Monday, October 3, 2011

Combatting Cravings

It's 12:48pm.  Only a few more minutes left of my lunch break, and all I can think about is something sweet to eat.  This is the time of day that I crave sweets the most, just after lunch when I am feeling a little sluggish and not looking forward to plowing through the rest of the afternoon.  Normally I would indulge myself at times like this with a square or two of dark chocolate or a cup of coffee, but as I am doing the Whole Life Wellness Cleanse and have given up all processed foods for the month, I must refrain.

So how am I dealing with my intense cravings?  Well, the first thing I always do is make sure my rational mind is in control.  It is too simple to give in to cravings if you don't allow yourself the opportunity to think them through.  Ask yourself, "Why am I craving this?  Do I really need food, or am I trying to fill some other emotional need?"

If you are craving sugar or caffeine, chances are you have an addiction to those substances, and you are not alone.  Most Americans are addicted to either sugar or caffeine or both.  We consume it morning, noon and night in our coffee, cereal, soft drinks, snacks, breads, even pizza and ketchup.  Restaurant food is literally loaded with added sugar.  You may think you can give up sugar at any time (like many addicts will claim) but have you ever tried?  Craving sugar is a physical withdrawal symptom caused by not getting our "fix" of sugary snacks and drinks.  In some cases severe withdrawal symptoms can occur, such as sweating, dizziness, fatigue, headache and feeling "lost" or mentally disconnected.

I notice my sugar and caffeine cravings the most while I am cleansing, because I don't allow myself to indulge them.  It can become a battle of internal wills at times, almost like the cliche of the angel and devil on my shoulders.  In this case it is a dark chocolaty devil drinking a tall mocha, and a whole foods angel reminding me to let go of my cravings because they are an illusion caused by my addiction.

Something I always do when I start to have cravings is drink a huge glass of water.  Sometimes two.  Often times our bodies will trigger the hunger or craving mechanisms when we are in fact only thirsty or slightly dehydrated.  Drinking water can help you feel full and will improve your health immensely.  Avoid the temptation to drink "flavored" water (unless you flavor it yourself by adding ripe fruit and refrigerating) or diet drinks, which are full of additives and harmful chemical sweeteners.  Chemical sweeteners aggravate a sugar craving by confusing your body and making you crave the sweet sugar even more.  Some great natural alternatives for sugar that do not aggravate a sugar addiction are Raw Honey, Pure Maple Syrup and Stevia.

If you can't shake a craving, make a more healthful choice, rather than giving in.  When I crave sugar I usually reach for some dried fruit and nuts or some fresh fruit.  A spoonful of peanut butter on my fruit will usually do the trick for me nicely.  Make sure you are buying natural peanut butter, because most major brands add sugar! 

The craving for caffeine is usually lessened for me with herbal teas, or occasionally green tea, which does contain caffeine but in safer amounts.  A hot cup of tea in the morning makes me feel even better than that coveted coffee ever has.

If you would like to learn more about sugar and caffeine addictions, and what to do about them, read these helpful links:

As always, if you would like advice or support on your journey to wellness, please contact me.  Consultation with a Certified Wellness Coach is always free at OneWellness!

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