Cravings suck. They’re hard to control. They consume your every thought. Sugar and sweet cravings are the worst. And it seems the only real way to get rid of them is to give in and eat the sweets you’re craving.
Or is it?
What if I told you the answer is BOTH yes and no?
What if I told you there was a way you could satisfy your craving, put a stop to the cravings, and get to eat the sweets, all at the same time?
First, allow me to explain why you’re having these sweets and sugar cravings in the first place.
The Addiction Caveat
Sweets cravings (or any other food craving for that matter) do not occur because you’re addicted to sugar. I go into way more detail on this over here in this post, but cravings happen because you have stopped listening to your body and tried to take control yourself. And it’s not your fault. For some reason our society has gotten a pretty big head and thinks we know better than this scientific marvel of a machine that is our body. So bear with me while I try to explain a few things that are happening here. Hunger, satisfaction, and permission have been wholly ignored or thrown out of whack. Cravings usually occur when one or more of these factors are at play.
Hunger is not a Craving
This first one has nothing to do with sugar or sweets or anything else you’re eating. In fact, it has more to do with what (or how much rather) you’re NOT eating.
So let me guess. You’re on a diet?
You know what? Diets make you hungry. Their sole purpose is to have you end your day with fewer calories taken in than waht you’re body needs. That leaves you hungry.
And when you’re hungry, and you ignore that hunger, your body, in all its infinite wisdom, engages in actions that make life difficult, if not miserable. Until the hunger is satisfied that is. It pours out more hunger hormones, interrupting the balance of hormones that keep you focused (intentionally making you turn your attention to the hunger), and eventually slowing down your metabolism which gives you lower amounts of energy.
It Is Okay To Be Satisfied From Your Food
Now this is a slightly more elusive, but fully explainable, effect at play in your sugar and sweets cravings. Satisfaction is what’s at work when you eat something different from what you were craving and in the end still feel like you want to eat. When you don’t satisfy your desire for the food you originally craved, your brain will keep thinking about it. Until you eat it. The thing is though, it most likely won’t take very much of the craved food to satisfy you. The problem is that without the final factor, permission, and in the shadows of the first factor, hunger, you will likely feel completely out of control. You think that if you allow yourself to have any of it, you’ll go way overboard and eat ALL of it. You think you won’t be able to stop eating it.
Permission Is Key To Removing Sugar Cravings
So let’s explore this permission thing. Permission is when you allow yourself to have the sweets you’re craving. Permission is a state of mind. It removes restriction. Restriction is what happens when you diet or when you believe you have sugar, sweets, or other addictions.
To better understand permission, you have to first understand restriction. Restriction is also a state of mind. When you have a restrictive mindset, certain foods are not allowed, and calories are usually limited (for weight loss purposes). Calorie restriction will lead to hunger. And sugar restriction will lead to you obsessively thinking about the sweets you aren’t allwoing yourself to have. You won’t feel satisfied from both an energy needs perspective and from a food enjoyment perspective.
Restriction typically leads to loss of that elusive “control”, and that’s when binges occur. Binges lead to feelings of guilt, which then leads to restricting again. This restrict-binge cycle can result in mental health instability and weight cycling, both of which have poor health implications.
With a mindset of permission, on the other hand, you feel empowered to satisfy your hunger, satisfy your sweets cravings, and control is no longer a factor. It is replaced instead with mindfulness and enjoyment. You eat the foods you want, you make wise decisions about your eating because you’re giving your body and brain adequate energy to support hormone balance. You also can stop thinking about the sugar you really wanted because your brain knows you can have it any time. Hunger, satisfaction, and permission are all appeased.
Interested in getting rid of your sweets cravings?
Here are three important keys to making this work.
1. Permission must be unconditional.
Giving yourself unconditional permission to eat means everything goes. NO restrictions whatsoever. It also means no judgement. At all. Not about what you eat. Not about when you eat. No judging how much you eat. And no judging why you eat. It’s all allowed. Unconditionally.
2. Permission needs you to honor your fullness.
But unconditional does not mean you ignore your fullness signals and eat past comfortable fullness. Doing so can lead to similar feelings of guilt and regret that binge eating leads to and can inadvertently lead to urges to restrict. Instead, honoring your body signals and eating enough to satisfy will leave you feeling neutral about those sweets.
3. Permission requires you to remove judgement from foods.
When you label foods as good, bad, healthy, unhealthy, junk, and treats, you unintentionally pass judgement on yourself when you eat them. You internalize and start to identify yourself as the good, the bad, the junk, etc. that you have labeled the food you are eating. That’s a lot to take on. And it’s rubbish. Food is just food. It is not moral, does not have moral characteristics, and cannot alter your character.
So instead of looking at sugar cravings as something you need to control, try switching gears and viewing them as a signal from your body that it might be feeling a bit restricted and judged. Then let go of those restrictions and judgements and try instead to allow yourself to enjoy those sweets.