I have a major sweet tooth. Anyone around me can attest to that. The weird thing is that my daughter doesn't really like sweets. Perhaps it shouldn't be a surprise given the fact that I ate cake every day during the last 5 months of my pregnancy. The point here is that I LOVE cake... and sweets... and maybe I love them a little too much. It's the kinda love that has me dreaming about vacations together on an island in the sun. (Sorry family it's just me and the cake this time.)
So there are moments (a lot of moments) that I'm jealous of my daughter. I wish I didn't like sweets. There are many days when it feels like an addiction. In fact, research shows that sugar activates some of the same parts of the brain as heroin does. Heroin! So it's no wonder that when I get that hint of refined white sugar the gates open. Then I spend the next few days (sometimes weeks) trying to kill that craving.
We all get it I'm sure...maybe with different foods. Sometimes cravings are healthy and serve to tell us what our body needs. In the case of these sweets... well we just don't need them.
Here are a few tools that I found to help me get over the call of the sugar:
An Infrared Sauna uses infrared heaters to emit infrared radiant heat which is absorbed directly into the human body, unlike traditional saunas which heat the body indirectly via air or steam. Since saunas increase perspiration, they are able to liberate "toxins." For those of you in the Seattle/Tacoma area Eco Chic Salon & Spa is a great place to enjoy this type of sauna. When I was first diagnosed this really helped. I went about once a week for the first month and would encourage anyone I know to give it a try. It is by no means an instant fix, but it helped.
If I get plenty of sleep the cravings aren't as intense. However, I'm not good about getting enough sleep...not at all. On average I get about 6-7 hours. By no means is it reason to see a doctor, but I'm being honest in that I know it helps. Sometimes, something as simple as a quick nap can keep me from being waist deep in homemade marshmallows.
This goes back to that whole "your body will tell you what it needs" philosophy. If I'm not getting enough potassium, my body should give me that you need a banana craving. Vitamin B has been particularly helpful, but I am also deficient on several B vitamins. When I stay current on my vitamins (and I take a lot of them) cravings aren't deafening.
As a hypoglycemic it is important to eat every few hours. Skipping snacks causes blood sugar levels to dip which signals a craving that you need sugar. Each snack should contain a whole grain and a protein. This takes planning and it is important to keep emergency snacks on hand for when you might forget to pack something.
Sometimes cravings are very specific. For example a few weeks ago I wanted pumpkin raisin cookies. I wanted them sooooo badly. Luckily I knew I could tweak it into a healthier version. Which I did, and it was exactly what I needed. If it's something you can't shake, and it has been around for days, try to reinvent it.
This is my final line of defense. At this point I have the plate of cake in hand. It is nearly the point of defeat. However, if I can reach for a glass of water (or sometimes 2) I might be able to put it down and walk away. For me the odds are 50/50. That's not a great percent, but in all those cases where I still had the sweet, I ate much less of it. Give it a try sometime... it really does help.
Fighting the War on Sugar isn't easy
It's about finding what weapons work for you. It's about understanding your triggers and learning to avoid them. But more than anything it is about taking care of your body. You can read more about other options in fighting the war on sugar here.
What tools do you use to avoid sugar?