About ten years ago, I was a walking sweet tooth. If you were a skittle, a twix bar,or a sour patch kid and you saw me coming, you'd run away as fast as the gingerbread man. (i loved those too, sadly). It seemed that after every meal, I'd crave some type of dessert. Babysitting was the worst. My favorite thing to do after the kids were asleep was to open up all the cupboards and see all those fun, colorful cereals. Mmmmmm, cinnamon toast crunch with a dash of fruity pebbles were a match made in heaven.
During my day job, (or jobs I should say) I was no more of a saint. At the time I was shooting a string of student films and if you're not familiar with the term "kraft services" here's a glimpse: Coffee, bagels, chips, packaged cookies, bite-sized Halloween candy (no matter what the season), and fruity beverages.
Yes, Alcohol is sugar too-
Being in the entertainment industry in Los Angeles was a constant struggle. You had to be thin and beautiful or you didn't stand a chance. At that time I had just been coming out of my college years that included an apartment with a full bar, and a kid's swimming pool in my bedroom which was used primarily as an ice chest to keep beer cold for parties. Our cupboards had a lot of packaged foods, snacks, and high sugar drinks. I wouldn't trade my college life for anything, but it did put me about 15 pounds overweight. (25 for Hollywood standards) and not very toned. It also didn't help that the extent of our exercise was to the liquor store which was conveniently one block away.
So what changed? Here is what I learned that has since changed my entire outlook on what I put in my body. Sugar in particular is complicated, and therefore requires some strong, mindful ammunition. Basically, there are 2 different types of cravings, physiological and emotional. Let me break it down cuz this is some pretty important stuff.
The physical craving
Sugar is a very powerful drug. Did you know that sugar binds to the same receptors in the body as morphine? Yikes! This is not just about willpower folks. Sugar is actually quite addictive and with each bite we take, the body craves more and more. Additionally, there are health conditions that can make this problem even worse, namely an overgrowth of Candida yeast (since sugar basically feeds yeast), mineral deficiencies, adrenal/stress overload, and general malnutrition.
The good news is, most of these conditions are diet-related and can be kept at bay by eating vegetables, herbs, superfoods, and whole-food supplementation. This is where nutrition counseling comes in!
Paying attention to the times of day that you crave sugar could also hold the key to some of your frustration. I began writing down everything I ate and specifically when I would crave sugar. Much of the time, it was after a salty/savory meal? Research has shown that our bodies tend to crave sugar, after salt to balance things out (ying-yang style). It makes sense why the chocolate chip cookie is such a staple; the salty/sweet balance. Or after salty Chinese food, you can't wait to crack open that fortune cookie. (see #5 )
The emotional demon
This boils down to our relationship with food. According to Geneen Roth, best-selling author of Woman, Food, & God says it comes down to 2 things. The first is awareness. "Be aware of the food in your mouth while it is in your mouth. Tasting it and allowing yourself to have the pleasure of it rather than wandering away into thought or being so focused on your belief that you can't get enough that you never take in what you already have." Does this thought process sound familiar? We don't give ourselves the time to truly enjoy what we're eating.
Another very important component is the "why" element. Why am I eating? Is it because I'm truly hungry, because it tastes good, or is there sometime else this food is providing besides nourishment. Love? Security? Distraction? That's the emotional demon asking this food to provide something that it can't. Keeping a food journal to help keep track of emotional demons is a fantastic way to figure out what your cravings are all about. Self inquiry can be difficult indeed, but once you've figured out your patterns, you can take steps to release them.
So here they are in a nutshell:
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