A client once asked me: “Do you have a magic pill to stop me from eating sweets after dinner?” She giggled as she said it, but from the piercing, inquisitive look in her eyes, I knew she was serious. Since I know she’s not the only one wondering the same thing, I want to share my personal experience about sugar cravings so you can have some faith in the process moving forward on your own and so you don’t have to invest in any ‘magic pills’.
When I had migraines, I craved ice cream – big time. Besides getting a bit of eczema, a sugar craving became one of the clues that this excruciating 3-day headache was about to hit. But by the time I’d finished 6 weeks of clean eating, I was craving skim milk, physical proof that my insides had dramatically improved, backed up by the shocking realization that my migraines were gone.
My suggestions below do not incorporate the science behind addictions and cravings, nor do I address that cravings can be caused by mineral deficiencies, a monotonous diet, or hormonal imbalance. Instead, they include the steps I took to overcome cravings and the advice I give my clients, most of whom have struggled with cravings at some point. If you’re continuing to struggle, you can always contact us for additional coaching.
Before we start, you already know that living a healthy lifestyle means you need to be prepared. It’s no different with cravings. This means you need to remove all unhealthy options from your home and be sure you have healthy alternatives in your fridge. Why buy a box of chocolates or chips if you know it’s going to torment you and make you feel worse if you eat it? It will take 3 seconds to pass them in the aisle. Take a deep breath, remind yourself how you DON’T want to feel, and keep moving!
Now, when the craving comes on, here’s what you do:
- Ask yourself honestly: Am I hungry or is this a craving? If you’re legitimately hungry, eat a healthy, balanced meal of protein, fat and carb. Ya, I know, chicken and veggies and rice doesn’t sound as awesome as an ice cream sundae, but our goal here is to help balance your blood sugar, not throw it even more out of whack!
- If you’re not hungry or the healthy meal didn’t work, or this is a craving that you need to get out of your head, then get busy! Drink a glass of water, go for a walk, do some squats or push ups or planks, get out of the house, go do a workout, read a book, organize your day for tomorrow, set a new goal and write down how you’re going to get there, have a bath, journal about the progress you’ve made and what you’ve learned, do some work, meditate, have a nap, go do something that inspires you, or read about how sugar immobilizes your immune system 😉 Just do something – ANYTHING – that is good for you or at least better for you than eating that sugar!
- Think about how you want to feel tomorrow. Do you want to feel heavy, bloated and lethargic? Do you want to paralyze your immune system? Do you want to play the mind game feeling like the craving got the better of you? No, you don’t. You could also think about the symptoms that brought you into this program to begin with – headaches, fatigue, PMS, weight gain, etc – and how you eating more sugar is likely going to keep you from feeling better. This is what worked for me. The thought of getting another migraine was (and still is) enough motivation for me to not eat sugar (because I knew that sugar made my migraines worse).
- Trust. This is a big deal, I know. But at some point, you’ve got to trust that there is a connection between what you put inside your body, what you do to your body, and the results you’re getting on the outside. Firstly, there is science behind it. But secondly, there are way too many success stories (mine included) of people who have successfully improved their health by improving their diets. And if that’s not enough believe Hippocrates, the “Father of Modern Medicine”, who lived from 460-370 BC and said “Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food.” This natural eating thing isn’t a new concept!
- After the craving has passed (it could take minutes or hours), take note of how you feel – both emotionally and physically (this is an important part of the process). Give yourself credit and know that for every single craving you conquer, your body is getting stronger by establishing more balance. And this means cravings are likely to diminish as time goes on.
Now, is it realistic for you to do this every single time you have a craving? No! And that’s why I created The Cheat Principle. But I hope you give this a shot. Follow the steps above for at least 7 days but ideally for 3 weeks minimum. After a period of time (which will differ for everyone), you’ll find that the feeling of waking up healthy, energetic, clear-headed, and happy is much more addictive than the sugar itself. And once that happens, there is no stopping you!