We all love a good piece of chocolate or cake, but we all know that these sugary snacks should be kept to a minimum. There is a reason why it is hard to eat healthy all the time; foods that are bad for us taste good. When we have a craving for a specific food item (very commonly a sugar craving), it is not food specifically that we are craving. When a craving creeps up on you, it's your brain seeking out 'reward'. There are sugary snacks all around us, but there are ways to combat the cravings.
Craving vs. Hunger
The difference between feeling hungry in your stomach and the feeling of a craving are entirely different. It is possible to feel both at the same time, but they are independent of one another. When our stomach has used up all the energy provided, our sugar and insulin levels decrease. This causes a more survivalist chemical reaction; letting our bodies know it is time to consume more food.
When we eat foods that are high in fat and/or sugar, our body produces chemicals which bind receptors in the brain. This reaction stimulates our dopamine reward system. Dopamine regulates our reward and pleasure system. A sugar craving is pretty much a means to the reward system.
Also, our sensory memory associates certain stimulus with our reward system. For example, we remember chocolate producing an overall good feeling. You may not be conscious of this, but it is occurring before you have time to think about it. Just because we are wired for this to occur; do not worry. There are ways to beat the cravings.
Why You Should Avoid Excessive Amounts Of Sugar
- Contains no nutritional value
- Harsh on your dental health
- Large amounts are turned into fat within your liver
- Increased risk of diabetes
- It is addictive
- Contributes to obesity
- Risk of heart disease
What You Can Do to Fight The Cravings
When a sugar craving hits you at work, try some of these ideas:
- Pack some healthy trail mix. Combine healthy pieces of dried fruit, nuts and seeds with a few dark chocolate chips. This will curve your craving and allow you to consume some nutrient-rich items as well. If you are going to opt for the chocolate chips; only pack a few and consume dark chocolate only.
- If you are able to, take a short walk around. If you are in an office, it's hard to get outside. Just stretch your legs, walk around a bit and try to re-focus.
- Bring some cut up fruit or berries. Reach for a blueberry or an orange slice when the cravings begin to hit.
- Do not tempt yourself at the vending machine. This is the whole point behind bringing snacks. Snack on your healthier food options and you will not need to go to the vending machine.
- Eat breakfast. The worst thing you can do is be hungry and have sugar cravings. Your willpower to fight cravings will weaken, the hungrier you get. To battle this, begin your day with a hearty breakfast. If you are in a hurry, bring some granola and fruit for your commute. This will battle your hunger, fighting your chances of giving into a craving.
- If you can, just simply ignore it. If you are someone who consumes sugary snacks every day, this will be difficult at first. If you stop eating these items, your cravings will minimize after a couple days.
- Keep a re-useable water bottle on your desk. If you get a craving sip some water. It is important for you to keep hydrated regardless.
The more of these you put into practice, the easier each day will get. By limiting your sugar consumption, your body will be running at a more optimal level. You may even begin to notice that your jeans are fitting better. Focus on healthy snacks, be persistent and keep that willpower strong. If you do so, your sugar cravings will no longer interrupt your work day.
What have been some of your experiences with sugar cravings? How have you attempted to control these cravings? Comment below!
Photo credit: https://www.flickr.com/photos/kevinkrejci/4125849450