by Marcelle Pick, OB/GYN NP
It’s that time of year again when it seems like sugar is everywhere. For some of us the push-and-pull of holiday sweets starts at Halloween and lasts all the way through until New Year’s Day — and it can feel like a wild rollercoaster ride. My patients often tell me they can’t wait to get off, but many aren’t quite sure how. Most women I talk with at the clinic and in my personal life have experienced sugar cravings, no matter what time of year — or time of the month. Whether it’s having a taste for something sweet after dinner each night or speeding to your local supermarket for the biggest bag of Swedish Fish you can buy, I know craving sugar can be a powerful urge. And the disappointing truth is that once we start to include sugar into our daily routine, it becomes more and more difficult to stop.
As humans we’ve evolved to appreciate the instant energy sugar provides us, but food is a highly emotional topic, especially when it comes to sweets. We often associate sweet foods with love and acceptance, and scientists have looked at our brain chemistry to understand how food can directly affect our “feel-good” neurotransmitters like serotonin. There are many other physical causes for sugar cravings, too, like hormonal fluctuations, intestinal yeast, and stress, to name a few.
Sadly, we’ve been told for far too long that indulging in sweets is connected with a lack of self-will or some other character flaw. This is just not true! Craving sugar is not simply about willpower, nor is it simply about emotions. There may be several underlying physiologic causes feeding your desire for sugar, and it may take some perspective and investigation to get to the bottom of it. Let’s take a closer look at what might be behind your sugar cravings and how you can develop a healthy, loving relationship with sweets.