7 easy ways to kill the post Easter chocolate addiction and those pesky cravings!
Why does the chocolate call out to me?
To be honest the easiest way to stop the cravings happening at all is to not eat it in the first place. After all if you haven’t got it in the house, then you can’t eat it right?
How many times have you or your partner had chocolate in the house and it just simply calls your name. And it keeps calling until you gobble it all up! And why shouldn’t you enjoy a little of the milky, sweet stuff every now and again?
I have learnt some great tricks over the years and can finally say I don’t have a problem with sweet, sugary chocolate any more. I do enjoy it from time to time but I know when I have had enough and I also know how to not get to ‘that place’ again!
‘That place’ is simply the place you arrive at before and after a period of controlled abstinence. A place where you have been so good but all of a sudden you start eating it and you can’t stop! You crave chocolate all the time and you can’t stop eating it. The chocolate calls out your name and won’t stop until it’s all but gone! Every time you walk past the chocolate in the petrol station or coffee shop it’s there right winking at you!
Jilly, Jilly, Jilly…… come and eat me. I am all alone in the cupboard. I am sooooo sweet, velvety and tasty. You know you want to gobble me all up. Don’t hold back. It won’t hurt. Just a little more……. – Dastardly chocolate in the cupboard!
So how can you kill the post Easter sweet cravings?
Chocolate simply upsets your blood sugar levels and brain chemistry. Yes it tastes bloody good and you feel good…… for a while. BUT the impact it has on your metabolism and appetite will have your hunger, energy and cravings up and down like a world record attempt at Yo-Yoing!
The sugar and fat in the milk chocolate spikes your blood sugar super quick. When this happens, not only does it make fat storing easier but it also means blood sugars will fall much more quickly afterwards leaving you wanting another quick fix. Apart from feeling rubbish, tired and grumpy, this also creates low level inflammation (higher cholesterol, risk of diabetes, lower immunity etc) and of course means you will want MORE of the said stuff!
Sugar is highly addictive to most people (yes you will know some slim friends that can take it or leave it….damn them!) but they generally don’t have a weight problem. So ignore this and accept that you are different and will need to use an approach that works for you! But understand it is more than just about the calories from sugar. Sweet, milky chocolate has a massive impact on hormones and brain chemistry. This is different from the beneficial impact garnered from high quality cocoa chocolate which is best taken as close to as nature intended as possible (i.e. no added sugar and manufactured oils etc and not cooked and processed in high temperatures)
Read this great article about sugar addiction here: Sugar addiction exactly like cocoaine addiction except one is legal!
“Our research supports the theory that high-fat/high-sugar foods stimulate the brain in the same way that drugs do,” said Joseph Schroeder, director of the college’s behavioural neuroscience program.
I have listed below my top seven tips for quashing the chocolate monster! Gone will be the morning, lunch, afternoon and post dinner cravings and conversations with the chocolate monster sat on your shoulder and in it’s place you will once again be a peace with your inner chocolate demons!:
- Firstly Increase you protein intake in the mornings. Eggs are the perfect way to start the day and put blood sugar levels on an even footing. When you start the day with a slow and steady rise of blood sugar as opposed to it rocketing sky high you will find it much easier to say no. The perfect choices would be poached eggs, avocado on rye. Or a veggie filled omelette. If making time is always a problem in the mornings then a protein shake or porridge with nuts and seeds could be a great alternative to the sweet, sugar cereals or toast options
- Try to understand what these cravings mean. Cravings are a result of a hormonal or brain chemistry imbalance. Trying to use willpower to overcome these powerful basic physiological human drives will end up futile. You might manage it for a while, but eventually you will cave in like a shoe box with a concrete slab on top! This blog explains perfectly and simply the relationship between two really powerful brain neurotransmitters and how you can influence them through awareness and diet.
- Avoid the hidden sugars or sweeteners in diet drinks. These can upset your blood sugar levels too. And are often present without you even realising. Coffee shop coffees, low calorie, low fat diet foods, cereals. Read EVERY label and be super vigilant. These hidden sugars will gently encourage those cravings even if they are low calorie! If it comes in a packet or box, then likely it has sugars in it somewhere! The easiest way to avoid these is to NOT keep them to hand! Make a special occasion out of it from time to time but not everyday.
- Chocolate isn’t all bad! You can still have it. In fact it’s highly beneficial to have it. However, not in the form you are probably thinking. The best way to get the beneficial hit in the brain without impacting the blood sugar is to have cocoa or raw chocolate. Without the added sugar and with all the natural antioxidants present, it can give you a mood and motivation boost without a low. BUT you must avoid the processed, sugary forms found in milk chocolate for example. Cocoa quite literally means ‘food of the gods’ but we turned it into ‘food of the devil’ by adding vast quantities of sugar and bad fats to it. Read more about the benefits of cocoa here.
- Sleep and stress such as overexercise or a poor work/life balance can upset brain chemistry leaving you with cravings stronger than the smell of rotting blue cheese left on the side for three weeks! Trying to resolve your sugar cravings without tackling the underlying reasons first is akin to putting a plaster over a burst artery! You will not stem the flow and eventually you will be bled dry and feeling as flat as a pancake and as fat as a pig! Take steps to address the issues. Ironically, removing sugar will lower stress. Along with removing other stimulants such as coffee, alcohol and over exercising. I would highly recommend adding in some leisure walking, mediation, yoga or just general time out for you. Lowering your chronic stress levels can do wonders for the mind, body and brain giving you a fighting chance at making good health choices. Even just learning to deep belly breath through the day can have a tremendous effect. I am a huge fan of Andrew Johnson and his App Relax which you can download onto your phone.
- Increasing fibre with each meal and snack alongside your protein and low sugar carbs (such salad, vegetables and low sugar fruits) with help manage blood sugar levels. The more managed your blood sugar the more you will feel balanced through the day. When you feel balanced you will not be struggling with excess sensations such as fatigue, hunger or cravings. What’s more you should remain calm, focussed and with enough motivation to do the things necessary to get you through the day. When these things are imbalanced, your body will give you a sign. It is these bio-signals that lead you to make choices. Good or bad. So if cravings strike learn to try and detect what triggered it. Ask yourself questions: did I go to bed too late yesterday? Did I drink too much coffee? Did I skip lunch? Did I overdo the exercise? When you start to see a pattern or recognise the impact your choices and exposure has on you, you can start to build a formula to help you treat the cause as opposed to the symptoms!
- We are all so very different. Some of us will have out brain chemistry altered food that has been processed in some form. I like to call these foods #beigedeadfoods. Even brown, wholegrain bread can have a negative effect on the human metabolism and brain chemistry. Don’t be lured into the clever marketing. If you are struggling to lose weight or struggling to get off the sugar roller coaster then I strongly recommend your ditch these #beigedeadfoods. To clarify, beige dead foods have been processed, baked, cooked, milled, ground or had some modification done to them. Some more then others. They tend to be very low in fibre relative to their sugar content and some are barely recognisable in the gut. Raising blood sugar as quickly or quicker than table sugar. Generally speaking if it’s beige, it’s likely to be dead too! Here is a little list of some of the worst or read a little more here: What is #beigedeadfood anyway?
- Breakfast cereals (YES even the low calorie, wholegrain ones!)
- White bread
- White rice
- Brown bread
- Pasta and other grains and wheat based goods such as cous cous
- Crackers, biscuits
- Pastries, pies, tarts, flans
- Ice cream
Eating a close to nature intended and moving in a way that is in line with our genetic blue print is the simplistic approach. However, in modern life today this can be a challenge. But you can create an awareness and mindfulness about your lifestyle. Even just small changes here and there can lead to a big difference down the line. Aiming for perfection isn’t helpful to anyone. But finding a sustainable approach that works for you is!
Good luck and please do let me know how you get on!
Big love, small tummies!
Jill – The Fat Controller