"If you don't let yourself eat cookies once a week, you'll go crazy"! This is the statement I overheard a trainer at a gym (not the one I work at) tell a client who was interested in changing the way she eats. As I walked by, I was instantly frustrated and thought to myself, "what the heck are you doing saying something like that"?! I understand what she might have been trying to say or do, but her delivery was devastating. Without even realizing it, she has set this person up for failure before they even started.
I wondered why the statement upset me so much and I realized that it's because I run my practice trying to encourage people, and inspire them, to want to make the right choices. I teach them that they have complete control over the food they eat, and that food, nor their emotions, rule over them. When I heard that statement I couldn't help but think that even if that person had no desire to eat cookies, she probably will now because she was told she would go crazy if she didn't have them once a week.
When people are trying to lose weight, the last thing they need to hear is that they won't be able to go through something hard without failing. Yes, failure is almost always a part of your journey and isn't necessarily a bad thing, but to start off telling someone they'll go crazy by doing something that benefits them is poor practice, in my opinion. What this woman needed to hear was, "actually, the greater time you go without eating things like cookies and sweets, the more you'll lose the palate for them, and eventually they'll become undesirable". That's the truth.
If you find yourself eating loads of sugar, or high carb foods that turn into sugar, and can't seem to stop, can I let you in on a little secret? You don't lack will power, that's not your issue. The simple truth is that you're most likely just addicted to sugar. I tell my clients who want to lose weight, that they don't lack will power, and they aren't failures, they're just having a hormone response.
When sugars or high carb foods touch your tongue, there are massive hormonal signals going off. For instance, one hormone secreted when you eat sugar is serotonin, which is best known as the neurotransmitter that makes us feel good. Serotonin is also what most antidepressants alter to improve your mood and reduce levels of anxiety. Serotonin is also made from the essential amino acid tryptophan, and tryptophan needs insulin to help transport serotonin to the brain. And what gives us the greatest insulin spike that would allow for that serotonin to get to our hungry-for-love little brains? You guessed it, sugar.
Also, something very interesting to note, as stated by Dr. Marcelle Pick., OB/GYN NP, is that beta endorphins are also released when we eat sugar, causing a "high" that actually acts as a natural painkiller. So I guess that begs the question, is it that we truly lack will power or can't deal with our emotions, and that's why we turn to sugar, or do we eat sugar because we've simply just been eating sugar already, and chemically it feels good? In terms of disordered eating patterns that have been the result of traumatic life events, yes, we consume food in response to those situations on a subconscious level, but make no mistake, there are also things going on in your internal world when you consume sugar that makes us feel good or that takes the pain away temporarily. Sugar is highly addictive, and it will keep you wanting more on so many different levels.
The problem isn't you, the problem is the food you are choosing eat. You can be the strongest willed person in the world, but if you are eating foods that spike your blood sugar all day, you are still going to gain weight and crave those foods. Try to choose foods that are low on the glycemic index, with numbers 50 or lower, eat a healthy amount of proteins and fats from things like avocados, coconut oil, and raw nuts, and stay away from sugar laden food products. The longer you don't eat sugar, the more you just won't want it. I promise that after you get over your sugar addiction, you will feel 100 times better than you have ever felt before, and not that you'll go crazy if you don't have it.