Sugar Cravings: Could Your Schedule Be to Blame?

At 3:11 PM on a Saturday in August 2009, I heard it.

That dreadful sound…that’s simultaneously a scrape and a POP.

Dreadful for two reasons:

First, because it makes me sad that I’ve hit the bottom.

Second, it makes me realize…


“Holy shit, I just ate an entire pint of ice cream.”


The negative thoughts start to bubble up — where the hell is my self-control? Talk about being a fraud. I should know better.

Why did I feel like a fraud? Well, for one, I had just graduated from the Institute for Integrative Nutrition, and had been spending the afternoon writing articles about health (and had just bought two giant bags of vegetables at the farmer’s market).

Also, I mean, come on. Who does that?

At the time, I was working 12 hours a day in the financial services industry, Peter was away on a work trip, so I decided to take advantage of this lonely August weekend by working on my health coaching business…so I could get one step closer to getting out of this job that was giving me me daily heart palpitations and a frightening influx of gray hairs.

So how did I end up going from writing nutrition articles to horsing down a container of mint chocolate chip? Did I lack knowledge of how to feed myself properly?

Doubtful – I could tell you about chlorophyll in a leaf of kale all the live long day (and no I will not make out with you!). So it had to be something else…


Then it hit me: I had scheduled myself into an ice cream binge.


After working 10+ hours a day, studying after work, and now spending all weekend working, I had given myself NO recovery time.

Too guilty to take an afternoon swim. Too guilty to call up a friend for a drink. Too guilty to go for a walk or hell, just lay out on a blanket and stare at the clouds for even 30 minutes.

Since I didn’t give my body and brain a break, it decided to TAKE that break by absent-mindedly pulling that mint-chocolate chip gelato out of the freezer and digging in until that spoon smacked the bottom.

Is there anything wrong with having ice cream now and then? Of course not.

But let it be a choice — a choice to indulge, treat yourself, take some pleasure. Not a guilty, mindless 10 minutes of weakness…followed by bloating and crankiness.

Because of course, after all that sugar coursing through my system, my productivity went down the drain.  Along with my dignity.

Each time I find myself desperate for sweets (omg who put this jar of Nutella in my hand?!), I think about how I have structured my day…or my week. Do I need a wee nap? Have I taken a break? When was the last time I hung out with a friend?


Sometimes doing nothing is the healthiest thing you can do.


So next time you find yourself mindlessly rushing to Shake Shack or dipping your hand into that bag of peanut-chocolate chunk gluten-free cookies, ask yourself “when was the last time I did nothing?”.

Now I want to hear from you: do you notice your cravings get louder when you don’t treat yourself with non-foodlike treats? Does your willpower weaken with the more pressure you put on yourself?

Leave a comment below and share!


  • Adam Wilson says:

    Great insight about cravings, and even though you don’t speak of it directly, addiction in general.

  • Liz Brazier says:

    Heather, so frigging true. We do lead ourselves towards it. Great reminder. And I love we even do this as qualified Health Coaches!

  • Hi Heather! I wanted to thank you for this article, because it helped me get some clarity on something I do way too often – fight myself to “push through” when I’m super tired and my body is begging for a break. The funny thing is, whenever I do that, my body looks and feels its worst (even if I’m working out a lot). I feel and look better when I am taking my time, giving myself rest and working out without pressuring the hell out of myself. And I was juuuust about to go into a cycle of “should I rest or get that one thing done,” when I read your post. So, thank you again! xo

    • Heather says:

      Awesome Kamari! I always find that if I’m debating between working for hours straight or vs. taking a break, I get way more done in half the time. Hope you found that too 😉

  • Fabiola says:

    I’m actually in this very same position myself right now! I just want to keep going without taking breaks or letting my mind rest a bit by partaking in the little pleasurable things I used to give myself time for. In exchange my health and mood have been suffering! I never made the connection between the sugar cravings you described, but now I see a pattern in my sugary snacks lately.

  • Mary says:

    I get sugar cravings when I’m sleep deprived. Sleep deprivation and stress in general bring on mindless eating. Heather, you’re right on about giving yourself a break and relaxing

    • Heather says:

      Great Mary! Sugar is pure energy so usually cravings mean you’re exhausted – hope you are working in more rest time 🙂

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