Sunday 1 September 2013

F**k the diet and pass me the chocolate - breaking the sugar crave cycle

I started this blog post 7 times all opening with piss poor justifications for eating such a poor diet and barely training of late, all i was doing was hiding behind excuses for what is really just a piss poor attitude and lack of motivation, well it's actually more that i have just been really busy and my focus has been elsewhere, i am far from lazy. Although at the moment i cannot be bothered to train and no way do i have the motivation to prepare all of my meals for the next day or even week. The thought of writing myself a diet out to stick to, well that would take time away from doing what i really love doing at the moment, working on my businesses and that's just not going to happen.

Luckily for me though, i at least have the knowledge to pick the 'better' option when i am on the go, i'm not easily fooled by poor labelling on foods so i can, when i feel like it go for the healthier option and even get close to my daily macronutrient requirements (i rarely do though).

On top of being so busy i have been away for a couple of weekends, where i have used the excuse of being away as a reason for over indulging. So as you can see there has been accumulation of poor dietary habits creeping in and in truth now taking over. Diet starts Monday though, right?! No, definitely not. That's not how you undo a poor diet and lack of exercise.

Everyone has triggers and it's understanding those that leads to addressing them in the right way to make realistic and attainable changes which will not easily be undone. While i cant (dont have the time to) identify every trigger and offer up ways around them all i have put a list of ways you can start to take back control of your cravings and move towards eating and feeling better.

My approach to nutrition with clients is always two-fold, firstly i look for quick wins and secondly once i have identified these i look at how they can be used without damaging the long terms goals. So currently i am stuck in a rut of eating on the go with some very strong sugar/carb cravings (lets not forget the power of sugar addiction which i am feeling the full force of currently). To simply start a new diet full of healthy foods and hit the gym is a recipe for failure, it then becomes a viscous cycle of failed attempts as life gets in the way and feeling bad at my failures. It is at this point that many people develop strong connections with food and begin comfort eating, seeking comfort in the foods they want to move away from (shit this is starting to get deep now)

I simply cannot go on as i am though, accepting it is poor is not enough, it needs to change as i am noticing my energy levels are suffering, my sleep is more disrupted and my digestive system feels like it's taking a hammering with all the junk. Basically i am currently on a roller coaster of insulin spikes and i'm starting to feel run down, at a time when i need to be efficient and working at full capacity.

So how do you break the cycle of eating crap and not training? Well firstly you accept what's realistic and what is not. As stated simply jumping in to a completely different diet as well an intense training programme will result in you not getting the results you want.

What's needed is progressive changes, one's that you can make without feeling like you are depriving yourself, one's that don't make you feel like you're on a diet. My issues are centred around carbs and specifically sugar (Double Deckers mmmmm). Now this blog post is not all about the science, however it's important to realise it's not just about mind over matter but about biochemistry too (i wont go there just yet, thats an article for another day). This is why i dont believe in going cold turkey when it comes to dropping sugar, it can just be way too drastic for most people.

Here are the changes i recommend to kick the sugar cravings and get back to a healthier diet:

* eat more fruit - according to many (self proclaimed) expert 'nutritionalists' eating fruit is bad. It's not. end of. In fact the sugar from fruit is a very good replacement for sugary snacks, eating fruit also adds fibre to your diet so you'll be giving your digestive system a bit of a kick in the right direction too. Plus you'll be getting a big hit of micronutrients too, sugar in it's simplest form actually strips away nutrients in the body. Opt for sweeter fruits such as apples, bananas, mango and pineapple, these all do the trick for me.

* de-stress and make/take time to relax - how is this related to sugar and cravings you may ask, well it's pretty simple. When you're on the go all the time and you become hungry your body signals for quick energy, the quickest being... yes sugar and simple carbs. By de-stressing and taking time out to relax you take control of energy output and the mindset reliance on 'quick fix' foods. The same also applies to energy drinks too, these really are the devil.

* Become a hunter - seek out protein and make a point of looking for protein heavy meals. These will help fill you up for longer and change your mindset from carb conscious to protein hunter. Animal sources of protein are also preferential as the fats within these help feed the brain energy too. This is important to keep you focussed as when the brain becomes tired it craves quick energy in the form of glucose.

* Feed the brain - as stated in the last point when the brains gets tired it craves glucose, by feeding it a constnat supply of brain food greens, avocados, fish, eggs, nut butters etc you're stopping the drained neurotransmitters in the brain from screaming out for sugar. Point of note - sugar actually drains the brain of important mood dictating chemicals, this is the viscous cycle effect; you crave it, eat it, it drains your brain, your crave, eat it... rinse repeat

* carry snacks - these dont need preparation so there's no excuse really. bags of nuts, fruits, even boiled eggs can all be carried around easy enough. They're filling and healthy and when you get a sugar craving a handful of berries and nuts will definitely knock the craving out.

* dont drink your calories - this means dropping the soda and i would go as far as advising to avoid diet varieties too as these simply trick the body and brain in to thinking you're still giving it sugar. crushed berries in water is my preferred choice, it's like a real vitamin water that doesnt cost a ridiculous amount.

* which leads me nicely on to my last point, drink more water - when we're dehydrated the hunger/thirst signalling can some times become confused, when you're actually thirsty your body can be sending out the signal that you're hungry. So put a stop to this and aim for 30ml of water per kg of bodyweight per day, add another 500ml for each gym session you do a day.

As you can see these are all quick wins with longer term benefits. You'll eat more protein, more fruit, better fats, be more hydrated and have more time to relax. All of which lead to you feeling and performing better.

The next step after implementing those quick wins is to make sure i have no sugary sweet temptations in the house, so i best get eating the ben & jerry's phish food, double deckers, fruit & nut and 2l bottle of pepsi need to be smashed before i can progress....

Oh and before the internet guru's moan on about 'practising what you preach' there's more to life than telling everyone how amazingly disciplined you are, nobody actually believes you or even cares and it doesnt make you any better at your job!


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