Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Weight Loss Success, a Big Sweet Tooth, Depression and Cravings

I had to write more about the recent study I read that showed a link between a preference for sweet tastes and depression and/or alcoholism. (If you haven't read yesterday's post, then you might want to read that before you read this one.)

This study really struck a chord with me...I know that one of the reasons I packed on pounds was because I chose to eat rather than face and express my emotions. And I know I am not alone in that department.

I've also been learning about how important it is to keep our brain chemistry balanced in order to function at our best. By keeping our hormones balanced we are less apt to go into depression...and, is it ironic that we also suffer from fewer cravings?

One of the reasons we eat sugars...whether that is actually sugar in the form of sweets, ice creams, cookies, candy, or sugars in the form of simple carbohydrates like pasta, bread and the because they make us feel good. At least in the short-term. Generally when we grab that feel-good food we don't think about--or don't care--about the consequences...that we are going to have the sugar crash later. Some of us just keep eating the sugars so we never have to feel the crash.

I don't know if I reached for treats to soothe my feelings because from early on I recognized that it felt good...or if there was some genetic switch that got triggered that caused me to crave them more and more. Which came first? Did one cause the other?

What I do know is that relying on foods to help me get "high" did not help me in the long run. Not only did I not learn how to deal with my emotions, I also got fat...and on top of THAT, I had the privilege of feeling bad about myself because I thought I had no willpower...that I was weak.

I do not believe that this study indicates that some kids are destined to become fat, or alcoholic, or depressed. I believe that we have so much more power over our lives than that. Does it mean that we might have some challenges that other people don't face. Sure...but that does not to limit us, nor does it have to identify us.

Perhaps we can use a preference for sweets as a flag...if I want something sweet, is it possible that I have waited too long to eat healthy foods and therefore my brain is simply sending out a signal that it needs sugar? If I prefer to eat something sweet when I am sad, this could be an indication that I need to get more serotonin, or dopamine or endorphins...the "feel good" chemicals our bodies love and what are other ways to get those chemicals? Exercise is one way.

We can't just stop eating...we have to eat in order to live...but we don't have to live to eat....on the other hand we don't have to constantly deprive ourselves to be thin--cuz that is no life!

If we have a mindset that we are predestined to be fat, or that we always crave sugar, or that we have a problem with food...or whatever message we have gotten about food and our long as we have that mindset, we will have a real challenge to losing weight.

So don't beat yourself up for liking sweets...don't chastise yourself if you have a dessert (and Heaven forbid, you actually enjoy it!)...instead, shift your mindset. Learn to think like a naturally thin person. Start to believe that you can eat and be healthy. Know that you can be aware of what you eat and when you eat...and that you can consciously make a decision about whether you want to make that choice today, this minute.

Dieting is hard because it only addresses the food...the calories in and out. Changing our eating habits is more about our mindset than the actual food. And changing those eating habits is much easier to do when we change our thinking first!

Decide that you CAN eat healthily...and that you deserve health. Know that you FEEL so much better when you fuel your body with healthy foods...foods that nourish you. Come from that perspective and you will find a big reduction in your sugar cravings and a big reduction in your waistline, too!

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