Happy Tuesday!! Back this week with a topic I find most people struggle with at some point, SWEETS! Whether it’s the fact that you crave them, don’t have self control with them, or BOTH, the struggle is real.
So let’s start with why you may crave sweets:
1.You’re not eating enough. Simply stated, your body isn’t getting enough fuel. Carbs are the body’s #1 source of fuel, so physiologically that’s what your body is going to want! It doesn’t care about being full for hours, it just cares about getting quick immediate fuel, which is why our hormones tell our brain: CARBS (aka glucose). Glucose raises your blood sugar quickly. Our bodies know this, which is why we feel that urge for carbs!
2.You’re not properly balancing your meals. If you eat carbs on their own, they’re going to get processed & used very quickly, leaving you hungry soon after. I remember in college I always used to eat cereal for breakfast. I was so confused as to why I was hungry again by the time I got to class in the morning! I’d then have a banana and same thing, in another hour I’d be hungry again! Why was I always hungry?!?! Little did I know I was putting myself on a blood sugar roller coaster by just consuming carbs! By starting off the day with just carbs, I was setting myself up to continue craving them. Adding protein & fat was an easy (and delicious) solution to that problem.
3.You’re being too restrictive! The second something is deemed off limits is the second you start wanting it more. That’s just human psychology! I think so many people worry that they will gain a ton of weight if they allowed themselves what they truly wanted. When really, normalizing all food will lead to you being able to eat normal amounts of it without feeling out of control when it’s present. You’ll also find you want it less because you KNOW you can have it at any time. It’s important to note here too that this doesn’t happen with the flip of a switch, it takes a while to unlearn all the rules about what’s ‘off limits’. Be patient with yourself.
So to recap so far on what you can do to lessen your sweet cravings:
1.Make sure you are eating enough. Enough with this 1200 calorie bullshit. That’s not even enough food for a small child! You’re a grown ass adult and your body needs adequate fuel to function & be healthy.
2.Make sure you are having a good balance of protein, carb, fat & veg each time you eat. This will properly nourish your body, keep you satiated & allow your blood sugar to stay stable.
3.Stop restricting / deeming sweets as off limits. The more you can allow sweets to always be an option, the less you will view them as special/ something you don’t have control over.
While these steps can help reduce cravings, that doesn’t mean they aren’t going ever happen again. We’re all human here! So how to you allow yourself sweets without overdoing it?
1.Think through your cravings. Are you craving something sweet after dinner because it’s a habit or because you ACTUALLY want it? This was a situation I found myself in not too long ago! While tracking macros can be a great thing in allowing you to ‘fit’ anything you want in your day, there’s a difference between can and should. For me, I got in the habit of plugging something sweet in at the end of every day. While there is truly nothing inherently wrong with this, I did start to notice that having a sweet after dinner was more of a mindless habit rather than a true craving. Now, I simply allow myself to have a small sweet after dinner when I REALLY want it!
2.When you do allow yourself to have something sweet: portion out a small amount, take your time to slow down / enjoy it and remind yourself it’s always an option so there’s no true NEED to have more in this moment. If you are craving something sweet on an empty stomach, try having a balanced meal first and if you still want something sweet after, this is your opportunity to just have a little bit. Like I mentioned above, when our blood sugar is low, you’re much more likely to crave carbs/sweets. That’s why I recommend a balanced meal first to give your body what it actually needs. And like I said, if you still really want that sweet thing after, go for it – it’ll just be easier to control your portion on a satisfied belly.
3.If you are REALLY fighting an urge to go back for more… think about your future self! What decision will make you the most proud and feel the best when you wake up tomorrow? Also, are you wanting something sweet to suppress an emotion? (boredom, sadness, anxiety). Remind yourself that food doesn’t solve these things. It never has and it never will. I always go through this dialogue with ANYTHING indulgent. I remind myself how much I hate the feeling of being too full / overdoing it & then make the choice that allows me to feel great & proud. If I am craving food to suppress an emotion, I think critically about what I can do instead to be proactive about diminishing that feeling. Often times, it’s simply allowing myself to FEEL IT AND GO THROUGH IT. Other times it’s journaling/writing, exercising or pampering myself. Be objective & consider what you would suggest if it were a friend going through the same thing : )
4.Lastly, incorporate sweet things in your day! Some of my favorite suggestions to incorporate often:
-greek yogurt & granola
-sweetened oatmeal (I like using honey, maple syrup or agave to sweeten my oats)
-protein powder in your morning coffee
-Level 1 bar (balanced protein bar that tastes like a candy bar!)
Because I personally incorporate the last three things in my day to day meals, I find I don’t crave sweets too often (most likely because I am eating sweet things often). Again, this doesn’t mean I don’t crave sweets at all, just not often. What I DON’T recommend doing is trying to satisfy a TRUE craving with something else. For example, if you are specifically craving a chocolate chip cookie…
Just have the damn cookie and move on! BUT if you just are craving something sweet in general, maybe try the Level 1 bar and see if it does the trick. If it doesn’t, well now you know next time to look further into that craving.
Mindful eating is TRULY a trial and error experience. It’s not linear, you’re going to ‘mess up’ / misread cravings / overdo it etc. What I urge you to do through this journey is instead of beating yourself up when things go wrong, see it as a learning / clarifying experience for the next time you’re in a similar situation. So the next time you are there you can say, ‘Okay, I know from last time what NOT to do, so this time I’m going to try a different approach and see what happens’.