Check out Part 1 here
4. You’re stressed
When we’re stressed out - whether it be from work, a relationship or just too many commitments - our stress hormone cortisol sky rockets, leaving us feeling nervous, agitated and tense. It’s no wonder then, that in times of stress we crave sugar the most - because not only does cortisol increase appetite, but also because eating sugar triggers the release of another hormone called serotonin, which is calming and relaxing.
Reaching for sugar becomes the easiest way to ’take a chill pill’ and find some comfort amongst all that stress - but it causes havoc on our waistline and health in the process. A quick fix of sugar to treat stress is tempting, albeit not worth it and not very effective in the long-run.
Understanding your triggers with stress, setting more boundaries and implementing techniques like meditation, exercise and mindfulness can all safeguard you from the persistent effects of cortisol and give you a better chance at calmly saying “no” and making better choices the next time a craving strikes.
5. Your environment is tempting you
While a lot of cravings are caused by internal mechanisms - sometimes it’s simply our environment that’s causing us to ‘slip up’ and reach for chocolate because all of a sudden we just need it.
An office full of snacks, a supermarket scattered with packaged treats, sitting in a cinema where seemingly everyone is eating something delicious, or hanging around friends who are addicted to sugar themselves - these are all environmental situations that can easily weaken our senses and make us feel like we should join in on the sugar fun too.
Society has normalised the constant consumption of sugar - it’s everywhere we look and it’s in all our favourite foods. Resisting temptation therefore means trying to control our environment as much as possible so we’re less likely to feel inclined to ‘treat yourself’ “just because”. Pack your own healthy snacks to the movies, set up your office with some healthier options to have on offer, stick to the fresh produce aisles of your supermarket and don’t let your friends derail your health goals.
6. It's become a habit
With all the above reasons in mind - poor sleep, stress, under-eating, restriction - it’s no surprise that many of us become quite literally addicted to the calming, ‘feel-good’ effects of sugar in the face of perceived adversity.
If we repeat the same patterns over and over again - e.g. we combat fatigue with a block of chocolate, we become hard-wired to keep turning to that mechanism to cope with future episodes of low energy or stress. We remember that instant sugar ‘hit’ we obtained once, and it becomes the easiest and most obvious remedy to keep dealing with something we really should be treating more mindfully and with our long-term health in mind.
Breaking habits starts with action today - the more times you can turn to more productive means to feel good and in the process turn down the quick fix of sugar, the stronger your willpower and continually managing cravings in the future. Break the habit, find new ways to fuel your body well and manage stress or fatigue, and set yourself up for a future where cravings don’t rule your life.