The Surprising Reasons You're Craving Sugar—And How To Curb Them
Persistent sugar cravings can be hard to resist, even though most of us are aware that giving in to the urge isn't the healthiest choice for our health in the long term. Sugar can be truly addictive, and so it's worth understanding the reasons behind why you might be longing for a chocolate bar or fizzy soft drink.
On a physiological level, your brain requires glucose in order to properly function. So, sugar cravings can be a sign that your blood sugar is low, however, a hankering for the sweet stuff can generally be put down to the following few common reasons. Read on to find out what they are and how to break them.
You're not getting enough sleep
I know we rave on about sleep constantly here at Bed Threads, but it's for good reason. A poor night's sleep has the ability to completely derail you physically and emotionally, and it's important to recognise if your sleep pattern is the reason to blame for a sugar addiction. It turns out that deep sleep plays a vital role in regulating leptin and ghrelin, hormones that are able to suppress food cravings.
How to fix it? Well, that's easier said than done, of course. Start by setting a sleep routine (a time you go to bed every night) and stick to it. It's not easy at first, but your body will adjust accordingly and you will be so much better off because of it.
You need to break the habit
Whether it's a sugary caffeinated drink every morning or a chocolate bar each afternoon, a sugar habit is easy to pick up but tough to lose. The area of the brain called the insula is responsible for producing emotions in response to a sensory experience. By taking the first sip of your favourite sugar-filled drink, for example, your dopamine levels will increase and give you a pleasurable sensation that will make you want to recreate that feeling over and over again.
Break the habit by consciously recognising your food cravings instead of blindly giving in to them. When you feel that sugary urge come on, try drinking a big glass of water or running around the block to form a new, healthier habit.
You're using artificial sweeteners
Anything has to be better than using sugar to sweeten your food, right? Actually, artificial sweeteners can condition your taste buds to crave even sweeter foods and strengthen a sugar dependency. Plus, they can confuse the body's blood sugar levels because when you consume something sweet without any nutritional value to it, your glucose levels drop and can cause you to feel shaky and unwell.
Opt for a piece of fruit to fill your body with natural sugars while gaining the benefits of essential nutrients like potassium, vitamin C and folate. Unfortunately, this means that if you've been using artificial sweeteners on the regular, it might be time to cut back. It will take time, so work your way up to a sugar-free lifestyle slowly.
You need to increase your protein intake
Without sufficient amounts of protein in your body, your blood sugar can spike and crash unexpectedly, leading to a longing for a sugar fix. Not only that, your body is going to experience a complete lack of energy which can, in turn, hinder your decision-making skills and lead to a sugar binge.
Make sure to incorporate foods high in lean protein such as salmon, chicken, and seitan into your daily diet to decrease the risk of giving in to pesky sugar cravings that don't benefit your body long term. If you're short on time, blend together a simple protein smoothie with your favourite fruits and greek yoghurt.
You have a mineral deficiency
Occasionally an urge to consume sugar stems from a deficiency in minerals such as magnesium and zinc. Magnesium and zinc are both important in the production and utilisation of glucose, insulin, and dopamine, so it makes sense that the body would crave sweet foods as a result of being depleted of these minerals.
The best way to solve whether or not constant sugar cravings are caused by a deficiency is to get your nutrient levels checked by your GP who will be able to put you on the right path. You can also try snacking on a sugar-free food that's high in magnesium like nuts and dark leafy greens to satisfy your body in the meantime.
Salty cravings too? This is what your body is trying to tell you.