Question: I crave sugar and chocolate the week prior to menstruation and so does my daughter. Nothing satisfies that craving Question: I crave sugar and chocolate the week prior to menstruation and so does my daughter. Nothing satisfies that craving other than eating sugar and chocolate. What can I do to reduce the cravings?
My favourite topic to talk about: Sugar.
First off, you’re absolutely right when you say “nothing satisfies the sugar craving than eating sugar” and I’m here to tell you there’s no way to stop, control, substitute a craving (which includes engaging in “healthy behavioural modification” and health related “fear mongering”). If you missed this link in last week’s question I strongly recommend you read up on the biology of food control here
But still many people come to me with health related concerns about sugar. Having a conversation about whether sugar is “good” for you or not, whether it’s in fact possible to “avoid” it in the long run or engaging in fear mongering discussion such as comparing sugar’s effect on the body to that of cocaine is a complete waste of time…… Because any effort – regardless of the reason behind your motivation to “quit, reduce, abstain” from sugar- is a ticking time bomb for rebellious eating with sugar being the main actor.
Even if you strongly believe that sugar affects the body like cocaine, is the worst substance on this planet and is the #1 reason behind your weight gain, cellulite, love handles etc…”substitution, elimination, jumping on board a sugar quitting program” and diverting cravings usually doesn’t work long-term.
With that being said you mention that you crave sugar before you menstruate, for which it’s incredibly common for cravings involving sugar to increase during this time. Hormonal changes in the body plays a huge part in ebbs and flows of what our body wants and needs….and sadly again, trying to control our bodies biological response to food isn’t likely to play out in your favour long term.
Still, I understand why being told “eating sugar” is the answer to your sugar “addiction” is scary and feels like the last thing you’d probably go and do. But let me remind you of a few things:
1) Often many “sugar eliminators” think they have an “addiction” by pure fact that trying to control food only ends up in food controlling you. Which in other words means your obsessions for the “out of bounds food” increases, rather than decreases, by virtue of denying yourself the food….which again, is a ticking time bomb for rebellious behaviour such as binge eating, emotional eating and wanting the food every-damn-minute-of-the-day.
2) One of the biggest issues I find underneath many people’s sugar cravings is the fear of sugar itself. As long as you fear sugar and hold deep seated beliefs that sugar is “poison”or like an illegal “drug”, sugar is going to rule your life.
In my experience I’ve never found fear to be a long term motivator for successful “sugar elimination”. In fact, it has been the opposite motivator. There’s a strong body of research in regards to dieting that discusses that forced attempts at weight management (which are very often, if not always, driven by fear) will likely increase your original weight. Additionally trying to lose weight has been demonstrated to be the number one predictor of weight gain.
What I mean to drawn a parallel to here, is that regardless of what your “diet” consists of- whether it is avoiding sugar or not- you’ve got a better chance of managing your health (e.g. managing your weight, managing your cravings etc), by eating, rather than avoiding sugar.
Ironic isn’t it?
But let me tell you from personal experience and from working with many women on this topic, the best advice I can give you is to STOP going to battle with your cravings and let go (i.e. eat the sugar). Focus on developing ‘healthful’ thought patterns around food as a whole (e.g. neutralising your views on “trigger” foods) and work through what’s holding you back from eating in a way of eating that feels effortless and free (i.e. fear, body image & self worth issues).
….Something to think about this week.
PS: If anyone wants to dive a little deeper into the topic of sugar I recently discussed my journey with Maddy Moon in her podcast here. Additionally, one of my all time favourite guest blog posts on sugar can be found here. And to anyone who wants to read more on why I’m of the opinion “please don’t Quit sugar, quit shaming it instead” read more here.
And if you want to work together to sort out your ‘addiction’ see my coaching availability here and let’s get on the phone and make a plan to get this ‘sugar thing’ a thing of the past (ps: you won’t regret making contact!).