I love chocolate, most specifically chocolate lava cake- you know, the cake where you cut into it and warm gooey chocolate oozes out from the center? If I’m going to splurge on dessert, something of that sort is almost always what I’ll go for.
When I talk with my clients about their favorite sweets, they usually reveal that they have an ALL or NOTHING relationship with them. That they must not have ANY or else it will trigger a downward spiral into constant sweet eating and cravings and they may never want to eat anything “healthy” again.
Does this sound like you? C’mon, it’s ok to admit– in all honesty, I feel that way when I’m around Trader Joe’s dark chocolate covered pretzels.
The bottom line is that yes, sugar is very addicting for the body– our brains process sugar like drugs. There is a physiological basis for craving sugar. It literally triggers the pleasure centers in our brain to want more. Strike one against us.
However, there are lots of other reasons that we crave sweets and feel like they trigger that out-of-control feeling.
A big part of our craving and subsequent binging on sweets has to do with the story that we tell ourselves about it. By declaring that we can’t be trusted around them, it creates the EXPECTATION that we are going to do just that. We are setting ourselves up for failure, and even giving ourselves PERMISSION to just go for it because that’s just our pattern, right?
In reality, your cravings are not your enemy. They are not there to sabotage you. They are your body’s genius way of getting itself back into balance, which is why your body will tell you to keep eating until the craving has been “satisfied.” Therefore, if you want chocolate and you eat some watered down version or you never let yourself have what you really want, you will have to keep eating and eating…and eating…to get the same satisfaction as if you had one straight for the real deal. So how do you stop that cycle of totally falling off the wagon around sweets?
You must have strategies you can use when the cravings strike…
Here are 3 simple strategies for handling your sweet cravings when they appear:
1. Take a deep breath and try to just notice the craving– see if you can sit with it until it passes. What I call “riding the wave” of the craving. Get up from your desk, have some water, move around. Often if we can hold out until our situation changes, the craving will also change.
2. Substitute something healthier in its place. Try fresh or dried fruit, or if you’re at home try my personal favorite: mochi- a brown rice product that comes in squares. You cut it into small pieces and bake it in the oven till it puffs up. Add some whole fruit jam or peanut butter in the warm gooey center. Yum!
3. Have what you want! This doesn’t mean just being at the whim of every craving. This means that you give yourself true PERMISSION to have what you are craving (no guilt!) and then you savor it, enjoy it, eat it slowly, chew it well. Then don’t dwell on it. LET IT GO.
Do you have a favorite strategy for handling your sweet cravings? Post it in the comments below!