Sugar is big nutrition news these days, and sugar addiction is getting the attention it deserved a long time ago when only a few nuts (like yours truly) were talking about it.

I searched recently for the mainstream “wisdom” on getting rid of sugar cravings. The suggestions I found display a poor understanding by the various authors of what makes us crave sugar.

Below are some of those suggestions, and why I doubt their effectiveness. Of course, almost everything will work for some people, but as a rule, these aren”™t things I”™d recommend to my clients.[wlm_private 'PRO-Platinum|PRO-Monthly|PRO-Gratis|PRO-Seasonal|Platinum-trial|Monthly-trial|PRO-Military|30-Days-of-PRO|90 Day PRO|Stages-Instructor|Schwinn-Instructor|Instructor-Bonus|28 Day Challenge']

  • Turn your attention to something else. This approach is a good match for the next one on the list.
  • Change the scenery & take a walk. Whoever proposed these two solutions thinks cravings are “all in your head”, so the solution must be to focus your thoughts on something else.
  • Talk to a friend. If you believe that a sugar craving is an emotional phenomenon, this suggestion seems reasonable. It”™s less reasonable if you look at the physiological side of cravings.
  • Meditate. If you think cravings are the result of a way of thinking or feeling, or a result of stress, this may seem reasonable. And it can change brain chemistry, so it could work.
  • Avoid stress. Of course, that sounds fantastic. Who wouldn”™t want to avoid stress? But it”™s not always realistic. Besides, what if you”™re already stressed? What do you do then?

This advice also doesn”™t distinguish a craving from the urge to eat. That urge to eat when stressed may actually be an inborn reaction. Even animals do it. It”™s not always the same thing as a craving.

  • Drink water. This is ALWAYS good advice. But a craving isn”™t necessarily the result of dehydration. Thirst can be mistaken for hunger, and, apparently, the urge to eat is sometimes mistaken for a craving (see “Avoid stress” above). But they”™re not really the same.

The following suggestions might be effective temporarily, but could backfire in the long run.

  • Eat a little of the craved food, then divert your attention. This shows a misunderstanding of the neurochemical effects of sugar. Yes, eating sugar will take away the craving — after all, you”™re eating what you craved. But it will probably come back later with a vengeance. And if you eat sugar and the craving goes away, why would you even need to turn your attention to something else?
  • Eat the craved food, then something healthful. Sorry, you”™ll never convince me that sugar cravings will be “cured” by eating sugar plus kale. The craving will return big-time later, and the sugar may make kale (or other healthful food) seem unappealing.
  • Eat a decadent, delectable version of the craved food and savor it. How slowly and voluptuously you eat the food has nothing to do with eliminating the craving. Eating sugar will always stop a sugar craving — but that”™s short-term at best.
  • Eat fruit. As if fruit isn”™t sugar. If you recognize that it is, this suggestion is the same as the rest of the food suggestions above.

My recommendation is to treat a craving like what it truly is: a neurochemical phenomenon. Since it”™s neurochemical, it”™s physiological. Would we tell someone to get rid of the flu by changing the scenery? By diverting her/his attention? Those are good things to do, but they might not be an effective answer to a physiological problem.

In a previous post, the causes of sugar cravings were described, and all were neurochemical.

Addressing neurochemistry may be a better way to fix a neurochemical problem. Use liquid B-complex, suggested in a previous post, for short-term relief. (It really works.) Change your diet for a long-term cure. (It really works.) Get a coach for ongoing support, because those two suggestions can be easier said than done.

Coaching really works.[/wlm_private]

Joan Kent

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