These next couple of blogs are part of the series of common nutritional and emotional mistakes people often make in the logistics of losing weight. Today’s focus is on candy craving.
There are times during the day when the brain just stalls and candy cravings call. It gets fixated on something or quits making any creative breakthroughs. That’s when the ole candy dish starts to look mighty fine….and if you grew up on the 70’s you might hum that jingle “sometimes you feel like a nut, sometimes you don’t” and reach into that bowl for something chocolotey, coconutty and chewy. Maybe some of you have been disciplined enough to still have some of your Halloween candy (or maybe you just stocked up when they went down 50% the next day). So you open that piece of candy either from home, at work or in your car and you pop it in your mouth. Mmmmm. Can you taste it? Bursting with flavor, little crunchy, little chewy, little chocolatey. All kinds of sensations and textures filling every corner of your mouth. You’re in heaven. You just got that initial pick-me-up feeling.
Mintel’s report on Snacking Motivations and Attitudes US 2015 found that many people are snacking in order to satisfy a craving or improve work focus. But what you choose to snack on can either be a pick-me-up and keep me up, or a pick-me-up followed quickly by a put-me down kind of feeling. My goal is to help you see how eating soda, cookies, candy or some other sugary snack is just a short-term fix, only for that mouth-filling moment, and then poof, it’s gone and you’re tired.
Candy Cravings, A Pick-Me-Up or Put-Me-Down
Feeling tired or unproductive at work is a frustrating feeling. Add time pressure and boredom with a task and you have a magic recipe for a candy craving. It seems logical that candy does rev us up, giving us all kinds of energy immediately, but you have to understand what comes next. All that extra sugar tells the pancreas to make extra insulin which then causes our blood sugars to crash. Soda, cookies, fruit snacks and other sweets do the same thing. That’s what makes us tired – the fluctuation in blood sugar – especially from a candy craving.
Discretionary Calories, Not Much Room For Candy Cravings
Discretionary calories are the “fun” calories we should only eat after we’ve eaten the nutrient rich foods our body needs. For a 2000 calorie diet it amounts to about 200 calories for a sedentary individual a day. They include the sugar in coffee, the wine with dinner, the candy for the afternoon pick-me-up. The governor in our brain should say, “hold on, will your day’s worth of food look anything like the menu above?” Are your candy and cookie choices using up the calories your body really needs to deal with the daily attack by cancer-causing cells, building the good HDL to fight off the artery-narrowing bad LDL, wearing out your pancreas and leading you to type 2 diabetes, or aggravating inflammatory conditions like rheumatoid arthritis? How is that short-term candy craving fix really serving you? If you really want that candy, save it as a reward after you’ve eaten what your body really needs and then go for a walk.
Cravings Pass And There Are Better Foods To Improve Focus
That afternoon lull might really be a sign of boredom, tiredness or need for brain stimulation. Changing your scenery, talking to someone, doing a brain teaser or doing a different task might be what your brain really needs. If you need a pick-me-up to really improve focus, choose something from the menu example above to check off some of those nutrients your body really needs and save those discretionary calories for later. If your mouth still really wants that candy delay it by then first get a cup of tea, talking to someone and then see if you still really want that candy. Cravings pass and will power gets stronger, one craving at a time.