Lots of people say this to me.
Very normal, and a lot of the time I feel the same!
So I thought it might help to explain some the reason why you crave sweet things, and what you can do about it..
Sweets, cake, chocolate, and anything else calorific, delicious and ‘bad for you’ are the things we tend to REALLY want, particularly when bored, stressed, or around that time of the month.
The main reason is that these foods are largely made up of sugar and fat, which is a pretty lethal combination when it comes to our brain chemistry.
The sugar-fat combination lights up a ton of sensors in the brain, immediately causing lots of happy hormones to be released. These hormones make you feel calm, satisfied, relaxed, even downright gleeful at the delicousness of that chocolate melting in your mouth.
Our brains are designed to feel good when we eat high fat high sugar foods, mainly because as we evolved we would often go through periods when food was not readily available. We needed to be able to want and enjoy foods that would give us a lot of energy and calories to survive the lean times.
So we all have a tendency to like these sort of foods. But some people can take them or leave them, and some people NEED TO HAVE THEM IMMEDIATELY!
Why is this?
It’s highly likely you have developed an emotional connection with these foods, usually from a very young age.
When you’re a child, sweet foods are often given as a treat if you’ve been good, or to cheer you up when you’re sad.
They then become associated with feeling good, happy, loved, comforted. Sweet foods are exciting, rewarding and soothing all at the same time.
And every single time you ate a sweet food and experienced these feelings over the years, you slightly strengthened the pathway in the brain that leads you to want that food and crave the effects it has.
So after reinforcing this neural pathway over and over and over (and over) again, you now have a super-strong mega-highway in your head that is capable of sending VERY powerful urges to go and eat that cake.
The thing about these pathways that get created in the brain is that they can’t be undone or got rid of.
Once they’re in there, they can’t be erased, and they’ll keep reminding you of that fact.
BUT what you can do is create a new and better pathway in the brain that gives you the results you want.
Once you understand that the strength of your cravings is down to the amount of time you’ve spent unintentionally reinforcing this pattern, you can see that this is just a shortcut the brain has created to try and help you out. The purpose of the shortcut is to help you make a quick and easy decision – the same as how you don’t need to think about how to drive anymore – it’s become automatic, which means space is freed up to think about other more important things, like what to have for dinner.
By understanding that, you can step back for a second, observe your thoughts, thank your brain for trying to be helpful, and then plan a different approach.
You can always (at any age) create new pathways in the brain and, if you reinforce them enough times, turn them into shortcuts that fire automatically.
So when a craving hits, step back for a second and try to figure out why.
Are you bored? Tired? Hungry? Thirsty? Upset? Lonely?
What can you do to solve the actual issue?
Every time you override a craving, do something else and feel good about it (CRUCIAL POINT – make sure you feel pleased, empowered and proud of yourself every time you succeed to reinforce in your mind that it’s a GOOD thing), you strengthen a new pathway in your mind. The brain will realise that there’s less and less traffic on the old sweet-craving mega-highway, and it will start to automatically travel down the new ever-improving road you are creating.
Your brain learns by association and feelings, so make sure you feel REALLY GOOD whenever you are successful.
You’ll have a few blips, but don’t feel bad and tell yourself you’re weak or you can’t do it, just put it behind you without emotion and move on. Save the feelings for positive reinforcement. Keep it up and before long it will be a habit.