Okay… let’s face it. Sugar is as addictive, if even more addictive – than cocaine. Google it – you’ll see what I’m talking about. It’s in everything, it’s everywhere and I still find it troubling how this seductive ingredient can take its hold on me whenever it wants. And it’s so subtle too – it starts with a nibble here. A bite there and before I know it, I’m having cookies and pastries and my serotonin is being fed like a crazed lunatic while my guilt, shame and disappointment also weigh heavily on my mind. Why do I keep doing this to myself?
Last night I had to do some reflection myself. I was traveling for work (trigger #1 I’m out of my normal routine…) and stopped in for a grass fed burger, no bun and some salad. Doing great, right? The waiter came and said we have some great desserts. It was in that moment I knew I shouldn’t but I did. So why?
Here’s what I realized:
I’m craving food that I know will taste good and feed my serotonin levels. I already know the ‘walk of shame’ I’ll feel afterwards but I am going to eat it anyway. The pull of this treat I believe is coming from:
- Deficiency of some sort. Sugar blocks the absorption of essential minerals, such as calcium & magnesium which leads to more sugar cravings.
- Hormonal / Neurochemical Imbalances. Food cravings in general come from hormonal imbalances and also neurochemical imbalances as our bodies look to raise our serotonin levels.
- Low Fat Intake. Physical cravings oftentimes come from low fat intake or low blood sugar. So it’s important to make sure I’m getting my healthy fats such as nuts, olives, avocados, sprinkled in throughout the day as well as my healthy oils and grass-fed butter. Snacks are important for setting myself up for success. I didn’t pack my snacks per norm and I also realized I didn’t eat enough healthy fats!
- Emotional Factors. Am I feeling stressed, anxious, lonely, frustrated? Or is it again, just good ‘ol fashioned memories of just how damn good that dessert is and how it makes me feel when I eat it. In my case, I wasn’t feeling any of these things that I can see but I was definitely wanting to ‘feel’ the pleasure of the food and that is what has me needing to reset my imbalances.
Here’s how to cope with cravings:
- Pray. Yes – that’s right. I realized that I need to pray for Jesus to help me and to come and deliver me from this “temptation and pull” over my life right now.
- Drink Water. Make sure I’m staying hydrated all day every day. Half my body weight in ounces is needed daily.
- Exercise. Ensuring I get up to 60 minutes of movement and / or vigorous exercise also keeps the cravings at bay.
- Avoid Situations that will Trigger Me. Pretty self-explanatory here but I realize if I’m doing the things above then I can have the strength I need to refuse a food craving. If I leave the situation for 30 minutes and come back and still have the craving –then I have a small amount and throw the rest out. Or better yet, what I have found, do not BUY the foods that you are tempted to eat. Which is what I do. It’s the ‘going out’ to eat issue that I have to be mindful of before I go… So I’ll eat some healthy fats before I go and that also seems to help me! Along with a cup of coffee or espresso after dinner! It HELPS!
- 80/20 Rule. Agree with myself in advance – If I choose to give in now & then it’s fine! It’s NOT HEALTHY to be SO RIGID. Give myself a break but at the same time, don’t make it a daily thing!
- Relax & Deep Breathing. For me, this goes with the praying and just centering myself around SELF-LOVE and feeding my TEMPLE as a sign of self-respect.
- Choose Healthy Substitutes. I’ve been doing this a lot. I’m not going to restrict comfort foods but what I’ve been doing more of is making the foods I LOVE but in a Keto, Non-Dairy way. It’s helped me tremendously! It feeds my need but I know it’s nutritional and doesn’t have high sugar content. Or if worse case, I’ll eat some berries and that seems to do the trick! But again, figure out what you’re craving – sweet? salty? Crunchy? And then seek out healthy snack alternatives and keep those handy.
- Brush Teeth. Also useful is running to the bathroom to brush my teeth… as let’s be honest, having sweets after you’ve brushed your teeth is just not tasty!
Here’s how to raise Serotonin Levels ‘naturally’ to ensure you can manage the emotional pull of food cravings!
- Avoid alcohol – we don’t make good choices when we have alcohol in general … so avoiding it is a great way to maintain control.
- Avoid caffeine
- Get exercise
- Increase exposure to sun for at least 1-2 hours / day (or supplement with a good quality, veg-capsule Vit D)
- Sleep. Getting enough deep, restful sleep also helps to raise Serotonin levels naturally!
I hope these tips also help you to get in touch with the choices you make and why you may be struggling with your own cravings. As always, please reach out if you need help!