What Sweet Tooth? All My Teeth are Sweet! (What to Do When Your Sugar Cravings Start to Own You)

Sugar cravings are your body’s way of telling you that you need an extra boost of energy. A little bit of a sweet treat is not a bad thing but while dark chocolate or fresh fruits are excellent options, cookies and cakes unfortunately, are not. Still, a piece of molten lava cake is okay every now and then but the problem begins when the cravings start to become more potent and all-consuming and sweet treats become an obsession.

Eating foods high in refined sugar or high fructose corn syrup on a regular basis is the kryptonite to good health. They weaken the immune system and wreak havoc on hormone and energy levels. Thus, increased sugar intake has been proven to be the main culprit to weight gain, premature aging, sleep disruptions, mental fatigue and even depression.

Studies have determined sugar cravings to be just as overwhelming as a drug addiction and as with every other type of addiction, the key to recovery is to be in the present moment and pay attention to what is really going on within. Yoga is an excellent way to help bring the attention away from cravings and back in touch with the breath and in tune with the body.

A good way to start toning down obsessive tendencies is through meditation. One simple way to meditate is by seating on the floor in a comfortable position with the arms raised overhead in a V shape. Finding the ease to stay in this posture for a few minutes will clear the mind and release tension from the body. The V position also fosters awareness so the mind doesn’t wander and flit from thought to thought.

The hips are said to harbor a lot of pent-up energy so hip-opening exercises should help the body let go of negative emotions. One easy posture to try is Janu Sirsasana (Head to Knee Pose):

– Sit up tall with shoulders in line with the hips and extend the left leg straight out in front.
– Bend the right knee and place the bottom of the right foot against the left inner thigh. Variation: if you want a deeper stretch, place the foot on the left hip crease in half lotus position.
– Inhale, lift the arms straight up. Exhale, fold forward at the hips, extending the spine with hands reaching for the left foot.
– Hold for 10 long, deep breaths.

If your flexibility allows and you want a more intense hip-opening exercise, try a preparatory pose for Parivritta Surya Yantrasana (Compass Pose).

– Hug the right knee with both arms and press the bottom of the right foot against the inside of the left elbow.
– Wrap the right arm around the right thigh and join hands together in front to cradle the leg. Variation: if the knee hurts, simply hold the right foot with the left hand and the right knee with the right hand.
– Lengthen the spine, sit up tall, relax the shoulders and sway the leg from side to side.

At this point, you might want to go for the full Compass Pose which, aside from opening the hips also has the added benefit of stretching the sides of the body as well as the hamstrings. At the same time, the complexity of the posture allows the practitioner to really think about how the body feels as it tries to get into the full position:

– From the preparatory pose, slide the right arm under the right calf and bring the right leg to rest on top of the right shoulder.
– Grab the outside of the right foot with the let hand and press the right hand on the ground alongside the right hip.
– Lean to the right, look under the left arm and gaze upwards.
– Straighten the leg and keep opening the torso upward and towards the left.

Repeat all 3 postures on the other side to open the other hip after which, you should feel a lightness around the pelvic area and hopefully, in your chest as well having released all those dormant energy.

Regular practice should help dissolve addictive tendencies as you begin to focus on your inner feelings and emotions. So, the next time you get a craving for something sweet, you’d know it’s just your body telling you that you worked so hard and deserve a treat!

By Leigh Cabañes