Understanding sweet cravings during ED recovery [podcast episode 54]

Hey! Shannon Western here; nutritionist, therapist, and host of The Ease With Food Podcast. Welcome to episode 54!

I delve into why you might be craving more sweet foods in eating disorder recovery.

The main take-aways and highlights:

Why you crave sweet foods more in recovery:

It’s a response to past restrictions:

Cravings for sweet foods often arise due to past limitations or thoughts of restriction around food. The brain reacts to perceived scarcity, intensifying the desire for these sugary treats as part of a rebound effect from previous constraints.

Energy restoration:

The body, especially during recovery, craves quick-release energy sources. Sweet foods, rich in carbohydrates, serve as easily accessible energy reservoirs, fulfilling the increased energy needs experienced during this phase.

Palatability and accessibility:

Sweet foods are often more palatable and easier to consume, requiring less preparation compared to other food groups. Their simplicity and accessibility make them a convenient choice, especially amid the complexities of recovery.

Physiological responses:

Cravings might align with natural drops in blood sugar levels, typically occurring in the late afternoon. These cravings signal a need for an immediate energy boost, leading to intensified desires for sweet foods.

Pendulum effect of restriction:

The more we restrict certain foods, the stronger the cravings become. This pendulum effect amplifies desires, causing heightened cravings for sweets due to previous limitations, creating a cycle of intensified urges.

Comfort and serotonin production:

Sweet foods might provide a sense of comfort and well-being. During recovery, the body may crave these treats to boost serotonin levels, contributing to feelings of contentment and relaxation. Also, serotonin is produced in the gut = needs carbs = carbs tend to be the sweet foods.

Convenience and digestive ease:

Sweet foods, often simple carbohydrates, are easier to digest and might be more convenient, especially if there are digestive issues. They provide a quick energy source without requiring extensive preparation or digestion.

Normalising eating patterns:

Craving sweets is part of the process of re-establishing a balanced relationship with food. Over time, as eating patterns normalize, these cravings tend to diminish.

Acceptance and nourishment:

Acknowledging and incorporating sweet treats into a balanced diet is essential for complete nourishment during recovery. Acceptance of these cravings as part of the healing process is crucial for overall well-being.

One thing to take away from the episode:

I think you just need to give it time. Time is the biggest healer in recovery.

The cravings will subside at some point, for now you just need to flow with it.

Until next time, take care!

Episode transcript

Welcome back to my podcast. Today, I’ll be addressing a listener’s query from an Instagram Q&A session. They asked about craving sweet foods during their recovery from what seems to be anorexia. They’re curious about why this happens and what they can do about it.

Though I don’t have the exact question in front of me, this is the gist of it. Craving sweet foods during recovery is quite normal. It’s part of readjusting your eating patterns. Whether you’ve physically restricted food or just had thoughts about it, your brain picks up on this and reacts. Craving sweets might just be a part of your recovery process, and anything that happens during recovery is a part of that journey.

I’ve got some notes here to cover this thoroughly. Listener questions really give me insight into real struggles, which I find more engaging than just coming up with topics. You can always ask me questions for the podcast via email or through Instagram.

Let’s delve into this. Craving sweets during recovery is normal as your body readjusts. If you’ve restricted before, your body might crave quick energy sources found in sweet foods. Additionally, sweet stuff is often easy to prepare and eat, which might be why it’s more appealing to you during this time.

Sweet foods, like cakes and chocolates, are simple carbohydrates that your body can digest quickly. During recovery, your metabolism increases, demanding more energy, which might explain the cravings. Moreover, the more we restrict something, the more we tend to crave it. Over time, as you continue eating regularly, these cravings should normalize.

Online, some sources wrongly portray sweet cravings as a sign of food addiction or poor gut health. But craving sweets is normal, and the gut health link might be exaggerated. Ultimately, there’s nothing wrong with craving sweet foods. It’s a natural part of recovery. Focus on balanced meals and snacks while allowing yourself to enjoy sweet treats.

I hope this sheds light on why these cravings occur during recovery and how to approach them. See you next week!

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