Cookies, cakes, and ice cream are everywhere. We are all bombarded by them on television and social media through posts and pins. They can make us feel better, while we eat them, but can quickly turn into a self-loathing experience. Been there, done that. So let’s look at why. Sugar stimulates the brain chemical called Serotonin. Increased levels of Serotonin make us feel better. If you know anything about the treatment of depression, many current medications for depression target Serotonin receptors in the brain and increase these levels. It is possible to see why those feeling “blue” or sad crave sugar. There are also studies that show exercise also increases Serotonin and other brain chemistry translating into a happier mood.
Here are some that work.
- Do not go to a party hungry, have a small healthy snack before you go.
- Eat regularly. Skipping meals can cause one to reach for a quick sweet.
- Give yourself permission, to have a small treat instead of eliminating it entirely. For example, a small slice of cake or a bite size candy that is about 150 calories.
- Keep sugar-free gum or candy with you to curb your craving.
- If you feel a strong urge, take a walk.
- Say to your family or friends that you are trying to eliminate sugar and ask them to respect that and not offer sugary desserts, foods, or drinks. Say to them you need and appreciate their support.
- Look at labels. Many processed foods have lots of sugar and try to decrease your consumption of processed foods and look for alternatives.
- Importantly, have a plan. If you are going to a party, plan that you will fill your plate with proteins, vegetables, and fruit. If your plan is to have a small dessert, it is ok, but limit it and enjoy it. Have a buddy at the party for support.
- On Halloween, choose a candy that you do not like. Better yet, give out bags of pretzels or popcorn. It is better for you and better for the trick or treaters.
Without sounding like a broken record; get moving. Exercise does make you feel better. Set some realistic goals for yourself and confidently walk past the sweet table!