By: Kaileen Sherk
Yeah, yeah, yeah—I know you’ve heard it all before—sugar is bad for you. So do I really need to remind you that among the reasons you haven’t gone cold turkey may have something to do with the fact that it’s pretty much EVERYWHERE— laced into the processed foods and used in most restaurants. Not to mention that we’re hotwired from that first birthday cake to use sugary sweetness as a way to celebrate, then later to ease the pain of living.
But did you know there is a nutritional link on the cellular level that also drives this addiction? Lacking vital nutrients, the body can resort to using sugar as a quick energy boost.
If you’re feeling doomed right about now, don’t despair. There are 5 steps you can take to start taming the sugar tyrant and take charge over what and how you eat.
Step 1: Be Realistic About What You Want
The first step to gaining control over sugar cravings and processed junk food is to be realistic about what kind of relationship to food and sugar you think you can actually live with. It might seem trendy to be “sugar-free” these days, but if your heart is not in it to win it, then you are just setting yourself up for a world of struggle.
If this is the case, it might be helpful to think in terms of what types of foods are “worth” eating and which ones you’d be okay with leaving behind. This puts you in the driver’s seat, picking and choosing and basically setting your own limits.
So, here’s a possible scenario: You occasionally want to eat chocolate and you get to decide when that’s right for you. You are the one who defines when, where, and what you really want to have.
And remember, if you DO decide to eat sweets, the most important thing you can do for your mental and physical well-being is to LOVE IT! Beating up on yourself dumps toxic stress-hormones into your body (like cortisol and adrenaline). These stress hormones can have a damaging effect on your physical body. Negative self-talk is not only demoralizing but it can perpetuate the unwanted cycle of eating sweets.
Step 2: Identify the Enemy
Changing your eating habits can sometimes feel like all out war. And while it may seem like sugar is the bad guy — it’s the emotional connection we have with sugar that’s the real enemy.
In order to master your sugar intake, think about looking at all the sugar-triggers—the emotions that lead you to crave sweets.
So many diets start out with good intentions but then stress happens and suddenly you’re reaching for the M & M’s.
And let’s face it. So often it’s the emotions that get the better of us more than anything.
Sweets can mean a lot of things to a lot of people—pleasure, comfort, even friendship which is what makes it so hard to set aside.
But the next time the cravings set in, take a moment to notice what it is you might be getting along with that candy bar. Is it pleasure, reward, connection, or a feeling of self-love or comfort—or maybe something else?
The moment you can identify these emotions, is the moment you have a choice about how you might seek those rewards in some other way.
So consider this scenario: You’re stressed out by an out-of-control schedule. You start to picture a lovely candy bar—but you know now that what you really need even more than that is 20 minutes with your shoes off, chilling to some music or watching something funny on TV before starting dinner.
Just think, if these unexamined emotions have been causing you to sabotage your health goals, then imagine the power they will have when they are working toward your goals — instead of against them.
Step 3: Nourish Your Brain with the Good Stuff
If you deal with gripping physical cravings your brain might be calling out for help. Your brain loves sugar because it dumps a massive amount of dopamine into your system. When you’re low in dopamine or serotonin your brain gets “hungry” for things to give it a quick dopamine spike—like sugar.
Looking for alternative Brain Food?
How about Chia? It’s a great way to get healthy omega fats into your diet. Plus, it supports the neuro-transmitters in the brain—in other words, it helps the circuitry communicate with itself more efficiently. Avocados and Almonds are also really good because not only are they great sources of healthy fats but they contain tyrosine which helps produce dopamine.
Other ways to increase your “feel good” hormones are the oldie’s but goodies like exercise, sex, and sleep 🙂
Step 4: See It To Believe it!
The secret to creating what you want in life is to have a clear picture of where you are going and then focus on the positive feelings you’d get if it really happened!
If you cannot “see” yourself being free from sugar, then it strongly limits your chances of ever being that way.
Mental conditioning, like intention-based visualization, enhances your ability to focus your thoughts and to energize those thoughts with the power of your desire.
Professional athletes and successful entrepreneurs use the power of intention driven visualization to focus on what they want and “seeing” their ideal scenario coming true.
Try it! It’s actually quite simple to condition your thoughts to work for you, instead of against you.
If you have ever found yourself drifting off into a daydream then you already have the ability to use your thoughts in a productive way.
As an experiment you might try this:
Next time you have a few moments (maybe staring out the window, or laying in bed before going to sleep) give yourself permission to daydream for awhile. Imagine how wonderful you will look and feel—and hear all the great things being said about you when you create an empowered relationship to sugar, food, and life.
You are guaranteed to start feeling more confident and motivated with daily focused and intention-driven daydreaming.
Step 5: Say “NO” to Sugar and “Yes” to Superfoods
Saying “No” to sugar doesn’t have to mean being deprived! In fact, there are many nutrient rich and powerful energy foods that can help you feel nourished, comforted, and satisfied! All it takes is stepping outside the box.
For example, how about trying some Chocolate Alternatives: Raw Cacao and Coconut Oil are some of our favorite foods for creating sweet alternatives. When you find solutions that help nourish your body and mind you will be more empowered to say “No, thanks” to sugar.
So remember! Even when in the grips of a sugar craving, you actually have more power to influence the outcomes than you might think. Once you decide to be in charge, you can start by taking these five basic steps toward mastering the way you eat and the way you live.
Decide what you want, identify what is standing in your way, fuel up with brain food, and begin to see yourself being successful with what you want. And remember, you can always say “No” to the things that are not best for you and your body.
The main take-away we’d like to offer you is that it’s not just a matter of calories and dietary styles, but it’s also the emotions around food that can make all the difference between happiness and failure. Understanding and addressing their needs will help free you from stressful, unconscious, eating habits and start you on the path toward a happier way to live.
If you feel ready to really get control of those emotional saboteurs wreaking havoc with your well made plans, check out our new, revolutionary program called, “Breaking Up with Sugar”.
It’s unique and effective because it’s designed to help you understand your own motivations and then reframe a new relationship to food and your own power to change.
So if you’re ready to kick your sugar cravings, then click below to get started:
Sculpt My Health is a thriving community where people from around the world embody and celebrate their unique definition of health bringing together health hacks on food, movement and the mind. Kaileen Sherk is co-founder of Sculpt My Health and author of Breaking Up With Sugar and has a combined 20+ years of personal growth exploration, teachings, and coaching with a deep understanding of how the human mind functions, to create more excitement, fun and passion in personal growth.