Back when we humans were fighting for survival against the odds, anything sweet meant lots of lovely carbohydrates to store up against potential famine just around the corner.
And bear in mind that famine was an ongoing threat – it’s only relatively recently in evolutionary terms that shops bursting with cheap, calorie-crammed food have been available on every corner most of the hours of the day and the night.
So we’re programmed to go for sweet, and this is especially evident in stressful situations where our inner cave person takes over and prompts us into survival behavior. Even those of us who don’t really have much of a sweet tooth under usual circumstances might find ourselves unaccountably tackling the chocolate biscuits when the pressure’s on….
What’s more, if you’re a little lacking in the sleep department your body interprets this as a source of danger and bumps up your carbohydrate requirements. Sleep-deprived fridge raiders will readily identify this urge.
So when food companies want to sell lots of their wares, they are aware that they are more likely to do so if the sweetness is there to tickle our taste buds. This (and the fact that sugar is a good and cheap preservative) is the reason so many foods you think are savory (baked beans, jars of pasta sauce) are chock-full of the sweet stuff.
A spoonful of sugar helps the fat cells get around
The problem is that clearly we, here in Canada, are rarely facing famine. Not real week-in, week-out, nothing in the larder famine. And in fact we often take in a heap more calories than we really need, given the energy we use up.
We no longer have to fight or dig for our food. The closest we get to burning up energy running after our food is chasing the ice cream van down the street.
So the famine-mode is outmoded for many of us. This means thinking about cutting back on our sugar intake and our refined carbs (white flour, white pasta, white bread and rice) and giving our pancreas some time off.
If turning a deaf ear to the child-catcher and all his sugary-treat promises is a problem for you, try the following:
- Investigate dried fruit. Dates, figs, unsulphured apricots, luscious sultanas and raisins, currants and mango – these are all little sweet pieces of mineral-filled heaven, full of gut-friendly fibre and very hard to overdose on because they’re so satisfyingly filling. You may find that a handful of dried fruit is an acceptable exchange for your daily chocolate-based snack.
- Drink water instead of fruit juices. Drink at least 1.5 liters of water daily. If you prefer a more tangy drink, add Molkosan or Molkosan Berry to your water, as a sugar-free alternative.
- Take a course of Helianthus to even out your carbohydrate metabolism and make your meals keep you going for longer. You’re less likely to feel hungry in between meals.
- Try taking 200mcg chromium (available in health stores) with each meal, as this often reduces sugar cravings.
It’s not a case of never having anything sweet again, but more about asking yourself a few questions when the urge takes you:
- Would some fruity delightfulness do you instead?
- Is it easier to avoid biscuit-based indulgence if you don’t have as many cups of tea?
- Are there danger times such as evening television watching, when some alternative distraction might help you avoid unnecessary chomping?
It’s your body, and it might be time to bring it out of the cave.