New Castle News

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December 13, 2012

Lori Brothers on Healthy Living: Face up to Sugar Monkey business

NEW CASTLE — One of our heart patients has a wonderful way of describing her challenge of controlling her sugar cravings.

She often says, “I have the Sugar Monkey on my back.”

Do you have the Sugar Monkey on your back? Do you crave sugar? Do you love to indulge in decadent sweets? Do you dream about that next delicious sweet confection blasting your taste buds?

This time of the year can be especially hazardous to your goals if sugar is already your weakness. There are so many extra holiday goodies around.

The good thing about the idea of the “Sugar Monkey” is that it gives you the opportunity to imagine your sugar craving outside of your need for sugar. You’ve given it a new name, “the Sugar Monkey.”

If every time you crave a sweet you recognize it as the “Sugar Monkey” riding your back, it gives the reach for a sweet a new perspective, and perhaps the will to say “no.” Creating some space between your urge for the sweet, and reaching for the sweet, is only a Sugar Monkey away. Consider creating one.

If you’re willing to give imagery a try you will be able to create a new perspective about your sugar craving. In this way, you can become more aware of your obsession with sugar (or any other craving) by approaching it in a new way.

Name your Sugar Monkey, visualize how it looks in detail. Is it cute, or does it have gnashing teeth that demand sugar? You may realize your first step is to tame your Sugar Monkey, if you feel it is vicious or demanding. You may have to include the befriending of your Sugar Monkey in your imagery.

The more detail you give your imagery, the more personal and powerful it will become. Telling the Sugar Monkey “no” may be much more effective than trying to tell yourself “no” when you’re having a craving.

If you were able to tell yourself “no” more effectively, you wouldn’t feel burdened about your cravings. However, just like teaching a puppy to stay in its own yard, you can teach your Sugar Monkey to reach for a better sweet.

Disciplined monkeys tend to eat more fruit — apples, oranges, bananas, pears and occasional sweets. You can train your Sugar Monkey to be your ally instead of the enemy. You are the trainer.

So what causes sugar cravings? Sometimes there are hormonal and chemical imbalances that will trigger cravings. You can check with your doctor to rule these out or get some medical advice.

Secondly, the truth is that sweets tastes good. It can be that simple. If you have an inclination toward the gratification of sweet flavors, especially from a young age, it is more of a challenge for you to eat the wider range of other flavors that you have available to you.

If your tongue is dialed up to high on the sweets scale, you will have to use determination to train those taste buds to receive alternate information. But that is what a Sugar Monkey is for. Go for naturally occurring sweets instead of always eating the high sugary snacks. Your Sugar Monkey might eventually even like eating more veggies.

According to the American Heart Association Americans consume an overabundance of sugar, averaging about 22 teaspoons of added sugars per day. The recommendation is to limit added sugars to about 6 teaspoons per day for women and 9 for men.

Other ways to train your Sugar Monkey away from cravings include:

•Get up and go. Take your Sugar Monkey for a walk.

•Regular and consistent eating habits will ensure you don’t get too hungry.

•Chew gum.

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