In this Thursday Therapy, Glenn shares his five top tips for overcoming sugar addiction. Intuitive eating approaches don’t ban foods and help you learn to listen to your body’s signals instead of rigid rules. But does this work with foods that have been designed to addict the brain and circumvent the body’s natural appetite regulation? In this video we marry the psychology AND physiology of sugar to help you overcome sugar cravings for good.
LINKS FROM VIDEO
- Viewer question on being sugar addiction. [01:30]
- How dieting creates sugar cravings. [03:19]
- Removing sugar from your environment. [03:45]
- How addressing emotional eating can help reduce sugar cravings. [04:38]
- Mindful eating of sugar can turn a craving into a positive experience. [05:16]
- On the “weird” therapies and cravings – EFT Tapping and Hypnotherapy. [06:49]
- Parting thoughts on sugar cravings. [07:54]
Hey everyone. Happy New Year. We hope you’ve had a good break. We are ready for another year of Thursday Therapy where I answer your questions on the psychology of eating, physical activity, weight, and body image.
This year remember we have coming up Secrets of the Success Stories, as well. This is the series that you asked for where we can see what we can learn from authentically told stories of real people in that 5% of people who have lost weight and kept it off. That comes free as part of being part of the video series. If you’re not part of that, just subscribe in the links below.
But for today let’s get to answering this question because it is a cracker. In fact, I can’t believe we haven’t answered it on Thursday Therapy before. Karen asks, “I feel like I’m addicted to sugar, and I have a hard time not eating chocolate. I eat it when not hungry, as well as when I am hungry, and I really crave it. It feels like it’s not only a physical sensation, but also a psychological and emotional pull as well. Sometimes, when I stop to check in I’m not really enjoying it, but I feel I have to have it.”
Karen this is a great question because there’s no doubt that these foods have some pretty powerful addictive properties in our brain. Some studies in rats show that sugar is as addictive as cocaine, and of course, the food companies spend a lot of time and a lot of money getting foods to that bliss point, which is that right amount of sugar to really fire up your brain, and of course, get you coming back for more.
So people who follow our work they know that we follow more of an intuitive eating approach where there’s banned foods. We’re learning to listen to our hunger and fullness and saver foods, but people always come to us and say, “Yeah, I get that but certain foods like sugar, I can’t eat them mindfully. When I start to eat them it’s just like something goes crazy in my brain, and I can’t stop.”
So what we’re going to do today is we’re going to help you marry up some of the principles of intuitive eating with the reality that these foods do have some pretty powerful addictive properties. Here’s the other thing, getting over sugar cravings is a pretty big thing, so I’m going to give you my five top ideas, but also refer you to places where you can dig a little further down the rabbit hole, because that’s what you might need to do to really overcome sugar addiction.
The first thing is, don’t diet, although these foods may feel like you can’t manage them, there is a rebellious teenager inside of all of us, and as soon as you say, “You can’t have it,” we want it more.
As we see in Thursday Therapy 4, we call this the Forbidden Fruit Effect. So we don’t want to start with an approach to managing your sugar that’s actually going to make you want it more.
The second thing is, you’re really going to want to get that food out of the house. As we saw in episode 31, when food is present, when it’s available, when it’s visible, when it’s proximal, meaning that it’s close to us, we’re more likely to eat it.
Now, this doesn’t mean if you get the food out of the house that you’ll never have it again. What it means is that the default goes from, “It’s right there, I’ll have it,” too, “It’s not, I won’t,” and with these foods often it is a matter of out of sight, out of mind.
Now, obviously this isn’t going to be the whole answer, but if you feel like there’s an addiction going on, being free of that food and having the house free of that food for a period of time can really break those neuronal connections, and allow you to come back to it in a more moderate way later on.
The third thing that I want you to reflect on is, if there’s any emotional component to your desire for sugar. Research suggests that this is the case for up to 80% of people. If you are one of those people, you’re going to need to address that because otherwise the sugar cravings are going to keep coming back, not because you need the sugar, but because you need the change in feelings that the sugar gives you.
So of course, unpacking emotional eating is quite a task, so I’m going to give you a link to one of my videos on that, that also has a link to a couple of blogs, so you can start to address that if you’re one of these people.
The fourth thing that I want you to apply to your desire for sugary foods is of course, mindful eating. Now, sometimes we’re not eating sugar because we’re rebelling against not being allowed it. We’re not eating it just because it’s there, and we’re not really going to enjoy it. We’re not eating our feelings by eating sugar, we’re just eating it because it’s yum, we like the taste, the texture, and the experience.
The cool thing is though, if you can recognise in real time that you’re really just craving that taste, the feel, that psychological experience, you don’t actually need a lot of food then, what you need to do is you need to pay your food a lot of attention. Eat it really mindfully. Eat it slowly and savour it.
If you savour your sugar like a Zen master drinks tea, you’re going to end up tasting it a whole lot more, and eating a whole lot less. In fact, this works especially well with sugar, sometimes if you pay a lot of attention to it, it becomes a bit sickly, and you actually want to stop a lot sooner. So again, mindful eating is a big area. We’re going to provide you some links so you can go and sort of dig a bit deeper down the rabbit hole.
Guys, I know I’m giving you a lot of links, but my videos are really helpful. I’ve got so many now that I’ve got clients who come in, and they’ve watched half of my videos, read a few of my blogs, and they’ve literally done a massive chunk of the therapy for me.
The final thing that I want you to check out is the weird therapies, tapping and hypnosis. Now, these are actually my go tos for powerful sugar cravings, and while they might seem a bit different, they often work better than what we normally do.
They actually both fit in perfectly with what we know about how sugar cravings happen in the brain and in the mind. So with hypnosis we know that a lot of these sugar cravings are powerful emotional, unconscious responses, and with hypnosis we can tap into and transform what’s going on in the unconscious.
We also have some research to show that tapping actually turns off that emotional, addictive loop in the brain. So it’s pretty powerful stuff, although they might seem a little bit different to you. So we’re going to provide some links on our website to both tapping and hypnosis that includes some videos, some research, and a little bit more info for you.
So guys, I know I’ve set you a tonne of homework today, but I really want you to transform, and I really want to support you to transform this year. So please get into it, and there really is no doubt in my mind that if you follow these ideas through you will overcome powerful desires for sugar.
I see this all the time in my work with clients. They come in, they’re kind of hoping that I can help, but deep down thinking, “No, there’s no answer for me.” We follow these five tips, and these are my best tips, I don’t save anything for my clients. We do the work, and we get to the other side. So really go down the rabbit hole, explore each of the points that you need to, and you will overcome these sugar cravings.
So thanks for being with me for another Thursday Therapy. Of course, subscribe for more Thursday Therapy and for Secrets of the Success Stories, and I will see you really soon.