CANDY CRAVING REHAB
Natalie felt like she was addicted to candy, chocolates, and cookies when she came to see me. She had always been thin through her childhood and early adult years, but since starting a new job, her craving for sweets had escalated and she had gained 25 pounds over the past 2 years.
It started with grabbing candy in a fellow sales reps office while discussing sales strategies, but she now craved the sweets and had a drawer full in her office. If her stash was gone, she’d roam the office looking for more.
“I am an addicted freak”, she told me nearly in tears. “I know how to eat. I ‘juice’ for breakfast, eat a kale salad for lunch, and always something light for dinner, usually vegetarian. I even work out four days a week. But it’s this candy thing, and cookies too, and it’s getting worse. I feel out of control.”
Do you fall into this trap?
HOW WE TURN ON OUR CARB JUNKIE
PHYSICALLY: Excessive (and it doesn’t have to be that many servings) amounts of sugar, fat and salt (and even cheese and dairy products) can create addictive neural patterns in the brain similar to heroin addiction. People who struggle with their weight tend to be more sensitive and become “hooked” more easily to foods containing these ingredients.
MENTALLY: If we habitually eat certain foods at certain places and at certain times of the day, the brain becomes literally “wired” to expect the “food event” and becomes agitated when it doesn’t get it. We typically call this doing the same thing at the same time place “habit”. We feel agitated like a junkie does when he expects his next fix. That candy at 3 p.m. becomes the fix and 3 p.m. is now our fix time.
EMOTIONALLY: We become reliant upon certain carb based “comfort foods” because from an unconscious level comfort food isn’t the food but what it represents to us symbolically: food becomes reward, love, security, power, entertainment, success, celebration, a break etc.
Your life doesn’t don’t have to be run by your Carb seeking Junkie. The key is for your Inner Coach to have some strong strategies to keep you from awaking the Candy Craving within you in the first place.
7 STEPS TO TAKE BACK YOUR POWER OVER SUGAR
1. AVOID THE SALAD AND CANDY TRAP – Natalie spent a good amount of her day eating carbohydrates without much protein or healthy fats. Even her juice in the morning, without protein, turned to sugar in her system and began turning on her candy junkie brain.
Many of my smart female clients fall into what I call the “salad and candy trap” — they eat lots of greens and fruit but little protein and that creates a carb imbalance that drives the addictive feeling and need for sweeter things like candy.
2. AVOID A CARB BASED BREAKFAST- Try starting your day with protein versus just carbohydrates. This has been a key shift for many people who feel addicted to carbs. Try eggs, Greek yogurt or chicken or veggie protein sausage rather than toast or cold cereal.
Sometimes even oatmeal or a 400 calorie bagel can cause people to feel hungriersooner and lead to craving for something more to eat.
3. WEAVE PROTEIN THROUGH YOUR DAILY FOOD TO KEEP YOUR BLOOD SUGAR LEVELS STABILIZED: Blood sugar stabilization is a huge tool of Weight Mastery. Make a new habit of weaving protein and healthy fats throughout your day to keep your hunger at bay and blood sugar peaks and valleys smoothed out.
Make sure you are getting about 15-20 grams of protein a meal helps. Healthy fats like almonds make a good snack, and you don’t need many, maybe 10-20, to really stabilize your hunger levels at that 3 pm dip versus a refined carb that will spike your blood sugar and leave you feeling more tired and hungry as you head into the night.
Think of refined starches like cocktails, only to be had after 5 pm! The earlier in the day we eat refined food the earlier we begin wanting more!!!
4. AVOID EATING SUGAR OR REFINED CARBS ON AN EMPTY STOMACH: Nothing drives false hunger more than eating refined carbs on an empty stomach. Make a point not to eat your 15% GAKKY refined foods on an empty stomach. Have your treat at the end of a meal or a few hours after dinner as that “end of day” treat.
5. EAT MORE FIBER: Fiber also stabilizes blood sugar rises. You will find fiber in beans, high fiber whole grain breads and pasta (still keep in mind it is a serving of carbs), fruits and vegetables.
Eat 30 grams of fiber a day along with protein and healthy fats fruits and vegetables and keep that candy zombie in hibernation for a long time.
6. BE A LAB RAT – LEARN WHAT WORKS FOR YOU AND WHAT DOESN’T: One of the biggest Shifts for me was to learn to use myself as an ongoing science experiment. I became curious how the food I ate interacted in my body at certain times, with certain combinations etc. This is what we call being mindful—you are getting a “mind ful” of facts about yourself just by tuning in.
FYI – Every “body” is different in what level of starchy or refined carbohydrates it can tolerate before feeling “hooked” and craving more. Usually that amount is about 150 grams of carbohydrates a day but find your personal “carb ceiling” by observing your body’s reaction over the day.
7. FOCUS ON REPLACING CANDY WITH COMPETING REWARDS: Next time a craving hits, notice what the deeper need is. Often we don’t really need the candy but the craving is for true self care, like the need for a break or to refresh ourselves with some water.
Dig deeper and find the true need—it’s like discovering gold. Now you don’t need candy to take care of you, you are taking care of you.
TAKE BACK YOUR POWER FROM CANDY
Once you understand that you are not a hopeless addict, but that there are mental, physical, and emotional steps to removing yourself from the habit of eating too much candy, you can begin to take charge and recover. The prize isn’t just feeling free but the confidence that comes from knowing you can always pull yourself out of the trap when you fall in.
I hope you enjoy using these tools this upcoming spring holiday season—don’t let the Easter Bunny be the candy drug pusher!
You are prepared!