I am and forever will be, addicted to sugar. I try to fast, eat greens, avoid sugary products but…the sugar always wins. I have laid the blame game on my Dad giving me sweets as a reward when I was a kid and society as a whole using sugary foods like candy, cakes and sweets as a reward for good behavior, having a birthday and every damn holiday. Deep down, though, I know it’s not any one’s fault but my own. Eating sugary foods feels good. When I eat something sweet, my brain is happy. I’ve just stimulated the release of dopamine in my brain, which makes me feel pleasure. And lately, I haven’t been feeling that much pleasure so I eat more sweets.
As a child-less woman approaching her 40’s, I have been feeling rather off lately. Not sure where I fit in or how I got to be this old. And so, I eat sugary foods. But they only last for so long. For years I have battled my sugar addiction. At times, I drink more alcohol (pure sugar with some not so good hangovers) and other times, I satisfy my cravings with healthy options. Lately, I’ve been satisfying my emotional needs with unhealthy sweet options. As I yo-yo my way through my emotions, my overall mood remains the same, unsatisfied. It’s only when I remember to go back to those things that work giving me long lasting pleasure, not the short-lived pleasure sweets give me, that I begin to feel a satisfied and able to take on life’s challenges.
When I go back to the “healthy” options, overall I do feel a little better. I may be still struggling with my age and if I’m keeping up with the Jones’ but at least I feel better. So, when you having one of those god-awful sweet cravings or also struggling with this thing we call life, try one of these solutions before you give in to the sweet addiction:
- Drink water when you want something sweet: The majority of time that you are craving something sweet, you are actually thirsty. If you can just wait a few minutes or so and let the water reach your body, your craving will actually go away. If it doesn’t read on…
- Find out what makes you happy, what releases dopamine, and do more of that: For some this could be playing with their kids, hanging out with their significant other, walking in the woods, shopping, exercising, sex, or whatever leaves you with a smile on your face. I’ve found just the simple act of taking a deep breath, sometimes helps me to feel better. Hugging someone, giving someone help, smiling at someone, all of these things release dopamine and thus make me feel better.
- Don’t keep things around the house to tempt you: If you have to get out of the house, drive or walk somewhere, to get your craving, then you are less likely to give in. Seems rather simple, but it’s surprising how many of us (me included) keep buying foods we know are not good for us and keep those in the house.
- Eat something green: It sounds counter-intuitive but when you eat more greens, you are getting more vitamin B-6 which helps to elevate the serotonin in your brain. Serotonin helps regulate your mood and if it’s low, good chance you are feeling low as well.
- Give in, a little: What does that mean? That means, allow yourself to have something a little sweet. I like to buy carob chips. They are malt-sweetened and a handful (or two) really does the trick. I also bake very healthy treats (see recipe below for some amazing brownies) and then eat one a day.
Cocoa Brownies (from a Clean Start, 2010, by Terry Walters)
1/2 cup grated apple or applesauce
8 pitted dates
1 ripe banana
1/2 cup maple syrup
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup brown teff flour
1/2 cup almond meal
1/2 cup cocoa powder
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
- Preheat oven to 350 F and lightly grease 8X8-inch baking dish.
- In food processor, combine applesauce, dates, banana, maple syrup, and vanilla until almost smooth, but with some chunks of date remaining.
- In separate bowl, combine teff flour, almond meal, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
- Pour wet ingredients into dry and mix as briefly as possible to incorporate all ingredients.
- Transfer to prepared baking dish and bake for 25 minutes or until top appears slightly dry. Remove from oven and place on wire rack to cool completely before cutting and removing from pan.
Makes 16 “ooey, gooey” brownies