Thursday, February 10, 2011

Bountiful Bite: The Sugar Craving Monster

I work part-time in a bookstore. For the past two months I've watched dozens of diet books practically fly themselves out the door, along with carb counters, vegan cookbooks, and exercise manuals promising to give women flat tummies and guys six-pack abs. It's hard not to be a cynic and wonder how many new year's resolutions to be thinner and more robust will blow away with the first spring breeze.
"Thousands of Resolutions, Killed by Junk Food Cravings
and Lack of Consistent Dietary Advice" at 10.

On Valentine's Day I plan to eat a cupcake (with a glass of soymilk and no guilt). Yep folks, it's a cruel world out there. My housemate is Chinese. She rarely wants to eat desserts or sweet treats. She has a dislike for cheese. Is she "dieting"? Nope. Is she thin and healthy? You bet. Cruel world? Maybe not.

Maybe there's a perfectly good explanation for her lack of cravings, and it's not that "she's Asian." What happens to make us crave chocolate and other sugary snacks? Basically, our insulin or serotonin levels drop, or we are thirsty or fatigued, or our hormones go wacky (out of balance). According to one dietitian, when we crave sugar we're actually craving the micro nutrients found in fruit!**

So, why doesn't my Chinese housemate have these cravings?
She usually gets a good night's rest. At every meal, she has rice or noodles, a protein or two, and a vegetable or two. Occasionally she'll have toast for breakfast, with unsweetened peanut butter. In between she "snacks" mostly on green tea, water, fruit and a few nuts. Are we going to eat exactly like her this year? Probably not. But there are some hints we can take... I've snooped around on the net for "stop sugar cravings" and found suggestions, that fit in with her way of eating. Guess what, she follows the first four suggestions without thinking about it. I think I might be having an "Aha! moment".

Craving Sugar? Here are some of the more popular suggestions.
  1. Drink water or unsweetened tea. You might actually be a bit dehydrated.
  2. Have a little protein with breakfast, and every snack. (Egg, fish, or milk, soy milk, nuts or cheese, or even a couple oz. of meat)
  3. Don't start your day with something sugary. Read the nutrition labels on ALL your breakfast choices!
  4. Eat enough. It may seem obvious, but if you short-change yourself with doll-size portions of pasta or broccoli, you'll just feel hungry before the next meal-time.
  5. Take a walk or run. (Raises serotonin levels).
  6. Distract yourself. Helloooo ' Angry Birds'!
  7. Wait 15 minutes, the craving might pass.
  8. Go public. Tell your coworkers you're laying off baked goods and candy because you feel better when you do. If you eat the cupcake, you'll have to eat your words.

I'm resolved to stick to these habits. Really. ... At least until Spring.