www.bingeeatingbreakthrough.com Questions 5 For the Person That Thinks They May Be Addicted to Sugar
1. Is this something that happens regularly?
Do you notice that the tendency to yearn for the food you’re craving happens on a regular basis? For example, do you often feel cravings at night? Or in the late afternoons at work? Or after you’ve eaten a snack of fruit or a breakfast of cereal? Or is it more like only once in awhile, like if you’re out with friends at a restaurant and everyone’s ordering dessert? If you notice a “rhythm” to your cravings happening on a regular basis (i.e. same time of day or after eating a certain kind of food), this is a good sign that there’s something your body, emotions, mind or spirit is needing. The need, or lack of something, is resulting in a craving for something sweet, a comfort food or a treat. For example, maybe you need more sleep or down-time. You’re tired, and your brain looks for quick fuel when it’s tired. Maybe you need more creativity in your life, or a new challenge at work. You may be bored, and the sweet food creates something to look forward to. Maybe you haven’t had time to yourself for awhile. You want to treat yourself, and the food works as a way to do that. Maybe you need more healthy fat in your diet. Eating fruit or common breakfast cereals (generally all carbs) is a quick way to give your body sugar because it’s a food that your body processes quickly. It can spike insulin and have you looking for something else to eat soon after. Replacing these carbohydrate-filled snacks or meals with some healthy fats (i.e. eggs + slices of avocado, or a handful of nuts + seeds or a bowl of veggies with olive oil and pesto) can be much more satisfying and kill the craving for more sweets.
2. Do I feel bad afterward?
If you “cave in” and eat a food that you feel bad about afterward, this is a good sign that you’re eating due to something else besides physical hunger. You’re eating is more driven by emotions. That’s fine, nothing to feel shame or frustration about…just something to recognize. Once you know what’s driving your impulse, then you can figure out how to handle it differently so that you feel good as a result, not guilty. If you’re eating as a result of something besides hunger, consider if there’s something else you need more: sleep, excitement, creative expression, solo time, friend time, etc. (See point #1.)
3. Am I embarrassed to eat this in front of other people?
Wanting to “hide” or eat alone is a big indicator that you’re eating purely from emotions (see point #2), with shame driving the ship . Again, this isn’t something to beat yourself up about. It’s something to become aware of. Being able to notice your behaviors and habits is a GIGANTIC leap of progress towards finding freedom with food. If you feel like you want to “sneak” and eat another handful of chips, a chocolate bar, a bowl of ice cream, etc., take note. You’re hungering for something, but it’s not food. The food is an easy substitute, a “quick fix” in the moment. It can be really difficult to overcome the desire to default to the “quick fix” because it can become a habit.
4. Am I getting the right nutrients?
Sometimes the craving for sugar (or refined carbs, which are essentially sugar) is the body’s way of indicating it needs something. It’s showing up as a craving for sugar or carbs, which is the body’s way of getting a quick hit of energy. Do you have enough fat in your diet? (See point #1.) If you tend to eat a low fat diet (e.g. fat free yogurt, fat free milk, salads with non-fat dressing, chicken breasts, etc.), your brain and body may be hankering for fat. Fat isn’t the evil adversary we’ve been taught to believe it was for decades. Our brains actually need fat to function optimally. Or perhaps it’s something else. For instance, dairy products can be addictive as well, due to the casein protein in them. Or you may be missing a certain mineral in your diet. Everyone’s body is completely unique due to our genes, age, environment, fitness levels, stress levels and many other factors. Plus, our bodies change over time. So what you may not have needed a couple years ago you may be lacking now.
5. Do I find it really hard to resist (like almost impossible)?
If you have cravings and can’t seem to let them go, even when you know it will lead to feeling guilty or bad after “caving in”, it’s something to note. It’s natural if it happens once in awhile (like at a dinner with friends, when everyone is eating dessert and it’s hard to resist). But if you notice it regularly, it’s a good sign that your brain has probably formed a habit. If this is the case, looking at how habits form and how you can create new habits can resolve the tension around your cravings. Charles Duhigg has studied this extensively and has a great book about it, The Power Of Habit. Answering these 5 questions can give you insight into your sugar cravings, whether or not you think you’re a “sugar addict” or not. Feeling disempowered around food, whether sugar or whatever, eats away at your esteem (pun intended). Gaining awareness is the first big leap into being able to find a solution.