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
Is There A Pill To Stop Sugar Cravings
Sugar cravings can come out of nowhere and derail the diet plans of even the most healthy-minded people, so many scientists and manufacturers have searched long and hard for a way to suppress these cravings. However, we still havent found the holy grail of a supplement that can effectively curb these cravings, as they are caused by a wide variety of physical and psychological factors.
Fortunately, a combination of lifestyle changes , psychological tricks , and certain supplements can help you beat these cravings, even if theres no magic cure. If youre sceptical about supplements for sugar cravings or still struggling to avoid unhealthy snacks, try the following tips to reduce your sugar cravings:
Sugar Cravings And Chromium
Most Americans have a diet that is low in chromium, though not deficient. Chromium is an important part of blood sugar regulation.
The GTF is a necessary aspect of allowing insulin to deliver glucose to your cells, so they can get the energy they need. Consequently, not having enough chromium in your diet can lead to intense sugar cravings.
You can get chromium naturally from broccoli, grape juice, English muffins, garlic, basil, orange juice, turkey breast, whole wheat bread, red wine, apples, bananas and green beans. When it comes to recommended daily intakes, men should take between 30 and 35 micrograms, whereas women should take between 20 and 25 micrograms, according to the National Institutes of Health.
Pregnant or lactating women, however, should have at least 30 or 45 micrograms of chromium, respectively, from their diet on a daily basis.
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Reliable Ways To Crush A Sugar Craving
Its 3PM. Youre feeling a little lethargic, like you could use a pick-me-up to get through the rest of the afternoon. You start taking a mental inventory of available options. Theres the candy dish, the vending machine, the box of donuts a well-meaning coworker brought in.
But you already decided to clean up your eating habits, and you know those snacks are only going to leave you feeling even more lethargic and moody.
Listen, sugar cravings hit the best of us. Feeling like a slave to the sweet devil sucks. Treats are necessary, but they should be savored!
Luckily, there are actually things you can do to crush a sugar craving. Next time the urge to splurge hits, try one of these strategies:
Do Probiotics Help With Sugar Cravings
Although they may seem far removed from supplements for sugar cravings, probiotic foods and supplements could help you beat your sugar cravings by supporting a healthy digestive system. A major cause of sugar cravings is biological imbalances in your gut caused by your gut flora the bacteria that live in your gut which can be worsened by eating sugar and processed foods.
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A Fluctuation In Blood Sugar
If youre craving sweets all of a sudden, most likely you are experiencing blood sugar fluctuations, Goodman explains. When your blood sugar drops, your body may be trying to get you to give it more fuel to keep your blood sugar levels stable.” To keep your blood sugar balanced, she recommends eating a healthy amount of protein and adding more high-fiber foods, like beans and legumes, to your diet, along with complex carbs. This will give you the fuel you need without the blood sugar spikes, she promises.
When your blood sugar drops, your body may be trying to get you to give it more fuel to keep your blood sugar levels stable.
Chocolate Cravings: A Special Case
As cravings go, chocolate is;in a class of its own.
Chocolate is one of the most commonly craved foods, especially by women.
There is even a word for someone who craves chocolate a chocoholic.
Theres a long-standing myth that chocolate cravings indicate a need for magnesium.
But this is basically an excuse to eat more chocolate since green leafy vegetables, nuts, and seeds are equally good sources of magnesium.
While chocolate offers many health benefits, dont use that as an excuse to binge on it.
The added sugar in your favorite chocolate bars can spark sugar cravings.
I was disturbed to learn that my favorite small dark chocolate bar contained a whopping 5 teaspoons of added sugar.
There are sugar-free versions of chocolate.
Many contain sugar alcohols, but I prefer chocolate sweetened with stevia.
Also, you can make your own sugar-free chocolate snacks with cocoa powder or cacao nibs.
Both of these provide the same health benefits as the darkest chocolate with no added sugar.
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Neurotransmitter Brain Support Supplements
Neurotransmitters are the chemical messengers neurons that move around your body to ensure everything signals correctly. They play a key role in managing many body processes, as well as central actions that take place in your brain, such as mood, learning, memory, and cognition.;
If you are very stressed, you do a lot of emotional eating, and youre craving a lot of carbohydrates , your brain might need a little bit of help in the form of supplements, which literally tell your brain to calm down and quit craving a quick energy fix from carbs.;
These supplements include amino acids, gamma-aminobutyric acid , and D-phenylalanine.
Stack Your Diet With Protein And Good Fats
Frequently, food cravings are caused by eating too many processed carbohydrates and not enough protein and fats. Carbs can be healthy in moderation and give you a quick boost of energy, but when you eat too many of them, the resulting blood sugar fluctuations can cause cravings.
Try incorporating more healthy fats and proteins, like meat, fish, eggs, avocados, and nuts, in your diet protein and fat help to reduce hunger and prevent unnecessary food intake.
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Supplements To Curb Carb Cravings
There are number of supplements available by manufacturers that help to suppress carb cravings.
However you have to consult your physician before starting these supplements.
- There are supplements in the form of mouth sprays which can be sprayed into the mouth to suppress carb cravings.
- Gymnema Sylvester herb: it is a natural herb that suppresses the craving for sweets and sweet products. The herb comes in the form of pills and it also promotes pancreatic function.
- The amino acid L- glutamine is another supplement available that curbs the carb craving. It comes in powder form and it is odorless and tasteless. It can be taken in the morning dissolving it in water.
The Science Behind Sugar Cravings
Do you crave a sweet treat after every meal? Or at the same time every day? Sugar cravings are common and can often be explained by simple things, like the side effects from certain foods in your diet or a bad habit that has reprogrammed your brain.
But some sugar cravings can be a result of an underlying nutrient deficiency.
So next time you reach for a dessert after breakfast or candy from the jar on your colleagues desk at work, stop and consider the psychological and biological reasons that are motivating your sweet tooth.
Whats happening in your brain
Several areas in your brain play a significant role in the crave sensation. The horseshoe-shaped hippocampus, located in your temporal lobe, is responsible for making short-term and long-term memories and plays a significant role in reward-seeking behavior.
The hippocampus enables you to remember the taste of dark chocolate versus milk chocolate.
In each hemisphere of your brain, there is a caudate nucleus, which influences reward-seeking behavior, but is also responsible for forming new habits good and bad like snacking the minute you walk through the door after work, without even noticing it. These habits are more like a conditioned response, meaning, even after a half day of work you have the urge to snack.
Habits formed by the caudate nucleus are hard, but not impossible, to break.
Diet factors that can cause cravings
Its the same reason you can crave sugar on a high carbohydrate diet.
What to do?
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Health Experts Reveal Reasons You Crave Sugar
Unlike other unhealthy habits that people try to avoid, like smoking, excessive drinking or drugs, eating sugar is very common in people’s diets, both adults and children, and many of them aren’t aware of the side effects they face.
For this article, we wanted to do something different and we reach out to 25 experts in nutrition and healthy eating and asked them to express their opinions to the following questions:
;If you are used to eating dessert daily and in one day you won’t have anything sweet around you will have to deal with sugar cravings. Eliminating sugar from your diet isn’t as easy as you may think. But thankfully, there is actually more things you can do about it.
At times, even if you aren’t hungry you will feel the urge of eating something sweet like chocolate, donuts, ice cream or something similar. Eating a lot of refined sugar impacts your health in many negative ways. You gain weight, your blood sugar level gets higher, and your diabetes risk also increases. But you already know this, right? Keep reading to learn the actual reasons why you might crave sugar and how you can actully fix it.
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.
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What Else Can I Do To Curb Sugar Cravings
Okay, so apart from increasing your intake of chromium what else can you do? Well, while sugar might still be popular this season, theres another seasonal food product thats widely available at this time of year cinnamon!
A warming and sweet super-spice, cinnamon is the perfect alternative to sugar. Studies have indicated that the spice can help to regulate blood sugar levels7; and supplemented cinnamon has even demonstrated the ability to lower unhealthy cholesterol by decreasing blood lipid levels!8 Even if you dont want to supplement cinnamon, you can still add it to dishes instead of sugar, either sprinkled over your morning bowl of porridge or added to healthy energy balls.
Just make sure what youre using is Ceylon cinnamon as this is the true form of cinnamon and considered to have the best health properties. Here are a few of my favourite cinnamon-based recipes to get you started!
You could also try eating a high protein breakfast as one study recently demonstrated that eating breakfast can cut your sugar cravings by up to 300%!9 By high protein, we dont mean something thats infused with a powder; we mean good, natural sources of protein such as pulses, eggs, or nut-butters!
Sugar Cravings And Vanadium
Vanadium may be responsible for normal bone growth, according to Penn State Milton S. Hershey Medical Center. If you have a vanadium deficiency, then there is a high chance that you will have sugar cravings, according to the Diabetes Library.
Vanadium can be found in artificially sweetened drinks, shellfish, mushrooms, grains, beer, wine, dill weed, parsley and black pepper, states Penn State Hershey.
When it comes to recommended daily intakes, there isn’t a set amount for vanadium. The average person gets 0.01 milligrams daily, which is sufficient, according to the Royal Society of Chemistry.
Penn State Hershey advises against taking vanadium if you are on diabetes medication, have high cholesterol, have anemia or any other condition that has to do with your white blood cell count or have kidney issues. You’re also generally not supposed to take vanadium if you are on any blood-thinning medication. Talk to your doctor before you take vanadium to combat your sugar cravings.
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How Does Gut Imbalance Cause Sugar Cravings
An imbalance in your gut health can also cause sugar cravings. A healthy gut is very important to your overall wellness. If youre someone who eats a lot of sugary and processed foods, the bacteria in your digestive system end up feeding on the sugar in your diet, making your sugar cravings even worse!
Drink A Large Glass Of Lemon Water
We so often confuse thirst with hunger. Lemon water hydrates and offers our palate a clean slate, as well as aids the body in its natural detoxification process and promotes alkalization.
This is a great tool mid-afternoon trick in between meals, if and when you start to feel the craving monsters creep in. Because water can dilute our digestive enzymes and interfere with the breakdown and digestion of our food, opt for a tip #1, 5, or peppermint essential oil if dealing with a craving post meal.
Bring lemon wedges in the ziplock bag with you to work. Try adding them to your water in the afternoon. Alternatively, pack a peppermint essential oil with you in your purse for post-meal cravings.
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Eating Too Many Natural Foods With Added Sugars
Sugar is a sneaky thing! There are more than 60 names for sugar that you may be totally unaware of. But no matter where where sugar comes from, even a natural source like raw honey or maple syrup, its all converted to glucose in the body. Even if you follow a vegan, Paleo, or otherwise clean eating type of diet, you may still be consuming a lot of added sugar, or eating foods that convert the same way to glucose in the body without even realizing it. ;
Read the labels on everything you eat. The best way to eliminate your sugar cravings causes is to limit all sugars, even natural sweeteners like honey or dates.
Were All A Little Deficient
So, heres the deal. According to Dr. Ross, were all likely deficient in some neurotransmitter or another. Any number of things can set off a deficiency in us.
Maybe you eat a nutrient-poor diet without enough protein to supply the right balance of amino acids to make adequate amounts of certain neurotransmitters.
Maybe you had a loved one die, and the stress has eaten away at you.
Maybe you lost a job, or have experienced some other huge financial stress.
Perhaps you got pregnant or gave birth. Both are extremely hard on your body.
Maybe you had a period of too little sleep, or an overly critical boss, or experienced some other emotional wound.
Whatever the reason, you over-stressed and exhausted yourself to the point where your body is now severely deficient in one or more neurotransmitters.
According to Dr. Ross, that deficiency is so deep that simply eating a diet of whole, traditionally-prepared foods will not be enough to correct the deficiency in two-thirds of us!
Instead, for those two-thirds of us, we need a little extra help.
We can supplement with the amino acid precursors our bodies need to make the neurotransmitters were deficient in and give ourselves a boost!
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