Food cravings can often simply mean you're hungry or thirsty, but if you are finding yourself craving sweets consistently throughout the day, it may be time to examine why and determine the root cause.
Where do cravings come from? S.A.D. is an acronym for the Standard American Diet, which typically consists of high calorie and low nutrition, which leaves us fatigued and unsatisfied. This makes it really easy for us to reach for sugar and other stimulants to upkeep our energy. An unbalanced diet can cause hormonal and blood sugar imbalance, leading to cravings. The culprit that we also most often overlook is sleep. After sleep deprivation, the pleasure-seeking centers of the brain are activated, which increases cravings for stimulating and sugary food options.
Is Sugar Addictive?
Studies have shown sugar stimulates the same part of the brain as cocaine and heroin and sugar-substitutes are four times more addictive than cocaine. If you experience withdrawal symptoms like headache, moodiness, and irritability when you don’t have your usual sugar dose, you may be chemically addicted.
If it’s too difficult to kick the dessert habit, it’s not your fault. The food industry designs processed foods to be chemically addictive. They refer to it as the "bliss point." It is manufactured to create addiction.
A recent study done by Ahmed’s in France showed that intense sweetness – not just refined sugar, but also artificial sweeteners – surpasses cocaine as a reward in laboratory animals.
One of the most addictive substances is high fructose corn syrup. High fructose corn syrup may be worse of a culprit than white sugar because it is known to contain double the sweetness as sugar and considered twice as addictive.
Consider these mindset shifts:
It is very important to determine if you are actually hungry before you eat.
Check in and ask yourself: Can I eat a cup of broccoli or an apple right now? If you can, then you are most likely “physically hungry”. If the answer is no, you may be wanting to eat your craving out of boredom or discomfort. Many times, what you really may need is a walk, a hug, or a nap. Teas, baths, and hot showers are also very comforting. Most of us have been conditioned since childhood to use food as a reward. We were told that if we were "good", we can eat cookies or cake later. Therefore, we grow up as adults believing that we are “treating” ourselves with junk food. Instead, let’s reconsider what it means to “treat” ourselves. Is filling your body and mind with chemically addictive substances that could potentially lead to long-term health issues complications down the line really “treating” yourself?
Isn’t a delicious, fulfilling and nutritionally dense meal what the body really deserves?
What can I actually eat?
Natural sweeteners such as raw honey, maple syrup, organic stevia, and organic coconut palm sugar are healthier options and can be used in foods and drinks. They are not known to cause the chemical addiction that white sugars and HFCS do.
Healthy fats such as avocados, nuts, hemp, chair, and flax seeds are powerful in helping the body stay balanced, decrease inflammation, and ward off fatigue.
Be sure to eat clean protein every meal to decrease your blood sugar from spiking and stick to dense carbs like brown rice, quinoa, oatmeal, and teff.
Greens. Greens. Greens. I can not stress this enough. Leafy greens contain antioxidant, phytonutrients, and tons of vitamins and minerals to support your body to give you clean energy so you are not relying on sugar and caffeine for energy.
Tips that are often overlooked
1. Sleep 7-8 hours. Sleep is essential when cleansing your body of toxins. Out bodies need rest to purify.
2. Drink 9-10 cups of water. Water keeps the bowels moving regularly as well as gently pushing out the toxins during the sugar cleanse.
Food cravings can indicate a need for comfort, because you may not be feeling emotionally supported. It can also indicate a need for comfort in a physical form, like a hug. What you may really need is excitement, love, or acceptance.
Remember, enjoy clean food with lots of love and sweetness. Be kind and gentle to your mind, body, and spirit. That’s what you truly deserve!