5 Reasons You Can’t Quit Sugar
Let me guess. You’ve been on keto for 5-6 months and enthusiastically thinking this is how you’ll finally wrangle your sugar cravings into submission! You’re loading up on healthy fats, avoiding grains, and ditching highly processed, high-carb foods. Yet there’s that incessant nagging. You know, the one that tells you that life is too short not to indulge in that giant Costco muffin or the more paleo-friendly version, another square (or three) of dark chocolate.
For a lot of people, including my own clients, moving toward a fat- or protein-dominant diet does the trick. You may have seen this article that Mark wrote earlier this year where he says “it takes two to three days of very-low-carb eating for the liver to start pumping out ketones” and that cravings will “decrease noticeably within three to ten days.” Research backs it up too, concluding that cravings are significantly reduced almost immediately as people get into ketosis.https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0195666312000219‘>2 Researchers looked at food cravings records of 52 women dieting to lose weight and 37 non-dieters and found that the dieters experienced significantly more food cravings, especially for sugary foods like chocolate.
2. Emotional Association
Cravings are tied to the brain’s memory center. From celebrating birthdays and holidays with sugary desserts to being rewarded with a treat for good grades, sugar has always been along for the ride. So, it’s no surprise that when you go to a party or achieve a goal, or even feel down, your sugar cravings might feel irresistible. Not to mention the fact that your hippocampus, caudate, and insula (areas of the brain activated by cravings) https://www.mobihealthnews.com/news/research-reveals-people-s-mental-health-negatively-impacted-covid-19‘>4 If you’ve been dealing with a new routine, financial uncertainty, isolation, or fear, you might be feeling like your cravings are out of control and you’re turning to sugar to cope. As I’m sure you know, sugar consumption (temporarily) increases serotonin, https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/habits-not-hacks/201408/want-change-your-habits-change-your-environment‘>6 And if you have the ritual of consciously or unconsciously seeking out a specific food in a specific situation, you’ll begin to form the expectation that it will occur every single time you’re in that situation.
5. Past Trauma
The Mark’s Daily Apple article I referenced above struck a chord with a lot of readers, with many bravely sharing that they felt their cravings were due to a lack of love and emotional bonding early in life, and therefore a lack of the hormone, oxytocin. Because of this, they began to turn to other things to make themselves feel good, including sugar. Studies not only validate our readers’ experiences, they show the impact of oxytocin on everything from metabolism to chronic illness.https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5435775/‘>8 If you haven’t had the pleasure of tapping into your own awareness, this will be a game changer for you.
3. Ask Yourself What You Need
When you’re feeling stressed, anxious, fearful, or bored, ask yourself what you really need. A few bites of the donut in your kitchen or a quick drive through the Dairy Queen will work, but in reality, you’re just avoiding those uncomfortable feelings by numbing them with food. Be open and honest with yourself about what you need on an emotional level. It could be the comfort of reading a good book, the excitement of getting outside for some exercise, or just holding space to accept where you are in the moment.
4. Create New Rituals
Your past rituals influence your current behaviors, so why not spend some time creating new, healthier rituals? If the sound of dinner dishes being put away sends you running for dessert, think about other post-dinner rituals you could do. Maybe it’s a family walk around the neighborhood or taking a long, relaxing bath. By interrupting your patterns (when dinner ends I look for dessert) you’re able to develop new patterns that work toward your goals, instead of against them.
3. Do More Feel-Good Activities
If you lacked a sense of joy and connection growing up, it’s possible to increase oxytocinhttps://www.helpguide.org/articles/ptsd-trauma/coping-with-emotional-and-psychological-trauma.htm‘>10 and help you move forward safely.
Do any of these reasons or strategies ring true for you? Anything you’d add? Tell me about your experience with emotions and overcoming sugar cravings in the comments.
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