Our bodies really try very hard to communicate their needs to us. They make us feel thirsty when we are dehydrated, hungry when we need energy, tired when we need sleep. That's how we know exactly what we need to stay healthy and happy.
But seriously folks….
Actually, why doesn't it work like that?
It would make so much sense. Why on earth do our bodies push us to do things that are unhealthy?
Well, they don't, exactly. The problem for most of us is we were never taught to understand or communicate with our bodies, or even that this is a thing that needs to be learned.
How weird is that, really? We know it takes training to speak to and understand a person with a brain just like ours who happens to speak a different language, but expect to correctly parse everything a body made of meat tries to tell us first try?
Interesting, but how is this relevant to the title of this post?
When I told a friend I quit eating sugar, (except for social events), she immediately asked how I did it. She wanted to know how I resisted eating sugar despite craving it, because that was what she struggled with. I told her I didn't fight the cravings. If I craved sugar, I let myself have it. I just do my best to make sure I don't feel the need for sugar.
The trick to stopping cravings is making sure the body has what it needs.
Over 32 years I seem to have succeeded in working out all the various needs that my body tries to communicate through the feeling that my brain understands as sugar cravings. There actually aren't too many of these problems:
- Lack of sleep
- Emotional stress
- Lack of protein
If nothing on this list is currently a problem, I just don't feel the desire for sugar.
Lack of sleep
Causes the body to seek out alternative sources of energy in order to function. One on the many, many, many reasons getting seven to nine hours sleep a night is a prerequisite for healthy weight loss.
When I told my acupuncturist two months after my mother died that I was still eating chocolate at least three times a day he said "That's fine, clearly that means you still need it, so it's good you have it." Two weeks later I told him I hadn't had sugar for a whole week, and he said "That's fine, so you don't need it anymore."
The sugar-stress connection isn't a complete coincidence. Chinese medicine associates each emotion with a flavor of food, and vice versa. Sweet is the flavor that calms worry and overthinking.
Lack of protein
For as long as I can remember, if I am missing anything in my diet, I feel a craving for sweets. It took me a really long time to work out that when I am craving sweet and eating sweet foods only makes it worse, I am actually low on protein. I have been working to retrain myself to recognize what my body is actually looking for based on the information it is able to give me, and this is definitely one of the things that has made the biggest difference in my quality of life.
What about you?
When you feel the need for sugar, do you know what your body is trying to tell you?
Hi! I’m Havva Mahler, a practitioner of Chinese medicine: acupuncture, Chinese herbs, tuina, reflexology, sotai and massage and a lifestyle, motivation and nutritional consultant. You can normally find me at my clinic in Be’er Sheva or Sderot, or reading something about health and/or motivation. If you would like to read more random health and wellness related shit sign up here to get the next blog post delivered to your inbox.