candy bowl

The Surprising Connection Between Your Smartphone & Your Sugar Cravings

My husband thinks it’s weird that I always have unopened text messages sitting on my phone. I’m blowin’ up just like you thought I would! No, no, I’m kidding. There’s a reason I don’t open messages right away.

A few years ago, I found myself totally drained at the end of every day. All I wanted to do was sit on my couch, watch TV, and eat cereal out of the box (or any other carb-y snack).

This was a problem, because I know how crappy I feel after eating lots of refined carbs like these.

It was also frustrating because I couldn’t figure it out. It wasn’t like I’d “done” a lot those days. I didn’t really feel like I’d overworked myself or spent an inordinate amount of time running up and down stairs. So what was it? Why did I feel so depleted?

Then one day it “clicked”. When I started sharing my personal journey with food on social media, I began receiving a lot of personal messages. I was sitting at a desk most of the day, but I was hopping on and off my phone constantly reading these messages. By the end of the day I felt like I had a hangover. Being on my phone all the time made my body feel “on,” constantly draining my energy without a moment to recharge.

It turns out that when your phone dings and you jump to read it, it actually triggers a low-grade stress response in your body.

This is not necessarily a bad thing. It’s actually a kind of response that gives you a boost of energy. Your thoughts quicken and you get that pep in your step that helps you get a lot done. This is partly because when your blood sugar levels increase, your body releases some feel-good hormones (epinephrine and cortisol).

So the mini stress response gives you a lift in energy that may feel good at first. However, when you jump up at every ding you spike your blood sugar repeatedly, which eventually results in a big-time energy collapse.

This is when your thoughts start to become foggy, your body feels drained of energy and all you want is the couch and sugary snacks (or refined carbs like cereal, bread, pasta or crackers that turn right into sugar.)

Grabbing my phone every time it dinged was like going back to the office candy bowl again and again. Eventually I crashed, and guess what my body craved when that happened? That’s right: more sugar.

Once I made this connection, I started taking actions to avoid bingeing on my phone.  

We truly live in the information age. Devices dominate our lives, helping us not only stay in touch with loved ones but also act as our daily morning alarm clocks, navigate around our cities, take and share pictures and videos, listen to music, date, email, manage our schedule, track our food and workouts, call a cab to us, meet work deadlines, check the weather, navigate the dark (flashlight!), and more.

But we need to be mindful of the way we interact with these tiny little pocket computers. Just as with any other relationship, it can turn into a toxic one if we’re not careful.

Once I set healthy boundaries with my phone, I diminished my cravings and increased my energy level, practically effortlessly.

If you feel like sugar cravings are controlling you, I hope you will set some boundaries with your phone and feel more energized.

Tight squeeze,

Holly