When I’m stressed, I eat cake – or chocolate – or biscuits – anything with lots of sugar basically, or at least I used to. These days I’m a bit more clued up about WHY I want to shove that half eaten packet of chocolate buttons down y throat whenever the kids start whining, and so I find I’m better at choosing something else to help me manage my stress instead, something that’ll serve me better in the long run (not these delicious looking donuts).
For us mums, stress doesn’t always come in the form of the big, obvious stuff like a house move, a holiday (right?), or a difficult time at work. It can be much more subtle and pervasive than that. Chronic tiredness causes stress; sick, whingey children cause stress; marital difficulties (read, husband being a pain in the arse!!!!) cause stress; your dishwasher breaking down causes stress.
For me though, there are 2 particular times in every day that the pull of sugar is strongest. First comes the 4pm slump when I’m not only trying to prep dinner whilst dealing with grumpy, clingy, tired kids, but it’s also the time of day when my own energy is starting to flag so there’s a double whammy and I might find myself giving the children cucumber sticks while I sneakily munch on some chocolate fingers. The other tricky time is the evening, when all the stress and hurry of the day finally settles, the kids are in bed and I can finally enjoy that leftover piece of coffee cake that I found in my hand bag earlier (that and a glass of wine), in peace. Now don’t get me wrong, sitting down and enjoying a good piece of homemade cake or a cheeky mojito in the evening is a worthwhile pursuit. However, when you’re just scoffing bits of chocolate from the cupboard whenever the kids aren’t looking and barely noticing it yourself, then maybe it’s a habit worth breaking?! I’ve even been known to take 4 day old, stale, dry kid’s birthday cake out of the bin because there was nothing else in the house that would give me that 'hit', seriously what is WRONG with me?! So, anyway, if any of this behaviour sounds familiar, and it’s something you’d like to stop and/or if you’re one of those mamas who generally eats well, does a decent amount of exercise but finds you store a lot of fat on the belly, then this short, low tech, video I made, is definitely worth a watch (I’m sooo not techy sorry but the info is GREAT!)– after all, knowledge is power.
So, now you know WHY that pull of crappy food is so strong, and although there are many, many factors that can feed the overwhelming need for sugar eg other hormones; not eating enough of the stuff your body really needs; lack of sleep etc – I’m sure your life is at least sometimes touched by stress so take a look at my top tips for beating stress-related sugar cravings.
TOP TIPS TO BEAT STRESS RELATED SUGAR CRAVINGS
Get enough sleep.
Get some more sleep! I don't care how just do it.
Seriously look at your life and ask yourself, 'What can I get rid of?' (like actual possessions, negative people, negative thinking, doing too much etc), then get rid of them – and don’t be tempted to replace them.
Now look at your life and ask, 'What do I need more of?' What energises you and feeds your soul? For me it’s meditation, time on my own, laughter, good conversation and my work.
Next, examine your nutrition. Are you getting enough good energy in through the rest of the day? No, then make some changes. Increase your (c)lean protein at every meal and snack if need be. Add some more complex carbs and drop the rubbish. Add some healthy fats like avocadoes, oily fish or nuts.
In those acutely stressful situations when you feel drawn to the chocolate, push pause, remind yourself WHY that is (see video), take a moment to allow yourself those dark feelings – let them in, name them ‘anxiety, frustration, anger’. Be with those feelings then let them go and do or eat something else to replenish your energy.
If you’re doing all of this and still feel the need for sugar well, either get rid of it from the house, or have it but savour it, enjoy it and feel ok about it.
So that's it. Stress makes you want to eat more sugar and fat - you're not weak, you're not a failure, it's a normal, physiological response, but it's one that you can, at least sometimes, override.
Hope it helps.