Sugar Cravings: Why You Have Them & How to Overcome Them

We hope you enjoyed your Christmas Eve and Christmas Day with special friends and family, lots of yummy treats and plenty of gifts and love to go around!

Hopefully you got to enjoy some special Christmas cookies too…decorated sugar cookies, fun gingerbread men or special Italian Christmas cookies?!🍪  Enjoying them this past week is very much worth it…indulging on special occasions is LIFE!  That one or two days won’t offset our hard work and progress from the past year.  But, if that indulgent routine carries beyond that special occasion, we can be pushing our limits.

Unfortunately, just when it’s time to get back to your healthy routine, your sugar cravings are probably higher than they ever are!🍦

Why is this?

🍭When you eat sugar, there is an interesting reaction that occurs in your body.  Not only does your metabolism kick in to digest the cookie you just consumed, but your brain kicks into gear too.  Your brain has an area that is responsible for pleasure, the nucleus accumbens. When you eat sugar, this area gets a dopamine signal which causes that pleasure feeling!  This area is also responsible for addiction because this pleasure-feeling can get dimmed down with stimulation, so it requires even more consumption than the last time to get that dopamine hit!  Sugars also assist in serotonin production, the happy-hormone, so after consuming something sugary we get that happy kick right away!

So, after 2 days (or maybe a whole week), of enjoying cookies and special moments with your family, this pleasure-center is telling your brain and body that it is needing a dopamine and serotonin punch!

Especially since Emotions play a role in these cravings too.

So while our body at a physiological level is making us crave more sugar, our mindset and emotions aren’t helping the situation either!  We have been trained throughout life to associate sugary foods with happiness, so we find comfort when eating those foods.

Plus, our deep survival skills are kicking in too!

On top of all the above, our bodies are still functioning in caveman times.  Long ago, our ancestors had to prepare for a cold, long winter with fewer resources around.  So they needed lots of energy to support their activity of searching for firewood and food, and sugary foods were the best, quickest sources to fuel these activities! The body doesn’t realize we are picking up curbside groceries today…it still tells us we are in SURVIVAL MODE and must get sugars..NOW! 😣

How do we overcome these cravings??

The good news is you can combat these craving alerts from your brain and body.

Trigger serotonin and dopamine from other areas: start kicking your reliance on sugars for that happiness-hit by finding other ways to trigger those feelings.  Spending time with special company, going for a walk outside, hitting a fun workout are all positive ways to naturally boost those hormones.

Force your healthy habits: while “force” sounds aggressive, it is going to be challenging to combat your very own brain and ancient survival alerts, so even when you don’t want to, eat your regular breakfast, eat vegetables and every meal, stay prepared for your healthy lunch and dinner.  Not only will consuming these meals help fill you up and make it easier to say no to more cookies, it will also help you feel much better overall!

Be nice to you: ultimately, if we are feeling negative towards ourselves and making ourselves feel guilty about everything that goes into our bodies, we will never be able to balance those happy-hormones on our own.  Be kind to yourself, be patient, and enjoy those cookies when it is warranted then make healthy decisions at your next opportunity.