Have you ever hit that afternoon lull and found yourself reaching for a sugary sweet pick-me-up to boost your mood, feel better and get through the rest of your day?
Or have you ever come home after a stressful day and gone straight for that pint of your favorite ice cream, or candy?
Do you find yourself unable to function without your power-packed sugar and caffeine combo to start your day?
If you said yes to any of these questions, chances are that sugar plays a bigger role in your life than you might realize.
But don’t worry, you’re not the only one!
The truth is sugar is everywhere…
Not just in obvious foods like desserts or soda, but also in our favorite condiments like ketchup and bbq sauce, or even “healthy” options like fruit juice and smoothies. It’s even hiding in toothpaste!
While the concept of sugar addiction might seem silly/overblown, when people choose to cut down on sugar and embrace a healthier lifestyle, they come face-to-face with just how addictive sugar actually is!
Why is Sugar So Addictive?
Intellectually, we know that sugar is void of nutrients, causes inflammation, and usually ends in a complete crash. Yet, we overlook all its negative qualities for essentially one reason: It tastes amazing, gives us a rush, and makes us feel good… for a little while at least!
When we eat sugar, our mesolimbic dopamine system — a.k.a., our brain’s “reward system” — gets activated. Dopamine is the “feel-good” chemical in our brain, and it plays a huge role in how we experience pleasure. When you consume sugar, this reward system is activated, and your brain starts looking for a way to reproduce the effect which manifests as cravings.
Some experts are saying that sugar is even more addictive than hard core drugs, as it’s the same part of the brain that is activated.
When we choose to embrace a healthier lifestyle, we’ll often start out strong — throwing away all the candy, and junk food in the house, exercising regularly, and even completely eliminating refined sugar from our diets.
But soon enough, we start to fall back into old patterns, usually as a result of stress or other emotional triggers. Then, after a time enmeshed in old habits, we reestablish our resolve to make healthier choices … and the cycle continues.
The key to breaking this cycle and overcoming sugar addiction lies in shifting your mindset and connecting with your inner wisdom to make mindful, nurturing choices from a place of self-love, encouragement and understanding — all of the things I help women around the world to do in my Vibrant Healthy Woman™ Program.
Below I’ll share the 4 simple yet highly effective steps to help you overcome sugar addiction, and create the mind, body and spirit connection that will allow you to step into your power as your healthiest, most radiant self!
1.Shift Your Mindset Through Conscious Decisions
One of the biggest hurdles to overcome when you begin embracing a healthier lifestyle is breaking the habit of making unconscious decisions when it comes to eating. Think about the times when you reach for a sweet, or any junk food for that matter, as a response to cravings or even just boredom. These are unconscious decisions that occur when we are fulfilling our deeper needs and craving unconsciously, and we aren’t in tune with what our body is really asking for on a nutritional level.
To help yourself make mindful decisions, there are 6 Conscious Questions you can ask yourself when a sugar craving hits (or whenever you feel you might be making unconscious eating decisions).
Why am I Eating?
When you catch yourself craving a sugary treat or snack, stop and ask yourself why. Is it a craving? Are you bored? Is it a response to an emotional trigger?
First, ask yourself, “Am I making an empowered choice?” Then, step away from the unconscious decision by reminding yourself that you are choosing to nourish and fuel your body — and only when you feel truly “body hungry.”
When am I Eating?
Sugar cravings tend to pop up during the times in between meals, or while our mind is engaged with something else, such as watching a movie or socializing. Try to stick with an eating schedule structured around when you experience true body hunger, and give your body plenty of time to digest between meals.
Where am I Eating?
Where you’re eating is just as important as when you’re eating. Are you reaching for a piece of candy in your car? Do you have a drawer of your favorite sweets in your office? Enjoying a midnight snack in bed? Try to create eating habits that revolve around sitting down at a proper table. If you’re outdoors in nature, put down your electronic devices and tune into the beautiful, calming environment instead.
What am I Eating?
When you embark on a healthier lifestyle, you’re making the decision to provide your body with nourishing food filled with life, and proper nutrients. Consider the treat you’re craving: Is it highly processed? Will it provide any type of nourishment? If not, try reaching for a healthier substitute. (To help you, I’ve listed some of my favorite healthy swaps down below!)
How much am I Eating?
When you decide to indulge in the occasional treat (because you absolutely should), keep in mind the ideal portion size and try to stick to it. That might mean having just one or two of the miniature version of your favorite candy bar, or taking the time to measure out a small portion of ice cream. Doing so will allow you to fully enjoy your treat without overindulging.
Who am I Eating with?
I’m not talking about having dinner with your partner or your girlfriends. This is all about you and your relationship with your body. When you sit down to eat, say to yourself: “I choose to be a loving friend to myself and think kind and loving thoughts about myself and my body.”
By asking yourself these questions before picking up that candy bar, favorite soda, or gooey treat, you can make empowered decisions in alignment with your highest and healthiest self, versus your stressed out, starved and overworked persona.
2. Break the Cycle of Guilt
Growing up, I didn’t learn an empowering way to be around food — to enjoy and really savor it.
I looked at food as a source of sacrifice and control for my body as a professional dancer, rather than something to be enjoyed. Whenever I did indulge in a “cheat” food, the experience was typically overshadowed by this sense of guilt I felt for eating something “unhealthy.”
It wasn’t until I met my husband that the concept of taking pleasure in food really sunk in. Unlike me, my husband didn’t have any limiting paradigms about food or eating. He loves food, and he doesn’t overeat or undereat — he’s always simply listened to his body.
When he eats a treat, he fully allows himself to savor, and enjoy it with absolute pleasure. At first, it was almost irritating, but it showed me what really savoring and tasting something could be in its most optimal and pleasurable state!
Whenever you make the conscious and empowered choice to indulge in a treat, I encourage you to tell the guilt to take a hike and allow yourself to embrace the pleasure of the experience. Eat slowly, taste every morsel, and savor each bite.
3.Love Yourself When You “Slip Up”
Living a healthier lifestyle isn’t something you decide to do once and you’re set. It’s a hundred different choices that you’ll have the opportunity to consciously make every day. And you know what? Some days, it’s going to be just a little too hard — and that’s okay.
In those moments of high stress and overwhelm, you might go for the chocolate, ice cream, or candy. But you’ll realize that you’ve made the unconscious decision to eat all the sugar, and then you’ll think, “Now what?”
This is the moment when I want you to take a step back, and remind yourself that no matter where you are along that journey of eating the sugar, you can make an empowering choice.
After you realize that you ate sugar unconsciously, instead of beating yourself up about the “slip” … make the conscious decision to disconnect from any feeling of shame, and choose to bless it with golden light and love.
Take a step back and recognize that maybe you chose sugar because you really overworked that day and you just wanted to decompress and have something fun. Tell yourself:
“Maybe there were other fun things I could have done that are more empowering than the treat, but I went for the sugar. And it’s okay — I am choosing to forgive and love myself.”
When you’re aware of your cravings and want to make a conscious choice for a healthier alternative, come back to this handy list of my favorite healthy swaps:
- Instead of candy … try some fresh fruit, yummy chai, or vanilla bean tea with stevia, monk fruit or coconut sugar sweetener.
- Instead of cookies … try an organic brown rice cake with a little organic almond butter and sprinkle with a few mini chocolate chips
- Instead of soda … try mineral water with vanilla or another natural flavoring or stevia, or a splash of fresh squeezed juice, or lemons, or a few frozen berries.
- Instead of sugary coffee … try organic half-caff with a splash of organic coconut milk, almond milk, or cashew milk, or Bulletproof Coffee for an extra boost of energy!
- Instead of sweet tea … try fruit-essence-infused green or herbal tea.
- Instead of sugar-heavy condiments like ketchup, BBQ, or teriyaki … try soy sauce, sriracha, organic salsa, curry and all dried spices.
4. Indulge Every Now and Then
Embracing a healthy lifestyle doesn’t have to mean giving up treats completely. In fact, it shouldn’t. Thoughts like, “I can’t have that,” or “I shouldn’t,” or “I’ll feel bad if I eat this,” come from a negative place and are accompanied by low-vibration feelings such as guilt, shame, or anxiety.
If you’ve made the empowered, conscious decision to have a treat … then let yourself really have it, enjoy it, and savor it. Then bless your indulgence with golden light and love, and move forward.
Remember that your decision to embark on your journey of healthy living should come from your desire to love and treat your body the way it deserves — with love, nourishment and appreciation.
If you’ve tried in the past to elevate your health and wellness, but struggled with falling back into critical or unconstructive patterns … transformational life coaching can be the powerful tool to launch your journey of self-love, self-confidence and vibrant health, inside and out.
My Powerful Vibrant Healthy Woman™ Coaching Program has helped women worldwide release unwanted weight and unleash their true authentic confidence, aliveness and radiance, so that they can shine their light and make the difference they are here to make in the world.
If you’re ready to repattern limiting belief systems, deeply align with your inner wisdom and innate feminine intelligence, and allow your authentic beauty, gifts and cofidence to shine, discover how Vibrant Healthy Woman™ can help you step forth as the vibrant, joyful woman you truly are!
Now I’d love to hear from you! Got a got-to healthy alternative for when sugar cravings hit? Let our amazing community know in a comment below!