What Craving Sugar And Salt May Mean: How Blood Sugar Levels Can Affect Junk Food Cravings
Craving sugar and salt? Your body may be trying to tell you something. Food literally fuels the human body, and hankering for something sweet and/or salty may have a closer connection to the inner workings of your body than you might have thought.
Read on for more possible reasons why youre tempted to reach for that bag of potato chips while watching TV, or why you head straight for the ice cream bin when you do your weekly shopping. Mind you, these reasons dont even begin to cover the psychology behind emotional eating , but the potential physiological causes for your cravings.
Once youre better aware of why youre craving sugar and salt, you might be able to manage these temptations more constructively.
How Much Protein Can Help Manage Sugar Cravings
Wondering how much protein do you need to keep your sugar cravings at bay? As Lubeck explains, the daily requirement varies based on age, gender, weight, and activity level, but a general formula Harvard Medical School offers is to eat 0.36 to 0.45 grams of protein per pound of your body weight.
Another important takeaway, Lubeck says, is to space out your protein intake evenly throughout the day. For example, if your daily requirement is 75 grams of protein, you might consider eating 15 grams over five snacks or meals spaced throughout the day.
Another good way to prevent sugar cravings is to pay close attention to hunger cues, and dont allow yourself to grow overly hungry. Allowing yourself to reach the point of starving will cause your body to crave simple carbs, as theyre the quickest form of energy. Youre then more likely to give in to temptation and eat processed junk food to satisfy your sugar cravings. Stay one step ahead of cravings by having healthy snacks regularly throughout the day and not allowing huge gaps between mealtimes.
Constantly Craving Sugary Snacks And Tasty Carbs Check Your Blood Sugar Levels
If you find yourself susceptible to binging sweets or carb-laden snacks , your blood sugar levels might be low. Remember: Food fuels your body. And if your energy stores are running low, your blood sugar may drop.
If this happens, youll want the easiest, quickest way to replenish your fuel stores. Unfortunately, that may involve reaching for foods rich in simple sugars and carbohydrates. This is why eating a candy bar or donut can perk you up much faster than munching through a salad or Buddha bowl its thanks to that quick hit of sugar.5
However, once youve satiated your craving, the sugar youve just consumed could lead to a big spike in your blood sugar levels. This will eventually lead to a big crash in energy. Its a vicious cycle. Now its easier to see how the habit of eating sugar becomes addictive.6
The solution to keeping your blood sugar levels on a constantly even keel is to make sure youre eating meals composed of the right foods that keep you satiated. Consider adding these foods to your diet:
- Healthy high-fat foods, like avocado
- Omega-3-rich fish, like salmon, mackerel, and halibut
- Fiber-rich green leafy vegetables
- Dark chocolate, the darker the better 7
- Craving-killing, protein-rich foods, like nuts and red meat8
Now, if you find your hunger levels are all over the map , it may be time to see your doctor. Diet and lifestyle modifications are great, but theyre no substitute for necessary medical care.
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Donuts And Other Sweets Are Common Sources Of Added Sugar
If you usually have a hankering for something sweet after meals, find it hard to pass up dessert, or rely on sugar-filled coffee drinks for an afternoon pick-me-up, youre not alone. A study published in June 2017 in Appetite found that 86 percent of people who had food cravings thought about high-calorie foods specifically, those containing chocolate.
The good news: Reaching for healthy foods high in nutrients like protein and fiber can help stave off unhealthy hankerings.
Here are some of the foods that can help keep cravings for sugar at bay:
- Seeds, such as sesame and chia
- Pulses, such as beans, lentils, and chickpeas
Below, find a full list with the scientific reasons why they may be effective. Plus, learn more about what may be behind your sugar cravings in the first place.
Sugar Cravings Could Mean Something Deeper A Dietitian Says To Ask These 5 Questions
If cookies call to you, you can’t pass a bakery without buying a pastry, or dinner isn’t complete without a little something sweet, you may characterize yourself as having a sweet tooth. But sometimes those sugar cravings can feel overwhelming if you think about treats all the time, or your cravings can feel out of control or insatiable to the point where you overeat sugar and feel sick. But registered dietitian nutritionist Jessica Jones, MS, RD, CDE and cofounder of Food Heaven explained to POPSUGAR that sugar cravings aren’t necessarily a bad thing, and can actually give you insight into what your body may be needing or missing.
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Cover The Essential Nutrients
Protein and fat are crucial to kicking a sugar habit. Unlike sugar, healthy fats and protein provide slow and steady forms of energy, more like a flat, newly paved road rather than that glucose-flavored roller coaster. When your body doesn’t find sugar for fuel, it turns to fats, so eating plenty of healthy fats such as nuts, seeds, avocados and olive oil can help your body adjust to getting its energy elsewhere. Protein helps you feel satiated, which can reduce hunger and cravings, and many of the amino acids in protein help build the brain chemicals such as dopamine that make us feel good. When we feel balanced and energized, we are less likely to seek a sugar high.
Other important nutrients while trying to wean yourself from sugar include fiber, which slows digestion and stabilizes blood sugar iron, which when depleted can cause low energy and cravings and the energizing B vitamins, which are often depleted by sugar consumption and stress.
What Happens When You Eat Too Much Sugar
With frequent insulin spikes, comes insulin and leptin resistance. This means more insulin production, more fat storage and more insulin resistance. Leptin is the other factor. This hormone controls hunger, satiety, manages fat metabolism, and monitors how much energy is circulating in the body.
Leptin is produced by fat cells, and whats ironic is those who have difficulty losing weight generally have leptin resistance. Leptin resistance is perceived by the body as starvation, which causes the body to store more fat. Leptin resistance also stimulates formation of reverse T3 which blocks thyroid effect on metabolism.
To summarize, a persons body can believe its starving and keep telling them to eat more even though theyre eating excess calories. Its a horrible, vicious cycle! Causes of high leptin include stress, high insulin levels, overeating, over exercising, and lack of sleep.
Insulin and leptin resistance means youre at greater risk for type II diabetes if youre overweight, sedentary or have an unhealthy lifestyle and it can happen to anyone. Skinny or fat. Diabetes does not discriminate.
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Get Active & Eat Well
If youre working on finding new activities to replace snacking or distract yourself from cravings, you may want to try using the opportunity to exercise. Regular physical activity stimulates feel-better endorphins, which can help improve your mood.
As youre tuning in to your body, you may also find that there are times when you think youre hungry, but youre actually dehydrated! When you first feel a craving, reach for your water bottle or fill up a glass of water first. You may find this was just what your body needed.
After youve rehydrated, check back in with your body. If youre still feeling hungry, the next step is to pause and think about what to eat. What youre hankering for at the moment may not be what your body really needs.
What Is Your Sugar Craving Telling You About Your Health
Your sugar craving is telling you, you have an insulin problem and are over eating sugar and refined carbohydrates. Nearly 2/3 of Americans are overweight because they grossly overeating sugar and refined carbs. Even skinny people can become addicted.
Continuing on the path of over consuming these foods will set you up for metabolic syndrome, pre-diabetes, and the development of heart disease and type II diabetes. Your sugar craving is also telling you, youre lacking key nutrients in your diet. Meaning youre not eating enough non-starchy vegetables and fruit and eating too much junk.
Have you ever noticed how you can eat an apple or carrot and dont repeatedly crave it over and over again the way you do sugar? How is that possible? Dont apples and carrots have naturally occurring sugar? They do! The big is these foods have minerals and vitamins your body needs. They also have fiber to balance the sugar which means you dont get a blood sugar surge.
That fiber slows the absorption of sugar causing less of a spike. In fact, if youre going to eat sugar eating it with something like a salad is best. Sounds yummy, huh? Your body is smart. It knows what it needs. A sugar craving is your bodys way of telling you Im not getting what I need, stop feeding me junk and FEED ME real food!
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Why Am I Craving Sweets: The Link Between Sugar And Depression
Its not unusual to crave carbs, sugar, and chocolate when you are stressed or dealing with depression. Cravings can be your bodys way of letting you know its not getting something it needs, such as a specific vitamin or mineral. Having certain cravings, such as for chocolate or other sweets, is also often linked to how you feel emotionally.
You dont have to completely deprive yourself of the treats you enjoy. The key is understanding why you are craving them and making sure that your overall diet is balanced and nutritious.
Learning a little more about the connection between food and mood can empower you to control your cravings rather than letting them control you.
Your Diet Is Not Right
There is no right or wrong when it comes to your diet, but if you are having sugar cravings then it could be due to a diet that is not optimal. If your diet already includes donuts, bagels, candy bars, and soda then chances are your sugar cravings are because of how you have been eating. The more you eat these simple sugars, the more your brain will want them, which can continue the vicious cycle of sugar cravings.
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Is Sugar Really Addictive
The first thing to get straight is that craving sugar isnt all about a lack of willpower. No, the truth is that sugar can be addictive. In fact, the science on this is pretty clear: eating sugar causes the brain to release opioids and dopamine, which are neurotransmitters most often associated with the rewarding effects of drug abuse.
Some researchers have even found that in controlled rat studies sugar is more addictive than cocaine. And while it might be a little premature to label them cocaine cookies, its definitely time to accept that sugar cravings and addiction is a real thing And yes, that means withdrawals are also very real.
Your Hormones Arent Happy
Could your hormones be the reason you’re not losing weight? Keeping your hormones happy is a full-time job. Having just a slight hormonal imbalance can set our whole body out of whack. Serotonin can drop as a result of diet changes or elevated stress levels.
It can also be sensitive to the seasons, with levels falling during the winter months due to lack of sunlightwhen sunlight enters our eyes it stimulates parts of our retina that trigger our brain to produce serotoninand low levels of vitamin D.
But how do falling serotonin levels lead to sugar cravings? Its due to that brain reward system. “Many people report an increase in positive mood shortly after eating a carbohydrate-rich meal,” says Braye. This is because simple carbohydrates and sugars can increase our serotonin levels.
While serotonin is made in the brain from amino-acid tryptophan, carbohydrates are crucial in helping this process along. They cause our body to release insulin, which removes all amino acidsexcept tryptophanfrom our blood. That means tryptophan has no competition and can enter our brain easily, boosting serotonin levels. Clever!
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The Role Of Tryptophan
Tryptophan is an amino acid that is a precursor of serotonin. That means your body needs tryptophan to make serotonin. Tryptophan may also produce a calming effect through interactions that take place within the realm of the gut-brain axis.
Several studies have proposed that low levels of tryptophan can increase hunger and drive food cravings, as well as contribute to symptoms of depression.
A diet with plenty of high-tryptophan foods may be helpful in boosting mood and managing cravings. Tryptophan is naturally found in protein-rich foods such as seafood, eggs, and poultry, and can also be taken in the form of a supplement.
Tips For Satisfying Your Sweet Cravings When You Have Diabetes
Common Causes Of Food Cravings
- Psychological or emotional stress
- Certain prescription and over-the-counter medications
- Hormone imbalances
- Physical and mental health conditions
Research has shown that cravings can also be driven by memories rather than bodily cues. Consistently having a certain food at a certain time creates a mental linkyou might say it almost feeds the craving.
For example, if you grab a snack from the vending machine at work at the same time each afternoon, your desire for the snack may be less about satisfying hunger and more out of habit.
Sweets and decadent meals are often associated with vivid memories of food at social gatherings, such as holidays, parties, and family get-togethers. If you find yourself thinking about your Grandmas molasses cookies or your moms famous apple pie, you may be missing your family members, not the food.
It might sound like cravings are all in your head, but that doesnt mean you’re imagining them. In fact, they’re most often based in biology.
In 2004, researchers used fMRI machines to look at people’s brains as they experienced food cravings. They noticed similarities in the neuroanatomy of food-craving brains and those of people who were addicted to drugs and alcohol .
In a 2011 study, researchers found that when one area of the brain was activated, it temporarily decreased food cravings, particularly for sweet foods and carbohydrates.
Sugar Cravings And Zinc
Zinc can help speed up your recovery from the common cold and can be found in a variety of foods, including oatmeal, almonds, chickpeas, yogurt, lobster, pork and beef. No matter whether you’re a vegan, vegetarian or eat meat, there are plenty of places you can get zinc. You can also get it in the form of a dietary supplement.
Men should take at least 11 milligrams of zinc per day, and women should take no less than 8 milligrams a day, according to the National Institutes of Health.
However, pregnant women should take at least 11 milligrams of zinc a day, which is the same as the recommended daily intake for men. Just make sure to keep your daily intake below 40 milligrams since zinc can be toxic when taken in higher amounts than that. Symptoms of zinc toxicity include abdominal cramps, headache, diarrhea, vomiting and nausea.
You should not take zinc if you’re on penicillamine, the drug used to treat arthritis diuretics or antibiotics. If you are interested in taking zinc supplements to help you curb your sugar cravings, make sure you talk to your doctor first.
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How To Stop Sugar Cravings: 8 Tips To Use Right Now
If you’re craving sugar, here are some ways to tame those cravings.
But won’t eating more often mean overeating? Not if you follow Neville’s advice to break up your meals. For instance, have part of your breakfast — a slice of toast with peanut butter, perhaps — and save some yogurt for a mid-morning snack. “Break up lunch the same way to help avoid a mid-afternoon slump,” Neville says.
Also, you may need to rethink your drinks. They can be a major source of sugar, whether itâs a soda, a latte, or juice. Try a sparkling water or plain water instead.