If you're health conscious, very busy and a front runner for a 'Super Person of the Year' award, there's a good chance you also have a sugar habit that just won't quit.
You know exactly what a 'healthy' diet involves, yet you can't quite seem to stay away from sugar-laden junk foods. And that lack of control over something so basic (it's a packet of biscuits for God's sakes) probably drives you crazy.
If this is you, the first thing you need to start believing is that your 'sugar addiction' actually has very little to do with sugar.
I imagine you're profusely shaking your head at this point. Common sense says the reason you can't eat one biscuit without devouring the entire packet is because they taste too damn good and your willpower is non-existent.
I'm a big fan of common sense, but on this occasion, it's way off mark.
I've coached many women who believed their problem was a junk food habit they couldn't get control over. But 99% of the time, a little bit of digging revealed the real problem to be a lifestyle imbalance.
The good news is that once you address the lifestyle problem, the out of control eating quickly ceases to be an issue.
Don't believe me?
Take a look at the following lifestyle imbalances that lead to a raving sweet tooth and ask yourself if your sugar cravings just so happen to coincide with these scenarios
If you function under high-pressure - meeting tight deadlines, travelling a lot and putting out a lot of fires on a daily basis - your body is in a constant state of stress. Fact. This means your levels of the stress hormone cortisol are probably higher than they should be. And while this increase in cortisol during a stressful episode usually leads to a loss of appetite in the short term, once things have calmed down, the body moves into refuel mode and that's when you start to eat everything in sight. This is why you barely eat when you're stressed out at work during the day, but the second you come home and relax in the evening, you devour all the sweets and desserts you can get your hands on.
There's no quicker way to lift your mood - albeit temporarily - than by reaching for a sweet treat. It's a universal behaviour. Whether it's in the aftermath of a blazing argument, a break up or simply a bad day at work - there's much comfort to be found in a tub of Ben and Jerry's. We all reach for sugar when we feel low because it acts directly on the brain, causing it to make more of the hormones that makes us feel happy and relaxed - dopamine and serotonin. The problem is - as with all pleasure-enhancing drugs - the feel-good high is short lived and unless the cause of the unhappiness is addressed, that animal instinct to feel better as quickly as possible won't go away and neither will the siren song of the biscuit tin. This means if you've been fighting a relentless sweet tooth for a a while, it may be time to take a closer look at if there's a long-standing source of unhappiness in your life that you may have grown used to ignoring.
Ever noticed how your desire to eat sugary junk foods dramatically rises the day after a bad nights' sleep or when you're up late doing something you really don't want to be doing (like your tax return for example)? There are two reasons for this. Firstly, when you're tired your judgement is impaired and your ability to make good dietary choices flies out of the window. Secondly, glucose (ie. sugar) is the primary source of fuel for your brain, which means it's an instant pick me up. From a physiological point of view, if you're tired and decide not to opt for the real thing you need (sleep), your body will go for the next best thing - instant fuel in the form of sugar and more sugar.
So if these things are the problem, what's the solution?
If you have a relentless sweet tooth, next time you're hit with a craving, stop and take stock of what exactly is going on at that present moment. Accept that 'yes I really want chocolate right now' but ask yourself why. There's always something else driving the desire for a sugar fix - especially if the desire is sudden, strong and all-consuming.
The answer to that will give you all you need to know about the real cause of your sugar cravings.