I love following a Paleo lifestyle.
I love eating whole foods.
I choose to walk my talk as a holistic health counselor not to prove a point, but because I’ve honestly made the connection between the food I eat and how I feel and function.
Eating whole foods helps me feel vibrant, energetic and alive.
The majority of the time, I follow a Paleo lifestyle about 95% of the time. (60% of the time, it works every time?)
It’s second nature.
During this time, I don’t long for non-paleo foods.
I barely even think about them.
Eating whole foods and avoiding processed sugars helps basically gets rid of my sugar cravings.
But I’m human.
There are times when I slip into a “sugar spell” where I start eating it and I just can’t stop.
This could mean making some Paleo Cookie Dough Truffles on a whim and eating the whole batch, which leads to eating lots of dark chocolate and almond butter over the course of a week, which leads to ice cream on the weekends…you get the picture.
Aside from the availability of sugar, I’m not sure exactly what causes these “sugar spells.”
They’re seemingly random.
And hard to break out of.
I can be caught in a “sugar spell” for days. Or weeks.
The health counselor in me knows that these sugar cravings are actually not random.
Cravings are a sign that your body is asking for something.
Cravings are an indication that there’s an imbalance in your body or in your life.
Your body craves sugar to maintain balance.
Cravings are NOT a sign of weakness. They have nothing to do with you as a person.
You’re not a bad person if you crave sugar…just so you know.
Even those of us who follow a Paleo Lifestyle pretty closely can fall under that “sugar spell.”
The draw to sugar is much stronger than the anticipation of the sweet taste.
It’s psychological. Your brain reacts to sugar in the same way it reacts to opioid drugs.
It’s physical. Your body clears the sugar out of your system and leaves you wanting more sugar to reestablish balance.
So, what do you do when it happens?
When you start to crave sugar and just can’t seem to shake the craving without vowing to give up sugar forever?
Without forcing yourself to give up sugar?
Here are my five favorite tips for lovingly breaking out of your sugar spell:
Acknowledge that you’re stuck in a sugar spell.
Awareness is the first step toward making any kind of lasting change. You have to acknowledge your constant sugar cravings before you can begin to soften them. Instead of ignoring the fact that you’re craving sugar, acknowledge that you are stuck in a sugar spell.
Reassure yourself that it’s okay to feel stuck.
Really: it’s okay. Life is a journey. You are always moving forward no matter how stuck you feel. Being stuck isn’t necessarily a bad thing—it’s an indication that something needs to change.
Tune in to your inner body cues.
Feeling stuck in the sugar spell is a two-fold indication that something’s going on with you—that you need to listen to your body. Next time you find yourself craving sugar, ask yourself what it is that you need. Do you need something food or non-food? Do you feel like you need more energy? Do you need comforting? Can you satisfy this craving with something non-food? Like a nap? Or a chat with a friend? Or will this craving only be satisfied by something sweet?
Lovingly indulge your cravings with your favorite real food sweets.**
I’m the kind of person that will continue to think about the food I’m craving until I’ve eaten it. If I go too long craving something, I will inevitably go overboard—like an entire pint of Ben and Jerry’s instead of a bowl full. It’s okay to indulge your cravings. Let me say that again: it’s okay to indulge your cravings. If you feel like only something sweet will satisfy your craving, make the conscious choice to eat a real food sweet. Have some super dark chocolate with a little bit of nut butter or fruit. Remember that everything is a choice.
Release the guilt associated with your sugar spell.
The real problem with the sugar spell isn’t the sugar or the cravings. It’s the guilt we feel about the sugar and the cravings. When you crave sugar, which is universally known as a “bad” food, you feel like something’s wrong: like you’re a bad person and that the craving is a sign of your weakness as a human being. It’s not.
Like I mentioned earlier, your cravings are simply your body asking you for something. Tune in to your inner body cues and make the conscious choice to give your body what it wants—food or non-food. Let go of that guilty feeling. There’s no need to feel guilt.
When you start to feel the guilt creep in, remind yourself that you’re listening to your body and treating it well by giving it what it’s asking for.
Being stuck in a sugar spell doesn’t need to be a bad thing.
It can be a signal that something needs to change.
That your body needs something.
Tune into your inner body cues, and make the conscious choice to give your body what it wants knowing that you’re treating yourself well by acknowledging your cravings, lovingly indulging your cravings with whole foods and releasing the guilt.
**I realize that satisfying a craving for a dozen munchkins with dark chocolate and almond butter sounds too good to be true. I try really hard to be realistic about sugar cravings as I’m definitely not perfect and I DO crave non-paleo foods from time to time. Especially Reduced Fat Blueberry Muffins from Dunkin’ Donuts (delicious, although not-Real-Food items from my past).
I believe that when you’re in the midst of a sugar spell—where you may be feeling particularly vulnerable and less-than-positive about food and eating—it’s important to strive to focus on whole food sweets with some nutritional value to avoid getting sucked into nutrient devoid processed foods.
When you’re feeling less than positive, it’s so easy to just say “f*ck it” and fill up on crap…but that’s not what your body wants. Truly. Your body wants nourishment—either food or non-food. Reduced Fat Blueberry Muffins are not nourishment in any way, shape or form.