Craving Sugar Your Body Is Probably Lacking This Nutrient
In This Article
Like most people who think about food constantly, I take snacking very seriously. Growing up, Id gravitate toward salty and crunchythe crisp bite of a Lays potato chip or whatever those disturbingly orange, peanut butterfilled biscuits were. Lately, however, Ive noticed my salt tooth taking a decidedly sweeter turn, and its baffled me to no end. Suddenly Im craving chocolate, doughnuts, candy, those green Haribo frog gummies that are inexplicably peach-flavored The list goes on. Surely this must mean something about the inner workings of my body.
This cant be a good thing, right? According to research, sugar is said to be as addictive as some street drugs, with similar effects on the brain. Excess sugar consumption may also lead to cavities, type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and a slew of other health problems. Knowing all of this, I was determined to stop eating sugarbut each day, Id get tempted by a new sweet delicacy and thus, fall off the wagon . Why cant I quit something thats so clearly bad for my health, my brain, and my body? All around me, my fellow sugar worshippers bemoan the same question, all while stuffing more chewy morsels of Momofuku birthday cake into their mouths. I was determined to get to the root of the issue, and consulted two top nutritionists to help me find out what my sugar cravings mean, and hopefully, quell them.
Meet the Expert
Why You Should Do A Sugar Cleanse
You might be experiencing those blood sugar spikes and then the sugar crash or energy level dip, or the GI symptoms caused by inflammation from sugar in the gut microbiome, which may lead you to question how to flush sugar from your system. The first step in cleansing sugar from your body is focusing less on refined carbs and sugars. That way, you naturally focus more on real, whole foods, including fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, gluten-free grains, and high-quality, pasture-raised meat and seafood, if you eat animal products. Eating fewer processed foods allows for a greater percentage of the diet to include real clean foods, which can help improve digestion, lower inflammation, and boost your energy and mood, too.
How To Stop Eating Sugar
If we are not careful we can fall into a vicious cycle, where we remove sugar temporarily then trigger an intense desire for something sweet. This then prompts us to seek more sugar in order to stimulate the brain area with the sweets it is craving.
Just like an addict keeps going back to their drug of choice and needs more of it in order to get the same desired high. We try to raise dopamine with our food addiction only to lower our serotonin levels, and the merry-go-round continues.
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Tips To Smash Sugar Cravings
Note that you dont have to and may not need to completely avoid sweet foods. Sweet is one of the 5 basic tastes, and some people find that completely avoiding sweet foods intensifies the cravings.Others, however, find sweet foods triggering.
Treat yourself to sugar free treats made with monk fruit or stevia, like this cashew cake batter pudding. Or even a piece of fruit with nut butter. Some people avoid binge behavior by just satisfying cravings for sweets with some dark chocolate or something sweet. This is not true for everyone, however: Some people may experience serious binge reactions if they eat sweet foods.
Here are some tips to keep blood sugar stable and cravings in check:
If you overdid it: The day after a sugar binge, start off with 8 ounces hot water and the juice of 1/2 a lemon to detoxify, and drink green vegetable juices if you have access to alkalize the body sugar is very acidic. Then stick to protein & veggies & plenty of good fats, like avocado, throughout the day to reset yourself.
Address Past Or Current Stressors That Might Be Causing Dependency
At least one study showed that sugar dependency and cravings are not necessarily about the sugar itself, but may be caused by environmental stressors and situations.
One way to manage sugar cravings is to make it a point to be present with yourself and tune into your patterns. Do you always reach for sugar after a stressful day? Do you experience a craving after you encounter a trigger for a past trauma? Awareness of when and why cravings occur is the first step in freeing yourself from them.
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Increase Your Protein & Fat Intake
Eat right for your breakfast it has a significant influence on the rest of your day. Having protein in your meals gives you lasting energy and reduces your cravings for sugary food. Eggs, peanut butter, beans, legumes, protein smoothies, fatty fish, and nuts are all high in protein.
An increase in healthy fat intake also helps in sugar detox. Healthy fats include avocado, unsweetened coconut products, grass-fed butter or ghee , nuts, and seeds. Aim for 1-2 tablespoons of healthy fat with each meal.
Waiting Until You Get Too Hungry To Eat
If you wait until you are ravenous before eating, itâs MUCH harder to enjoy your food mindfully and to make rational decisions.
Your body interprets hunger as a form of stress, and our reaction is usually to grab a quick source of energy, like something sweet. âWillpowerâ has nothing to do with it you are literally up against biology. But eating BEFORE you are ravenous does.
Start to listen and pay attention more to your hunger cues. Aim to eat when you are about a 3 on a hunger scale of 1 to 5 .
That way, you can slow down, ask yourself what you want, and calmly eat it â no sweet tooth/hungry panic involved. See also: How to Eat Intuitively | A Guide to Mindful Eating.
I hope these tips help you understand what causes sugar cravings, and how to stop them!
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Is It Worth It In The Long Term
Visualizing the long-term consequences of snacking or otherwise indulging can help some people to curb cravings.
These consequences may include:
- health risks
- feeling reduced levels of energy and happiness throughout the day
This exercise can also help a person to see the big picture and remember why they are dieting or trying to restrict their intake of certain foods.
Stress can play a role in hunger cravings, and long-term stressors can cause some people to crave foods that are sugary or more calorie-dense.
Finding ways to reduce stress may help to eliminate cravings.
Simple means of reducing stress, such as taking regular breaks from work, or even taking a few deep breaths, can help the body to refocus and calm the mind.
It may also help to try mindful stress-relieving practices, such as:
- breathing exercises
How To Break The Sugar Habit
Our sugar-laden diet is literally killing us. That’s the conclusion of a study reported at the annual meeting of the American Heart Association in March 2013. The study authors attributed 180,000 annual deaths worldwide25,000 in the United States aloneto sugary beverages. Sodas and fruit drinks aren’t our only sources of sugar. The average American eats between 22 and 30 teaspoons of added sugar each day, according to the AHA.
“The harmful effects of sugar are primarily due to the weight gain from added sugar in the foods we eat and sugar-sweetened beverages,” says Dr. Michelle Hauser, certified chef and nutrition educator and clinical fellow in medicine at Harvard Medical School. “Most of the deaths are related to heart disease, cancer, and diabetes.”
How much sugar do we actually need? According to AHA guidelines, women shouldn’t get more than 100 of our daily calories from added sugar. In reality, “you don’t need any added sugar,” Dr. Hauser says.
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Being Set Free From Sugar Will Be Worth The Work
Is all this work worth the effort? It is if you want to take your health back and truly be set free. Ill admit that the first few days and weeks will be the most challenging.
But after consistently turning down the temptation you will notice the desire for sweets to begin to subside. The more you surrender this area to God the easier it will be to pass the test.
Randy and I call this our Jesus and Keto Lifestyle. Because it wasnt until we combined our faith with a ketogenic diet that we began to experience real transformation. It finally put us on the path to being able to say no to sugar and yes to our health.
Are Artificial Sweeteners Better
Artificial sweeteners, which are sugar-free and typically lower in calories than sugar, might seem like healthier options, but that idea is controversial. A 2012 scientific statement from the AHA concluded that using artificial sweeteners such as aspartame , saccharin , and sucralose can reduce the number of calories in your diet, thereby helping you lose weight.
However, there’s also evidence that eating these sweeteners, which are generally hundredsor even thousandsof times sweeter than sugar, can make you crave sweets even more. You undermine the benefit of using artificial sweeteners, for example, if you use a glass of diet soda to justify having a bowl of ice cream.
However, if artificial sweeteners can help you cut back on calories in a meaningful way, then they can be helpful in controlling weight and blood sugar. “For people who are trying to make small changes to their diet, artificial sweeteners are sometimes a good stepping stone, but they’re not a permanent fix,” Dr. Hauser says.
You may wonder which artificial sweetener is best. All of the sweeteners on the market are considered safe. There were reports during the 1970s linking saccharin to bladder cancer in rats that were fed extremely high doses of the sweetener. However, later studies didn’t find any evidence of the same effect in humans. Aspartame was also linked to cancer at one time, but that association has also been disproved.
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Side Effects Of Eating Too Much Sugar
While sugar is satisfying to the taste buds and the soul, the constant spikes in blood sugar and crashes that follow a binge can set off a host of effects, including fatigue, irritability, and anxious thoughts, among others, according to Sanford Health.
Blood sugar highs and lows can also perpetuate sugar cravings. When you’re consuming sugar, then you end up getting onto this whole roller-coaster ride of blood sugar dysregulation and that in and of itself can perpetuate physical stress, which then causes you to have more sugar cravings, says Dana Elia, RDN, an integrative and functional nutrition doctor in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, and author of The Sugar Detox Diet for 50+.
Added sugar, which Americans tend to eat too much of, can be particularly insidious for health. According to a November 2016 study in the journal Nutrients, consuming too much can increase the risk for obesity, heart disease, type 2 diabetes, nonalcoholic fatty liver disease, cognitive decline, and certain types of cancer.
The 20152020 U.S. Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend limiting added sugar intake to a maximum of 10 percent of your daily calories. This is the equivalent of 200 calories, or 12 teaspoons , if youre eating 2,000 calories per day. One can of Coke contains about 9 tsp of sugar, for example.
What Are Sugar Cravings
A craving is not driven by hunger but by your desire for pleasure. Everyone has sugar cravings every now and then, which is what makes a healthy diet difficult to follow. The urge can be extremely powerful, and many fail to overcome it. This leads to a vicious overeating cycle of sugar addiction where your cravings never end. If you give in and eat something sweet, you end up wanting more, and no matter how many chocolates you eat, the satisfaction never comes.
In order to reduce your sugar intake, you have to first learn what causes sugar cravings, so you can make smart choices and avoid potential triggers. An imbalance of blood sugar is a well-known culprit of a sweet tooth. Once you ingest something sweet, your body digests it and in the process, the sugar gets absorbed into your blood. In this way, your blood sugar level increases. To counter this rise, your body releases a hormone called insulin. Sometimes, your body might release too much insulin which will further decrease your sugar levels below the normal range. This sharp reduction in blood sugar makes your body crave for more to bring it back to the standard level. And so the cycle begins.
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If You Are Hungry Eat A Healthy And Filling Meal
Its important to realize that a craving is not the same as hunger.
Its not your body calling for energy, its your brain calling for something that releases a lot of dopamine in the reward system.
When you get a craving when youre hungry, the feeling is difficult to resist.
In fact, a craving combined with hunger is a powerful drive that most people have a hard time overcoming.
If you get a craving while hungry, one of the best tricks is to eat a healthy meal immediately. Stock your kitchen with healthy snack foods or pre-made meals.
Protein-rich foods, such as meat, fish and eggs are especially good for curbing hunger .
Eating real food may not feel very appetizing when you have a craving for sugary junk food. But if you truly need to lose weight, resilience is worth it in the long run.
When you experience a craving and hunger at the same time, force yourself to have a healthy meal rather than junk food.
Why More Fat And Less Protein
The diet plan works by encouraging high fat intake, reasonable amounts of protein and low carb food. Fats, unlike protein, have no effect on insulin.
If you consume large amounts of protein , on the other hand, insulin levels may increase temporarily.
Elevated insulin levels may reduce the bodys ability to burn fatty acids. As such, you have to keep track of the amount of carbohydrates and carb in food eaten.
Whats more, nutrient intake should mainly come from fat 80% of calories from fat, 15% from protein and 5% from carbohydrates. This way you will feel fuller and reduce carb cravings and encourages the state of ketosis.
A few others ways are:
- take 500 mg of L-Glutamine. This is an amino acid that acts as a sugar substitute in the brain. Itll trick your brain into thinking that youve just eaten sugar. Youll brain will use this as fuel when youre low on sugar. The best part is, this works fairly quickly. and wont however have all the nasty side effects that sugar has. Use L-Glutamine in a pinch and itll help you get over your sugar cravings.
- Get out there and go for a walk. Walking or any exercise releases something called dopamine. This is referred to as the feel good drug that the body creates. It will improve your mood and take away those sugar cravings. The same could be said about hitting the gym as well. Exercise in general is great and itll help you get one step closer to finally kicking the sugar habit once and for all.
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Break The Sugar Addiction
If you’re “hooked” on sugar, don’t try to eliminate all sugary foods at once. If you deny yourself even a single piece of candy or sliver of cake, you’ll only crave sweets more. Instead, eat a healthy diet made up of more satisfying foodswhole grains, fruits, vegetables, healthy oils, and lean protein. “Steer yourself away from sugar and eat these foods, which are digested more slowly. They’ll help to even out your blood sugar and you won’t have spikes and crashes all the time,” Dr. Hauser says.
Here are a few suggestions to help you break the sugar habit:
Keep sugary foods away. Don’t tempt yourself by stocking candy, cookies, and other high-sugar foods in your cupboards and fridge. “As a substitute for these things, keep fruit around,” suggests Dr. Hauser.
Sweeten foods yourself. Start with unsweetened iced tea, plain yogurt, and unflavored oatmeal. Then add your own sweetener. No matter how much sweetener you add, you probably won’t put in as much as the manufacturer would have, according to Dr. Hauser.
Watch for hidden sugars in foods. Be wary of foods where sugar tends to hide, including reduced-fat products. “When companies take out the fat, they add back almost all the calories in sugar,” Dr. Hauser says. Read labels. Avoid products that list sugar as the first ingredient or that contain several different types of sugar it’s one way manufacturers avoid having sugar listed as the first ingredient.
Get Enough Nutrition During The Day
One of the most common culprits of late-night snacking is not eating enough during the day. If youre being overly restrictive in an attempt to lose weight, or just forget to eat during the day, this could backfire when the night sets in. Being under-nourished or craving sugar can prevent us from falling asleep. Rather than restricting yourself, try crowding your plate with Clean Eating recipes so you can stay nourished, get enough, and stop those late night hunger pangs. While calories are important to an extent, nutrient density is even more important than calories. You can get 500 calories eating a small bag of chips and youll be hungry in an hour, or you can eat a piece of salmon and some veggies and feel satiated for much longer!
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