Cravings. We all have them.

Food cravings are a common response to what we’re going through and can cause the desire to munch on foods we wouldn’t normally eat, such as salty potato chips or sweet chocolate brownies. Studies have shown that cravings for certain foods come from a variety of reasons, including memories, emotions, weather and stress.

Ignoring that voice inside your head calling for something sweet isn’t always easy! In the moment, getting a sugar fix might feel like it will satisfy your needs, but giving into processed sugary food often leads to further cravings and overindulging.

The question “is sugar addictive?” comes up quite often and studies shows that the link between sugar and addictive behaviour is tied to the fact that, when we eat sugar, opioids and dopamine are released. When a certain behaviour causes an excess release of dopamine, you feel a pleasurable “high” that you are inclined to re-experience, and so repeat the behaviour

So before diving head first into that cookie jar, try these suggestions:

Deconstruct your craving
Ask yourself, am I craving this chocolate or am I actually hungry or thirsty? Is it just a temporary desire? Are you lacking something in your life and filling the void with food? Instead of immediately giving in and reaching for a sweet, deconstruct what your body is truly telling you and decide what will fulfil it. Emotions can lead to crave something your body doesn’t actually want or need.

Take a step back
Seeing the grocery store shelves stocked with colourful bags of candy that remind you of childhood can cause your brain to think it’s something you want. But in reality, before you walked down that aisle, you had no desire for candy at all. Take a moment to be mindful about what you are yearning for and to understand your craving before you grab that big bag of sugar. Typically, when you take the time to reassess what your mind and body are telling you, you’ll have a better understanding of what you really want. Personally, I avoid the sweets isles (unless dark chocolate is on my shopping list, then I make a quick stop)

Opt for naturally sweet foods
Instead of tearing open a candy bar or taking a cookie (or two) that your coworker shared, soothe your cravings with more wholesome options. If you know you have a sweet tooth and a hard time resisting a craving, keep fruit or dark chocolate made with 80% cacao or more on hand. This way, it’ll be easier to make the better choice towards a healthy sweet snack.

Enjoy it – in moderation
If you have a continuous craving for something but have been resisting it, allow yourself to enjoy it in moderation. If a craving is constantly ignored, it can lead to giving in and overconsuming it eventually. Listen to your body and know that it’s okay to enjoy something you’re craving without overindulging.

In the end, it is all about a healthy balance.