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Why The Holidays Kickstart A Biological Sugar Craving

At this time of year, temptation is all around.

It can be hard to say no to the lovely gifts at work or from clients, the sharing tins of chocolates and the festive indulgences.

However, over the festive season, you may notice that it’s no longer about resisting these sugary/high carb snacks. Instead, it might feel more like a sugar craving. So, what’s really going on in the body when this happens?

It Can Start With Emotional Eating

While it is considered a happy time of year, it can also be hugely stressful. From ensuring perfection to managing relations, the cost of the season and the busy diary, not to mention the emotional turmoil of a pandemic, there are many reasons why people reach out for comfort food at this time of year.

The Idea Of Treats

Many of the foods we see during the holidays are considered as treats. The idea of treats creates a neurological link between these sweets and snacks and feeling good. We often see treats as a pick-me-up, positivity and can be seeking a food memory of the last time food made us feel happy.

However, what we class as a treat, isn’t actually a treat for our system. These high sugar, low nutrition snacks often don’t do anything positive for our bodies and can kickstart a biological sugar craving.

Kickstarting A Biological Sugar Craving

When we consume sugary snacks through a place of comfort, we receive a temporary high. For a very short while, it provides comfort, happiness, and the brain’s reward centre recognises this sweet treat as pleasure. This reward centre then produces the neurotransmitter dopamine, which makes us feel good, but also makes this feeling addictive.

When we consume treats for the dopamine hit, we have started a craving cycle. What’s more, the more we feed this cycle, the shorter the dopamine hit lasts. As a result, we can end up increasing sugar consumption in order to get the same happiness hit.

At this time of year, when there are treats all around, it is no surprise we end up in a cycle of sugar craving.

The Craving Cycle

When we consume high sugar/high carb food, we begin the rollercoaster. It starts with the dopamine pleasure but then causes blood sugar levels to fluctuate too. With huge highs and lows for your blood sugar, you can feel drained, lacking in energy, causing you to eat more sugary foods, which can fuel the addiction and cause weight gain and health issues.

High sugar consumption can lead to:

  • A need to graze or constantly snack
  • Mood swings with fluctuating blood sugar
  • Increase need for more sweet food
  • Inflammation and joint pain
  • High glucose can cause confusion and mental fog
  • Gut discomfort and affect your gut microbiome
  • Poor sleep, hunger at night and feeling exhausted
  • Weight gain and feeling unhealthy.

How To Break The Sugar Craving Cycle

If you’re reaching for the sugary snacks, there are a few things you can do

  1. Look at how you’re feeling – are you reaching out for food to make you feel happier? What else could provide that happiness? Could you call a friend, go for a walk or do anything else to create that same feeling?
  2. Fill up on protein – Sugar cravings can increase the hunger hormone, so if you are reaching for sugar out of a hunger response, try to eat a protein-rich meal that helps you feel full and may prevent the sugar cycle.
  3. Reframe treats – When we use the word treats, it makes us feel good. What healthy snacks can you consider treats, and how can you stop seeing sweets as a treat?
  4. Boost your dopamine – Did you know achieving goals, practising meditation and being grateful can all boost your dopamine levels without a sugar craving in sight!
  5. Seek help – If you’re looking to stop the sugar cycle for good, then hypnotherapy can help. To find out how hypnotherapy can help you control sugar consumption, book your free consultation with me by emailing info@hypnosis-in-london.com.
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