You eat a good meal. But then crave sugar almost immediately. Without meaning to, you eat some sweets. Why oh why!?!?! Let me help you get out of this.
I have a sweet tooth. Always have.
The first treat/snack I recall eating with great regularity is kalkandu aka rock candy aka sugar. I was a fussy eater and the solution devised by the adults was to put a bit of sugar in everything I ate.
Won't eat roti? Roll it up with some sugar in it. Won't eat rice? Mix in some milk and sugar. I am not blaming them at all. I loved it. And being a skinny and hyper-energetic kid, this worked for many, many years.
So this sugar craving is as much a habit and something automatic in me and not actually a craving most of the time. But it still has to be dealt with. While one should eat their favourite foods, one should also look at staying healthy, and chocolate ice-cream for breakfast does not keep me healthy.
So, here are some strategies for people like me who have a sweet tooth.
Most times, the sugar craving comes after a meal. Because you are used to dessert or because you regularly ate some candy after a meal as a kid. Reaching out for that sugary treat is just an immediate feeling you act on before your brain has even processed what's happening.
Slow down. Let your brain catch up.
I set a 10-minute timer. This is a mental timer but as I write this, I realize I should just set the timer on my phone as well. Just wait out the timer - go do something else.
Most times, what you will find is that your brain will tell you you're full and the craving will have disappeared by the time the 10 minutes are up. All because you gave yourself a little time.
There's this piece of research that I read about. This was done in an office setting with cubicles. What these food and behavioural scientists did was put a bowl of candy in 3 different places.
Place 1: Within hand's reach of where the person working in the cubicle is.
Place 2: About 1-2 feet away. It is still in the cubicle but the person has to stand and walk a step towards it.
Place 3: About 10-20 feet away. Out of the line of sight and a lot more steps to get to it.
What they found was the 3rd scenario (candy 10-20 ft away) resulted in the least amount of candy being consumed! And the first scenario led to a lot of candy consumed.
Candy that was 10 feet away was eaten far lesser than candy on the desk.
When it comes to sugar, out of sight is out of mind.
Sugar-free gum has a small amount (less than 1 gram) of sweetener, so small that you can round it down to zero. It gives your teeth and jaws a good workout (which is good) and gives you that sugar hit as well. This is a win-win!
There are many options and really good flavours available. And as someone who likes to chew gum, this method works best for me. It also works well with Strategy #1 -the 10-min wait. I chew gum during that time and the craving goes away.
If you are like me, it is not a question of if but when you will get that sugar craving. Mondays are the worst because I probably had a good treat on Sunday. You would think that means Monday is the easiest day to say no but funnily, that just makes it harder for me.
Every Monday morning I tell myself and I write it down sometimes as well - "I am not eating sugar today".
And I decide when and what I will eat - Saturday is chocolate ice-cream, an extra scoop because I've been good. Gives me something to look forward to. Most times, decision fatigue and tiring of saying No to temptations is what costs us. Get ahead of it and actively decide when you will have your treat. And move on.
Eat a square or two of dark chocolate - say something in the 70% or 80% range.
The sugar content is low, and it is rich. It will give you the hit of sugar you need with minimal damage.
Pro tip: Don't bite it. Let it stay in your mouth and dissolve. That way you'll enjoy it more and it also does at better job at satisfying your craving.
If you find that even with a good, wholesome meal that you are getting cravings, fix your sleep.
Sleep deprivation will increase your sugar cravings - this is scientifically proven. Ignore it at your own peril.
None of these strategies are fool-proof. But they are simply strategies to help buy you time and get out of that immediate reaction where you just pop it in. There's not one magical fix - it depends on the situation.
This is what we help our users with in the Daily9 coaching programme. We guide them through different strategies until they find the ones that work best for them.
Try these out and be relaxed about it. See what works for you, and when. The key thing is that you can control that craving. That craving does not own you. Knowing when you want to eat that sugar versus letting it take over is the key thing you are going for.
You are the boss of that sugar!
This article was originally published on Arvindashok.com
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