Why I Couldn't Stop Eating Conversation Hearts

Valentine's Day reminds me of a time in my life when I couldn’t be left alone with a bag of conversation hearts without eating every single one of those pastel sugar bombs. And, thanks to handfuls of those cutely packaged Valentine’s Day mini candy bars, February afternoons at my corporate gig became much more bearable.
Of course, my wicked sweet tooth didn’t rear its demanding, insatiable head just in February. Bingeing on sugary treats was a year-round occurrence back then. Eating them made me feel alive when I felt dead inside from doing unfulfilling, uninspiring work.
The less alive I felt, the stronger my desire was for quick hits of intense food. When I flatlined, sugar was my lifeline.
A Symbolic Substitute
For many of us, sugar is a symbolic substitute for fulfillment and freedom. For others, it’s salty snacks, fatty foods, booze or pot. These things take us to a place where we can forget--albeit temporary--about the dissatisfaction and discomfort in our lives. We use them to leave ourselves when life gets hard.
It’s not that these things are necessarily bad, or that we’re bad people for consuming them, or that they shouldn’t be a source of pleasure. Challenges arise when we rely on them to fulfill a need they were never ever meant to fill.
If this sounds all too familiar, what steps--big and small--can you take to feel more alive in your day-to-day existence?
How can you infuse more vitality into the realms of your life that feel lackluster and lifeless, whether it’s work, relationships, intimacy, physical movement, spirituality, personal growth, creativity, etc.?
Take a minute to write down all the things that make you feel more alive. Don’t hold back. 
A few items on my list include: aligning my passions and values with my career, running at sunrise, re-centering at yoga, challenging my body with a new workout, walking with a friend, reading a captivating book, learning new ideas, hiking along the coast, planning trips, exploring foreign lands, losing myself in a creative project, helping others, and connecting with my coaching clients.
What makes you come alive?
Remember, food can fill you up, but it can’t fulfill you.
Although there are many reasons for cravings, once you start doing more things that make you feel truly alive, energized and free, it’s quite likely that your intense desire for chocolate, ice cream, cupcakes, chips, cheese, wine--whatever your fix may be--will start to dwindle. This has been true for me and for many of my clients. It certainly can be for you, too.


One Reason Why You Might Crave Sugar

Do you have a wicked sweet tooth?

There are many different reasons why you might crave sugar from a macronutrient imbalance, dehydration and sleep deprivation to caffeine consumption, suppressed emotions and a pleasure deficit.

After decades of binging on sugar, I rarely crave it these days. When I do have a physical craving (versus an emotional craving) for a sweet treat, it almost always follows a salty meal.

As I've mentioned before, cravings are messages from your body that something is out of balance. Craving sugar after a salty meal could be your body's attempt to restore balance.

Balancing Yin and Yang
According to Traditional Chinese Medicine, salt possesses yang energetic qualities. It's contractive, warming, drying and compact.

Sugar possesses yin energetic qualities. It's expansive, cooling, moistening and light. Sugar ascends energy whereas salt descends energy.

When you have too much of one, your very wise body will crave the other to reestablish balance between yin and yang.

Slash the Salt
The next time you have a sugar craving, reflect on how much salt you've been consuming. If you suspect salt or other sources of sodium (e.g., monosodium glutamate/MSG, sodium citrate, sodium nitrate, etc.) might be driving your sweet tooth, experiment with reducing your consumption and notice what difference it makes.

Keep in mind, the majority of sodium in our diet comes from outside of the home, including processed, packaged items (e.g. bread, soup, snack foods), grocery store prepared foods (e.g., salad bar, deli), and restaurant fare.

To reduce your sodium intake, eat mostly home-cooked foods made with fresh, whole ingredients and seasoned with spices, herbs, citrus, vinegar, etc. instead of salt.

For more easy tips on diminishing your sugar cravings, click here.