Do you feel like your chocolate addiction could be profiled on an episode of A&E’s Intervention? Read on …
Tooth rotting deliciousness is everywhere, praying on our natural humanly weakness for sweets. Cave people did not have to use their willpower 50 times a day; there wasn’t a vending machine, gas station, and brownie-pushing colleague around every bush. Even if we resist the candy dish 46 times a day, that leaves four times that we curse our nonexistent self-discipline and nurse slurpees to boost our mood. Those four daily oopsies are leading to huge problems. Pun intended. I need a Twix just thinking about it.
Besides being “programmed” to like the taste of sweet things and living in a society that sets us up for failure, there are a number of other reasons humanoids are carb-o-holics. Some research suggests there’s a link between sugar intake and the production of true pleasure responses in the brain. I didn’t need research to tell me that. Habit also plays a role – if you always eat something sweet after supper, your brain will send powerful cookie-seeking messages at this time each day. And when hormones swing, sugar can actually ease the blues.
So how can you stop yourself from eating so much damn sugar? I’ve compiled a list of 27 tactics in hopes that one or more that will work for you. The first suggestion isn’t really a suggestion, it’s a must. Use the rest of the recommendations like a menu – pick what speaks to you and give it an honest go.
- For at least two weekdays and one weekend day, keep a journal or take notes on your iPhone. Or if you have a brain that’s less sieve-like than mine, simply stop, notice what’s happening, and make detailed mental notes. When did you crave? When did you cave? What time of day was it? Who were you with? What were you doing? How were you feeling? Before? After? Not until you have a good grasp of your triggers can you make different choices. For example, you might realize that you always lose control when you’re chillin’ in front of the tube so then you can decide to get your hands busy or choose to cancel your cable subscription.
- Delay. Cravings tend to pass if you wait long enough. Do something amusing, like read old texts from your Grandma.
- Distract yourself. You’ll eat less junk if you’re too busy or deeply involved in something
- Don’t skip meals. You + hunger = KitKat.
- Eat more fibre. You’ll be less hungry and physically have less room in your belly for extras.
- Eat balanced meals to ensure you get the variety of nutrients your body needs. It has been postulated (not proven yet) that lacking nutrients turns you into a craver.
- Figure out several ways to effectively manage your stress. You + stress = Oh Henry.
- Get enough sleep. Feeling tired may drive you to sugar for the boost of energy it provides. Ask your boss if you can put a hammock in your office for a short mid-afternoon siesta (let me know if this flies because I’m looking for successful case studies on which to base my argument).
- Go cold turkey. Play hard ball with yourself. Detox. Maybe you’re the person who just shouldn’t drink pop, ever.
- Get tempting foods out of your house. Do not do your grocery run when you’re hungry, tired, or frazzled, or recruit a supportive friend to Safeway with you.
- Make yourself walk to the gas station if you really need a chocolate fix. Maybe you’ll change your mind before you get there. And you’ll get exercise.
- Identify if you have any specific trigger foods. Stop eating/drinking it.
- Go French and don’t snack. At all.
- Experiment with healthy choices that might satisfy you. Minty peach tea? Watermelon? Hello!
- Be a mindful eater. Maybe you would be satisfied with one square of dark chocolate if you ate it sloooooowly?
- Set a sweets limit. What does moderation mean to you? When you meet your goal, celebrate! Not with cheesecake.
- Drink plenty of water.
- Get off your diet. Chronic dieters have more cravings.
- Ensure you have good variety in your diet. A boring diet may lead you to want to treat your tastebuds. Plus a boring diet is boring. Just sayin’.
- Create healthy traditions for you and your family. Walk together after supper instead of eating dessert.
- Brush your teeth right after meals; the minty flavour may help and you’re less likely to eat when you’ve got a fresh set of pearlies.
- Dive into books and films about health, empowerment, etc. Positive reinforcement is effective… it’s one of the reasons so many people enjoy a weekly church service.
- Combine a craving food with a healthful one. Dip a banana in chocolate pudding. Put some chocolate shavings on your yogurt. Sprinkle a few chocolate chips in your trail mix.
- Chew gum.
- If you’re going to go for it, do it well. Choose a small portion of something you truly love and appreciate every single mouthful. Think classy thoughts.
- Are you actually hungry? Stop and check.
- Tell yourself that you’re a person with control. It might be true.
If your strategies stop working, reevaluate and try something different. Now go make yourself a cup of minty peach tea, grab your notebook, and ready yourself for a radical sugar-ectomy.