villain and so many of us have removed everything remotely sweet out of our diet.
Sweet is simply a flavour. And we have a natural drive for this flavour because it is rarely found in nature. Honey, ripe fruit, and root veggies are all naturally sweet and give us a lovely balance of energy.
But, the food manufacturers have done a great job at harnessing our natural love of sweet foods and made it abundantly available. Sweets are EVERYWHERE. Refined, cheap processed sugar is in everything from drinks to tomato sauce. They’re all there to kick up our natural drive and make us want to buy more of their products.
And, we know, this drive to over consume processed sugar is a big issue in our health today. THIS is why many of us deny ourselves of anything sweet.
Those of you with willpower (I do not include myself in your group) may have been able to remove everything sweet from your diet for awhile (I last less then a day)…but what happens if you go without for too long? For most of us, we binge.
Uncontrollable intense bingeing. All sugar all the time. But it’s not a sign of “weakness”, it’s a natural reaction to deprivation in a society filled with sugar.
And, there’s a huge difference between high fructose corn syrup and a beautiful ripe and juicy peach. Actually there’s a huge difference between a piece of fruit and fruit juice.
Natural, whole forms of sweet foods are perfectly packaged bursts of sweet.
They give our body the taste we’re looking for, but without causing any ill effect on the body.
So what if I just like sugar? Does that make me a bad person? One with a weak will? One without willpower? Not strong enough to resist?
It makes me sad and a little nauseated just writing those words because I know better. I’ve seen the truth in myself and in my clients. And the truth is; sugar cravings aren’t for the weak, they are simply a flavour. And an enjoyable one.
An important first step for balancing my sugar cravings into something healthy was realizing why I crave sugar in the first place. Over the years I’ve seen these 5 reasons over and over again with my clients. They’re fairly universal…maybe you’ll see yourself in this list too :)
Blood sugar crashes
Ever feel so hungry you feel angry or frustrated? Or that you need to eat NOW! It’s so common it now has it’s own word; you’re feeling “hangry”. This happens when you’ve either gone too long without eating, or you’ve had something overly sweet or refined earlier and now your blood sugar is crashing.
A piece of fruit is more than enough sugar to bring your blood sugar back up, but your body will instead remind you that there’s a vending machine with chocolate bars down the hall. Or that the coffee shop can make you a caramel macchiato. And now you’re on the blood sugar rollercoaster, you go up and down all day.
Find the source of the crashes (what put you on the coaster in the first place, it was probably breakfast) and you’re free from this vicious cycle forever.
Chocolate and other sweet foods always feel so comforting to me. This is because they give our brains a great boost of serotonin every time we eat them. The sweeter the food the bigger the boost (and the bigger the crash later). Those of us who are wired for depression struggle the most on low-carb diets…and tend to go through sugar bingeing cycles if we deprive ourselves for too long. I see it all of the time, your brain chemistry needs sweet…just not a large piece of chocolate cake. Have some sweet potatoes instead :).
Pain and sugar, sugar and pain. When I see chronic pain in a client, I usually find huge sugar cravings. When I see huge sugar cravings (especially for things like candy) I see chronic pain.
I can’t give you an exact reason why refined sugar & pain are so connected, but they are. Even teeny tiny amounts, not enough to spike your blood sugar or trigger inflammation, can increase body pain. And it’s only refined sugar; unrefined sugar doesn’t cause this problem. Click here for a list of refined vs unrefined sugar.
But, what I’ve seen over and over again in most cases (it has worked in all but 1 or 2 clients) is when all refined sugar is out of the diet for 4 or 5 days, pain can drop dramatically. People have even gone off heavy prescription painkillers. It’s almost unbelievable.
It does make sense why we want sugar when we’re in pain. Sugar shoots serotonin into the brain, giving us a bit of relief from the pain. Fruit will do this too, as will starchy veggies…so please keep eating these foods.
Your constitution wants it
I use the principles of Ayurvedic medicine (traditional medicine from India) to balance my diet. I find it helps me stay grounded and talk at a normal talking speed (I’m a bit of a fast talker…). And, my ayurvedic constitution (known as a “dosha”) is balanced by sweet tastes. Sweet balances me. No wonder I loved sweets so much!
So, I enjoy honey, dark chocolate, and sweet fruits and veggies to keep my mind and body balanced.
Sweetness of life
For some of us, our food cravings show us what is missing from our life. In a time where we’re always on the go, when there is always something we “should” do, we have very little pleasure.
We have very little sweetness in our life.
Sweet foods are inherently pleasurable. And sometimes the fact that they’re forbidden makes them even more pleasurable. So we want to hide them or grab a bite when no one is looking. Just a moment of sweetness in a chaotic-feeling world.
I feel we need to come out of the closet with our sweet cravings and really enjoy them. Have fruit, honey, maple syrup, or sweet starchy veggies again without guilt. Enjoy a cookie or a piece of cake out in public and really taste and feel how good it is. Enjoy every single bite of it.
And guess what…when you do, you won’t want it as much. It’s the nice way our body thanks us.
Put sweetness back into your life. Bring back food bliss. It’s okay to enjoy food. It really is.