3 Ways of Dealing with the Emotional Side of Sugar Cravings
Written by: Hiba Giacoletto
Perhaps you know the feeling. You have just had a big meal and are feeling stuffed when that all too familiar urge for something sweet washes over you.
What’s going on? And more importantly, how do you deal with it?
What if there were a good reason you crave what you crave? What if the cravings themselves were not the problem, but a message that your body is trying to communicate to you?
Sweet cravings almost always have a physical component, like unstable blood sugar levels or excess candida. Sugar also has a dark side, in that it is addictive – eight times as addictive as cocaine, according to Dr. Mark Hyman.
So yes, taking steps towards treating the physical cause of sugar cravings is key. But there is also often another side to what your sweet cravings are trying to tell you and taking this more emotional side into account will help you deal with the need for something sweet.
So how do you deal with the more emotional side of sweet cravings?
By intimately listening to what’s really going on.
By becoming brutally honest with yourself.
By facing the underlying cause instead of cursing the symptoms.
So if you listen really closely to those pesky sweet cravings, your body might be trying to whisper…
Darling, you need some ‘me-time’…
You’ve been working hard all day – you deserve a reward…
You need more pleasure or ‘sweetness’ in your life…
You’re exhausted, have something sweet to boost your energy…
You’re lacking vital nutrients to keep your beautiful body balanced…
Here are 3 steps to deal with the more emotional side of sugar cravings.
- Identify the needs that are asking to be met. What do you think is really going on when you need that cookie or chocolate? You could go through the list above and choose the point that speaks to you most. Alternatively, you could try identifying your needs and values with the exercise below:
In one column, write down everything that you could possibly want right now, no matter how frivolous it may seem.
I want the new iPhone
I want to learn a new language
I want to take a bubble bath
One by one, write down why each point you wrote down matters to you – what is the need behind it?
I want the new iPhone = CONNECTION
I want to learn a new language = DISCOVERY
I want to take a bubble bath = SELF CARE
Now go through the list and identity the 2-3 needs that come up most often. These words might help you recognize the needs that must be met in order to add more non-sugary sweetness to your life.
2. Take committed action towards meeting your true needs. Now that you have a better idea of your true needs, you can take the direct route to them instead of a sugary detour. For example, if SELF CARE came up, what could you realistically do to take better care of yourself? Think really really small – for example, 5 minutes of yoga or 3 minutes of meditation. You can always build up from here.
3. Keep intimately listening to what’s really going on. Next time a sweet cravings shows up, approach it with curiosity. What need is asking to be met? How can you meet it without reaching for sugar?
By listening to your cravings instead of cursing them, you will start to notice that cravings are like your body’s secret language. Learning to listen to them is a life-long practice – and one that can lead you towards a more rich and fulfilled life, where your true needs are met.
Hiba Giacoletto is a Psychologist and Health Coach, passionate about helping people create healthier habits through mindfulness, intuition and pleasure. She uses a unique blend of nutrition and psychology to help her clients lose weight, take control of cravings or simply have a healthier relationship to food - without diets or deprivation.
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