Have you ever been doing really well with food and exercise,
then suddenly lost all willpower and sense of control and ended up bingeing on sugar and junk?
It happens to a lot of people, in varying levels of frequency.
A few of my clients have named it the sugar monster.
The sugar monster loves chocolate, cake, biscuits and ice cream, and it tends to strike most when you are tired or stressed.
What can you do to beat it?
Here’s 6 simple tips that can make a big difference –
1 – Prioritise getting enough sleep
Tiredness = very low willpower and very low energy. Your body will seek to get quick and easy energy to make itself feel better. Sugary fatty foods seem like the perfect solution, plus they give you that temporary warm hug feeling of pleasure too. Your brain will send out an urge to find this food and because you’re tired, you won’t have the mental energy or willpower to resist.
2 – Always have a food plan for the day
When you’re busy rushing around, tired and / or stressed, your ability to make good decisions can easily go out of the window. If you’ve planned your day in advance and have healthy foods ready and available, you don’t need to make any more decisions or make extra effort to find or make something – just eat what you planned. No more work for the brain is required, and you’re much more likely to stay on track. If you have no plan to follow, there’s suddenly a lot of high-calorie ready-made options that seem very appealing and before you know it, your good healthy day has been derailed.
3 – Have back-up healthy foods available
It’s never an excuse to eat junk because you were hungry and had nothing else available. If you’re at home, you could keep tins of tuna, cans of soup, rice cakes and protein bars in the cupboard. Oats, protein powder and frozen berries make a really tasty, quick and easy meal. You can have eggs in the fridge and wholemeal or protein bread in the freezer. All those things would help fill you up and give you some nutrition too. If you’re out, keep a protein bar in your glove box or handbag so you don’t need to buy chocolate.
4 – Don’t restrict yourself too much
A lot of people think that to lose weight and be healthy, they must completely ban themselves from having certain foods. This is not the case. You can include any food in your diet and still lose weight if you stay at the appropriate level of calories for your body. If you constantly think you can’t have something, you end up wanting it more, and eventually you’ll cave. Don’t waste calories on biscuits and junk food you’re not that bothered by – save it for the amazing slice of cake or a bit of your favourite chocolate when you really fancy it. If 90% of your calories come from healthy nutritious foods and 10% come from less healthy things you really enjoy, you’re on a path to long term success.
5 – Drink water throughout the day
It’s amazing how easily thirst can be mistaken for hunger. If you get that ‘hunger’ feeling when you’re low on resolve, it can easily turn into a craving and full blown attack of the sugar monster. Keep your water levels topped up throughout the day and you’ll feel fuller, have more energy, and be much less likely to experience cravings.
6 – Give yourself a break and de-stress
If you’re like most of the women I work with, chances are you spend the vast majority of your time putting others first and trying to do a million things before the day is over. We are all so busy and have so much to think about each day that our poor brains can’t cope and go into meltdown. Make some time for yourself to just chill out, even if it’s only 5 minutes a day to start with. Have a bath, read a book, go for a walk, go out with a friend, have a lie down or just sit and do some deep breathing.
Finally, if you do get an attack of the sugar monster, don’t beat yourself up. What’s done is done, and feeling bad about it won’t help.
Analyse what went wrong – chances are you didn’t do at least one of the 5 things mentioned above. Make sure you put something in place so that it will be easier to make a better decision next time.
If you over-ate on sugar and fat, you could go for some lean protein and veggies in your next meal to balance things out and give your body the good nutrition that it needs.
Avoid the temptation to write the whole day off and continue to eat crap..!
Just focus on getting straight back on track and caring for your body with quality food, sleep, water and exercise.
Hayley Plummer = Haywards Heath Personal Trainer