This is one so many people struggle with! They know they need to stop eating sugary treats, they want to achieve their health and fitness goals but they just cannot stop themselves reaching for those biscuits at tea time!
First off let me say that in the majority of cases it is not simply that you don’t have enough willpower (one we hear people say a lot). This is more likely to be a physiological rather than a psychological problem, although there will be times where emotional eating is at play, but we’ll save that for another time!
Hands up who manages to steer their way through the day eating lots of healthy food only to get home and scoff whatever you can get your hands on before dinner is even made….? If this is you then there is a good chance that you’ve gone too long without eating. The average time it takes a person to burn through the food they have eaten is 3 ½ – 4 hours. If you have lunch at 1pm and nothing until 5.30pm, your blood sugar levels will be too low and your body will send you strong signals to get quick release energy foods (sugar) into your system straight away. So you can see why the problem isn’t a case of lack of willpower. These cravings are there as a safety measure to stop your body becoming hypoglycaemic (low blood sugar levels) which left unchecked can be very dangerous. You are going to have to really work hard to override a system hardwired into you by Mother Nature to keep you safe. It is much easier stave of those heavy craving by having well balanced snacks strategically placed throughout the day.
But your sugar cravings might because you are stuck in what I call the ‘sugar cycle’. Whenever you eat anything that is high in refined sugar your blood sugar levels shoot up almost immediately. Your body responds by releasing the hormone insulin which opens up the cells of the body to allow the sugar to be stored. This in turn causes your body to go into a state of low blood sugar where you feel tired, lethargic and have those very strong cravings for more sugar. Usually this repeats throughout the day causing you to constantly look for the quick energy type foods to pick you up out of your latest energy slump! Just remember a sugar high will always be followed by a sugar low!
Believe it or not, how much sleep you get plays a major part in this. A new study from University of Berkeley Calafornia has found that sleepless nights make us more likely to reach for doughnuts or pizza than for lentils and leafy green vegetables. The study examines the brain regions that control food choices. The findings shed new light on the link between poor sleep and obesity. Researchers scanned the brains of 23 healthy young adults, first after a normal night’s sleep and next, after a sleepless night. They found impaired activity in the sleep-deprived brain’s frontal lobe, which governs complex decision-making, and increased activity in deeper brain centres that respond to rewards. Participants favoured unhealthy snacks and junk food when they were sleep deprived. Not surprisingly, high-calorie foods were also much more desirable when participants were sleep-deprived. This combination of altered brain activity and decision-making may help explain why people who sleep less also tend to be overweight or obese.
So there you have it; 3 simple rules to help stop you having those evil cravings for bad foods:
- Eat regularly to avoid low blood sugars levels which lead to very strong cravings for sugar.
- Keep your sugar intake to a minimum; avoid chasing sugar to overcome an inevitable crash!
- Get regular, good quality sleep (I can vouch for this – the first year of my wee boy’s life was the worst my diet has been since I was a teenager!)
I really hope you have found this to be useful and if you would like some more info on how you can look and feel great after 40 click the link below to claim your free guide today