First, let me be clear. When I talk about high fat sugary foods today, I’m NOT talking about healthy high fat foods like avocados, raw nuts and seeds, or coconut milk. If you craved these foods every day, well, you’d probably have some very odd nutritional deficiency but you’d also likely enjoy great skin, almost no hunger between meals, and amazing sleep.
But, that type of fat is best left to another post…
The Science Behind Your Cravings
Science is always exciting, right? Well, maybe not, but this science might be extra intriguing once you understand what’s going on inside your body. Your cravings for high fat sugary foods isn’t just your willpower taking a very long nap.
Actually, when you crave high fat sugary foods, this is a strong indication that your body is a wee bit messed up. Specifically, your blood sugar is out of whack. AND your stress hormones are not playing nice.
When you eat high fat sugary foods, your body breaks them down quickly into sugars or glucose. This glucose hits the bloodstream, signalling the release of insulin from your pancreas.
Insulin’s job is to move that glucose out of your cells as quickly as possible. Because blood glucose is actually inflammatory.
So, insulin tries to move this glucose into muscle and liver cells first, or whatever cells need energy. When those cells have had enough, the rest is shunted into fat cells for storage.
Then, an hour or two later, you start to crave high fat sugary foods again. Even though you don’t think you’re actually hungry.
This happens because that quick release of energy into the blood caused the quick removal of glucose out. And it left nothing behind to circulate to feed your cells as they used up the energy they got from that first high fat sugary food.
So, your body again wants quick energy…and you crave high fat sugary foods again.
High Fat Sugary Foods and Stress
You may have noticed that you crave high fat sugary foods when you’re stressed out. How often have you turned to ice cream, pasta or doughnuts when you’re sad or mad or frustrated? I know I sure have!
This is because your main stress hormone, cortisol, tells your liver and muscles to convert their stored energy back into glucose. That glucose hits the blood, insulin comes along and removes it, and your body is left without enough energy (or so it thinks).
Bring on the cravings!
There is also evidence that high fat sugary foods trigger your happiness center in your brain, which may be another reason you want carbs and sugar when you’re sad.
They’re called comfort foods for a reason!
Stop the Vicious Cycle
So, if you were paying attention, a high-stress lifestyle can cause a continuous need for high fat sugary foods.
And, eating high fat sugary foods actually triggers cravings for more and more and more.
It’s almost like, once you start, you can’t stop! Which is kind of true – if you don’t nip these cravings in the bud now, you may not be able to stop.
Because it’s really all about eating a LOT of quick burning energy foods at once, the trick to overcoming these cravings is to slow down the digestion of your food.
And to do this, you need to increase your consumption of healthy fats and healthy protein. Ideally, pair any high fat sugary foods with healthy fat and / or protein to help slow down the digestion of the carbs.
For example, enjoy your jelly beans with a couple of handfuls of raw nuts. Add nuts and ground seeds to your ice cream. Have a piece of chicken with your doughnut (okay, maybe not)!
Even eating plain old fruit by itself, which we know is a healthy food, can spike insulin and cause continuous cravings for high fat sugary foods. So, eat your apple with almond butter or your grapes with walnuts.
Cravings for high fat sugary foods are common but they can be eliminated. For real!
I’ve seen it happen with dozens of clients and know that weaning myself off straight-up high fat sugary foods helps to reduce cravings.
Another option is cold turkey – ditch the high fat sugary foods for good. Just make sure to drink tons of water and push yourself through the sugar detox phase.