Wouldn’t you love to understand why you have a sugar addiction? Better yet, wouldn’t you love to learn how you can eliminate that sugar addiction and cravings? We can get addicted, and develop cravings for certain substances and foods for several reasons, and those cravings are usually not so easy to stop.
Marc David in his book “Nourishing Wisdom” tells a story about how he developed a specific craving while preparing for his master’s thesis on psychology and nutrition. He tells that during several months of intensive day and night writing, he would break at 6 each evening, drive to a local store , and purchase a pint of homemade vanilla ice cream and two bran muffins. This was all he ate for dinner each day. Soon enough he realized that he could not get through the day without his fix.
One day he tried an experiment. He decided to see what would happen if he did not give in to his craving. He describes how he sat on the couch, looked out the window, and agreed to stay there until the craving was gone. But the longer he sat, the stronger it grew, and the more convinced he became that he should end the experiment. But he decided to stay. He sat, took deep breaths, he watched his anxiety grow deeper, and as the overwhelming impulse to eat bran muffins and ice cream peaked, as the longing and pain consumed his entire body, he burst into tears, convulsed on the couch and sobbed uncontrollably.
Then he tells that he doesn’t know how long he sat and cried, but sometime later he was peaceful looking out the window, deeply relaxed and content. He tells that at that point bran muffins and ice cream seemed like a distant memory, that he had no desire for them, and that he hasn’t craved them since.
What happened with the craving, why did it go away?
In the same book, Marc suggests that there are 3 different kinds of cravings: Supportive, dispersive, and associative.
This one occurs when the body instinctively years for a food that enhances the healing process, fulfills a nutritional need, or neutralizes an imbalance in the body. It’s like when you crave oranges when you have a flu, or chocolate when you have PMS, because your magnesium levels are low and chocolate has a high concentration of this mineral.
This type of craving is a desire for a food that can have negative effects in the body, a food that drains your health and disperses your energy. Like a Sugar Addiction and cravings, the effects of yielding to this type of craving can be detrimental. Many of us crave foods that we know can harm us when eaten in excess like; sugar, alcohol, caffeine, etc.
Why is it that we can crave things that are beneficial for us, and also crave things that can harm us? Marc David explains that the difference lies in the nature of the yearning. Behind every human act, whether big or small, is a yearning for more; more meaning, more purpose, more love.
Through the many difficulties and obstacles we face, those yearnings can become distorted. A dispersive craving is a distorted yearning in the body. For example, the yearning for love might become a hopeless attempt to gain approval from everyone we meet.
The body also yearns, it yearns for food, water, touch, sound and sensuality. It yearns for aliveness through sweet things, tasty things, and whatever stimulates and excites the senses to a heightened experience of life.
Just as psychological yearnings become distorted, biological yearnings can too. THe body is fooled into thinking that excessive consumption of harmful substances would be helpful. THe body can be blind when confronted with powerful substances or experiences that promise fulfillment: alcohol, sugar and caffeine. THese substances seem to be the correct choices, but when we experience the negative consequences of overconsumption, we learn their true nature.
The third type of craving is Associative Cravings.
It occurs when we yearn for a food that has a rich, deep and meaningful association with our past. For example, when you visit your parents or grandparents and you suddenly crave things you used to like when you were a kid.
Associative cravings are difficult to deal with because we are uncertain whether they are beneficial or not. For instance, the foods we crave from our childhood may be of little nutritional value, yet eating them might bring such satisfaction and warm feelings that it might not be worth resisting.
The important thing is that the more we hold on to the belief that a food is bad, the less open we will be to assess the true nature of the situation.
Each craving has its own biochemical milieu, a network of reactions that encode in the body. For example, if you eat a certain type of treat, at a certain time every day for several months, your body’s bio computer would program itself for this event. THe sensory input and digestive responses would be habituated in the body. Should the food fail to appear, the body would miss it. Certain foods are more powerful and potentially addictive.
Every negative habit, and every dispersive craving has a similar neurological triggering process. When confronted with certain stimuli particularly negative or painful ones, we are automatically drawn to substances that we associate with alleviating the pain, and providing immediate pleasure like sugar, caffeine and alcohol.
THis is why habits and cravings are so difficult to deal with, they are encoded in the body and activated without conscious input.
The key to Stopping a sugar addiction or craving
Is to introduce and effective conscious intervention; like the “Holding technique”; which is what Mark did to breakthrough his craving for muffins and ice-cream.
The “holding technique” to stop sugar addiction and cravings.
According to Marc David, Is a method that allows you to move through a craving without yielding to it. It helps release the locked-in tension that intensifies a craving, and practiced overtime it re patterns neural messages in the body so that the pattern is no longer anchored in the body, and our dependency on the food disappears.
How to Practice the Holding Technique:
The next time your sugar addiction kicks in, and you feel an urge or craving for sugar or any other food really, that you know does not serve you, a desire you’d like to transform, try the simple steps of the holding technique.
Sit somewhere comfortable, breathe full deep breaths, and see what happens if you wait till the urge passes. It’s important to witness all the feelings, and physical sensations that arise without suppressing and fighting them. Experience them but don’t cater to them
When a craving arises, or when you are confronted with any difficult emotional experience, a part of you might believe that the pain will last forever. But you do survive, and the pain does subside. Yet next time a difficult situation occurs, you might forget again, and believe your discomfort to be eternal.
THe key is to trust that with patience and compassion, the pain will pass. We usually have a first reaction, and immediate response that is best not to act on. When you crave sugar, you first reaction is to reach for a piece of cake.
The purpose of the holding technique is to let the first reaction pass, so that you can see what lies beyond it. It’s not a one-shot deal that eliminates a craving or addiction every time. However, little breakthroughs can be made each time you allow yourself to breathe through a craving or any difficult situation. All you can do is witness, experience, and accept. Eventually the sugar addiction and craving will subside.
As an experiment choose a favorite or staple food that you eat every day (or almost every day) and don’t eat it for a week. Note any physical or emotional reactions.
where you’ll learn 4 different causes of sugar cravings and 10 more practices to help you eliminate your sugar addiction and cravings permanently, so they don’t sabotage your weight loss efforts.