It’s 3 pm, and you can practically hear that candy bar in your desk calling your name. All you can think about is the sweet, crunchy toffee wrapped in a layer of creamy chocolate. We’ve all been there. But why do we get urges like this, and how can you avoid giving in? Read on to find out the truth behind sugar cravings.
Why you crave sugar
You ate the wrong things
Your body is incredibly intuitive. When you finish a meal without giving your body all of the nutrients it needs to produce energy, you will begin to crave the fastest, most dangerous form of energy available…sugar. Usually, you’ve eaten a meal with too many carbs and not enough, fat, protein, and fiber.
Simpy out of habit
Many cravings, especially sugar cravings, are simply a force of habit. You’ve had dessert after dinner every day for 10 years, so of course, you’ll have dessert after dinner for the next 10. You don’t even think about it or consider stopping. The best way to evaluate your eating habits and understand unhealthy sugary indulgences is to keep a food journal and begin to cut out your daily dose of sugar.
It is not primarily a physical reaction that leads to sugar cravings, but a mental one. Neurochemicals in the brain can cause addiction to sugar, similar to that of illicit drugs, opioids, and alcohol. Every time you indulge the sugar monster, dopamine is released into your body that gives you a happy, “high” feeling. Naturally, this pleasant hormonal response means that your brain will continually want to achieve that feeling, regardless of the negative consequences. This is the same reaction that leads to dangerous substance abuse of other things like drugs and alcohol.
Other things that cause sugar cravings:
- Meal skipping
- Poor sleep quality
- Finishing a hard workout
- Salty foods
Though it seems like exercise is the answer to most things, in this case, it serves a twofold purpose. Not only will it help distract your mind from your craving, but it will also help you burn off any sugar that you’ve already eaten and keep your body strong and healthy.
Enjoy some natural sugar
There is a major difference between the processed sugar in a bowl of ice cream and the natural sugar in a banana. Though they are both sugar sources, the banana has other beneficial vitamins and minerals that help keep your body healthy and satisfy your sweet tooth without sending you overboard. Ice cream or other sugary snacks have no redeeming qualities and will leave you wanting more.
Drink a glass of water
It’s incredible how often this trick works. If you are hungry following an adequate meal or have a longing for something sweet, try drinking a good old glass of water instead of heading to the pantry. Most of the time, your body is merely trying to tell you that it’s thirsty, so it is vital to listen carefully and stay hydrated.
Don’t keep it in the house
Think about it, are you more likely to eat that donut if it’s sitting out on your counter, or if you have to get in the car, drive to Krispy Kreme and buy it? We are creatures of convenience, and when you set up your life to make accessing sugar harder, you are not as easily tempted. Cleanse your pantry and fridge and stock healthy snacks such as fruits, vegetables, and nuts.
Go cold turkey
Though studies have shown that cold turkey isn’t the best method for everyone, it does work well for some people. If you’ve tried cutting down on your sugar and giving yourself a maximum daily allowance but are finding that you continually make excuses to go over it, it may be time to cut it out entirely. Going cold turkey could help you lose your appetite for sugar and retrain your brain so that you stop craving it. Though it will be difficult at first, the results will pay off in the long run. Remember, you cannot have any “cheat days” with cold turkey as it must be all or nothing.
Change your diet
Asses your diet from all angles and make sure that you are consuming enough lean protein and fiber. Vegetables, beans, legumes, and whole grains are great sources of fiber that help slow down the absorption of foods into the digestive tract, keeping you satisfied for longer.
How do you manage sugar cravings? Let us know in the comments below!