Losing weight is a product of a successful pairing between proper dieting and the right amount of exercise. But a proper diet seems to be nary the case any more, given how we have been conditioned to quell any stomach rumbles in the afternoon off whatever that is waiting in the office pantry. It wouldn’t be too far off a guess, if we were to speculate what a bulk of those snacks are — it is highly likely that they come in the form of chocolate wafers, cheese biscuits or bags of chips.
While they work well to calm the storm that’s in your tummy, they are all high in sugar or are laden with sweet additives to make them extra appealing. To begin with, perhaps, this hankering for sugar is what got your tummy rumbling in the first place.
Digging for Sweets
But if you are feeling guilty over your pantry-raiding experiences, you absolutely don’t have to. Humans have always had a soft spot for the sweet stuff — when humans were still hunting and foraging for food, sweet stuff was regarded as safe to consume over the bitter and sometimes poisonous plants.
It is an open secret that there are no benefits to sugar. It does not hold any protein or essential fats, nor provide vitamins or minerals in them. When a large amount of sugar enters our body, it actually hinders the hormones that deal with hunger from working, causing us to feel peckish more often and resulting in an increase in calories and weight gain. Not to mention, sugar sabotages your metabolism, which can lead to increased insulin levels and a higher likelihood of obesity.
Still feel like you have to get your hands on a sweet snack? Ignoring those cravings can be hard (we have all been there), but there are a few psychological tricks that you can play on to outfox your sweet tooth and keep your hands in your pocket.
Don’t Forget Breakfast
They don’t call it the breakfast of champions for nothing. What a solid breakfast filled with good carbohydrates, fibre and protein does to your body is that it sustains you longer. Research has recently made clear what starting your day on empty does to your body. When you skip your morning meal, the body is unable to replenish the low blood sugar that is typical of your body after you wake. This leads to your body feeling like it is low on energy and the likelihood of your overcompensating with a heavy, high-fat meal or snacking on sugary treats is much higher.
The reason why most people skip their breakfast is because they are darting out the door to catch the morning train to work. A great tip would be to prepare your morning meal the night before. It allows you an opportunity to properly prepare a nutritious meal with healthy food items, like grains and fruits to get you focused at work, without a nagging thought to visit the pantry at the back of your mind.
What we have noticed is that cravings mostly strike us when there is a lull at work — when you have completed all your tasks and all these thoughts of food are invading your personal headspace. Most of the time, these cravings are triggered by boredom, anxiety or emotions. If you feel that desire to pull out a snack from your drawer and munch to bid the boredom away, distract yourself from that sweet tooth craving by partaking in an activity that will take your mind off food.
A few of those examples could be something as simple as chatting with a colleague situated at the opposite end of the office or taking a toilet break and throwing a splash of water on your face to make you forget that there is a trove of unhealthy snacks in the office. If you are following a bunch of food Instagrammers on social media, now is a good time to unfollow them, just in case their posts pop up on your feed in between meals.
Breaking the Habit
Have you ever encountered one of those friends who would not feel satisfied with their meal, if their night did not end with desserts? Even when they have had a heavy meal, they would always find enough room to squeeze in a round of cakes or a candy-coated bowl of ice kacang. To adequately manage your cravings for the sweet stuff, you will have to understand how your cravings materialise. If your craving is actually a habit not triggered by circumstances, like seeing a huge advert for the opening of a new ice cream parlour, we suggest you put an end to it by breaking that bad habit and forming healthier habits.
How that works is by making an effort to curb your enthusiasm. If your meal is savoury and you feel the need to balance it out by having something sweet at the end of it, how about brushing your teeth right after dinner or going to the park for a stroll to block that thought?
As negative as “caving in” might sound, there are actually some benefits to it. If you know your body won’t sit easy unless it gets its sugar, you can actually direct your attention to nutritious substitutes that would benefit your body.
Feeling a wave of temptation overtaking you? Instead of going cold turkey, fresh fruit like figs, dates and bananas can be a great substitute, as they pack a nutritious punch, while feeding your desire for sweet stuff. Another alternative is to whip up healthy protein snacks for your work day, by ferrying your stash of energy bars in your drawer. Snacks packed with carbohydrates and protein are known to keep you feeling full for much longer, so food like oats and nuts are the way to go.