Sugar Cravings - Why We Desire Sweets and How to Stop Craving Sugar
What Are Sugar Cravings?
The human body can emit a lot of signals that we pick up on to improve our health and better ourselves. However, there are other times when the body can give off subtle, yet challenging alerts that we tend to ignore or push aside. In the world of health and wellness, sugar cravings are one of the most subtle and challenging signals that we get.
Generally speaking, people start craving sugar, act on it and then feel some guilt afterward, only to repeat the whole cycle all over again. Unfortunately, sugar cravings have a way of getting to people at just the right time of the day, and while some people can make quick changes and overcome them, others need a bit more help.
In this detailed guide, we look at what causes our desire for sugar, explore the reasons why you could be craving sweets and show you how to stop craving sugar with simple tips.
What Causes Sugar Cravings?
Nothing is worse than when you're suddenly overwhelmed with hunger, especially with sugary food. But, why do we start craving sweets out of nowhere? In this section, we look at what causes those frustrating sugar cravings.
The human body craves sugar for various reasons, and generally, each craving is different for each person. Your brain may experience an intense craving because it needs sugar for energy and to function properly. But beyond meeting a need, sugar cravings for adults tend to be habitual, rewarding or even just physiologic. Let’s take a look at what causes you to crave sugar when you do.
Your daily habits are formed deep within your brain, and while some sources may say that it takes 21 days to form a habit, the truth is any habit can form as long as the brain is satisfied with the end result. Certain neurochemicals in the brain can cause addiction to sugar, similar to that of illicit drugs, opioids and alcohol. In addition, changes in dopamine receptors in the brain appear to have an impact on sugar cravings, as described by a recent study on food addiction. When you experience some sort of happiness, dopamine is released which leads to feelings of euphoria. As a result of this hormone response, your brain can make you start craving sugar or sweets the same way it does with other harmful compounds like drugs and alcohol.
For example, consider the scenario where you grab a sugary coffee every morning before work. Because your body will begin to adjust to these cues every weekday morning, your mind will automatically write this into your daily routine. This is the quickest way to start habitual sugar cravings and even if you stopped getting coffee every workday, your brain would still crave the sugar that you would normally have at that time of the day.
Diet and Exercise
There is no right or wrong when it comes to your diet, but if you are constantly craving sweets, your diet could be less than optimal. If your diet already includes donuts, bagels, candy bars and soda, chances are your sugar cravings stem from these foods and beverages. As you eat more simple sugars, the vicious cycle of craving sugar becomes much more prominent and demanding.
In addition to your diet, exercise plays a large role in why we sometimes start craving sweets. Working out does quite a bit to your mind and body and, for the most part, you gain valuable rewards for your efforts. However, many people are also likely to experience sugar cravings following a workout. Some of the reasons for this include:
- Achieving a personal best on a run
- Lifting heavy weights
- Trying a new high-intensity interval training workout
Whatever the reason, you are likely to begin craving sugar to replenish depleted glycogen stores in your body. This would also be considered a pathologic or physiologic reason as to why you are having a craving and it serves a valuable need for the brain and cells.
Because the brain needs glucose to properly function, it makes sense that the brain will start craving sugar in order to get it. Although the body breaks down all carbohydrates into simple sugars, the brain could still crave this nutrient as a way to get what it wants, even if it doesn’t need it. This is often when you're experiencing low blood sugar.
Too often, adults looking to maintain any fitness at all use a reward system for motivation because it's a great way to push themselves to the next level. However, in the case of using sugar as a reward, this may not be the best idea. There is a lot of talk about how sugar addiction is similar to that of an illicit drug addiction. In fact, a 2007 study which compared a cocaine reward system and a sugar reward system showed that sugar cravings can be a stronger sensation than a desire for cocaine, even for cocaine addicts. So, before you start working out, make sure you understand the risks of rewarding yourself with savory treats.
The artificial sweetener debate has become much clearer in recent years. The use of these alternatives to sugar may save on calories, but they unfortunately trick the mind into thinking that you ate something extremely sweet — far sweeter than sugar. For this reason, your brain will begin craving sweets, foods or beverages that are as delicious as what you just had.
Reasons for Craving Sweets and What Our Body Is Telling Us
Did you know that missing a couple hours of sleep can contribute to sugar cravings? This section breaks down some of the common ways that we start to experience a desire to eat sugary sweets, as well as the accompanying signals from our bodies.
Now that you have some information on what causes your cravings and why you are having them, it's time to jump into some common reasons for craving sweets. Let's take a look at these reasons and what your body could also be trying to tell you about your sugar cravings.
Poor Sleep Quality
A common reason for sugar cravings is when you have poor sleep quality at night. Typically, the body needs a certain amount of REM and deep sleep as a way to replenish the mind and body. However, when you have inadequate amounts, your body is susceptible to craving sweets the following day.
Another reason for craving sugar could include high levels of stress throughout the day. While a little bit of stress in your day is considered healthy and necessary, chronic levels of high stress could lead to your sugar cravings increasing in intensity following your stressful event or day.
Meal Skipping, Malnourishment and Sugar Addiction
As a way to conserve calories for a future meal or to make up for being “bad” on a prior meal, some adults choose to skip meals. Admittedly, this seems like a logical way to prevent weight gain, but skipping meals can cause you to have sugar cravings. As a result, your body will begin telling you that you need to get more nourishment for your brain and the cells in your body. If you take notice of this sign, there is a chance that your blood sugar levels could be low to the point that it is harming your health.
Your body could also be sending signs that it is fully addicted to sweets and the sugar cravings you are having are a result of sugar addiction. If this is a signal you pick up on, it could indicate that perhaps you do not need sugar, but rather your brain is demanding you to satisfy its yearning for euphoria.
Are the kids out of the house and you have no idea what to do with yourself today? Or do you have a long drive ahead of you? If you start craving sweets, it could simply mean that you are bored and feel the need to eat sugary foods.
How to Stop Sugar Cravings
If you're tired of eating candy, ice cream or other sweets, we can show you how to stop sugar cravings effectively. Read our five tips on successfully minimizing cravings in this section.
Fighting and putting a stop to sugar cravings can be a challenge at the start. Initially, you may notice that your cravings are in a vicious cycle that only causes you to crave sugar more often. However, there are some things you can do to set your body up for success. Generally speaking, making a modification to your diet is necessary to succeed. Consider reading our article on what to eat when you are craving sugar for even more suggestions. Ready on to learn how to stop sugar cravings with our five tips below.
1. Eat More Fiber
Fiber is an underestimated ally that serves a valuable role in your health and wellness. High fiber intake tends to be associated with better colon and cardiovascular health, as well as a reduced risk of cancer and obesity. Unfortunately, the typical American diet is lacking in fiber — the average fiber intake for all Americans over the age of two is 16 grams a day, with women consuming about 18 grams daily and men 15 grams on average. Current guidelines recommend that adults consume between 25 and 30 grams of fiber every day. Fiber is a starchy substance that passes through the digestive system untouched, meaning that fiber is not processed at all in the stomach or intestine. Fiber helps to slow the absorption of the foods you eat and it can also help to curb sugar cravings you have by keeping you full for longer. Consider eating foods that are naturally high in fiber—like vegetables, beans, legumes, and whole grains —to help curb cravings.
2. Consume Lean Protein
Lean protein options are beneficial for health for a variety of reasons. Eating lean proteins such as salmon, halibut and chicken can help to fill you up at a meal and keep you feeling full for longer. This means that your blood sugar levels are better managed which means you're less likely to begin craving sugar before the next meal. Include lean protein options as much as you can to help fight off your sugar cravings.
3. Drink Enough Water
Your body is mostly made up of water; it is the most abundant substance in your body by far, which means you need to replenish your water stores as much as possible each day. Many of the body’s processes are associated with your overall hydration status. In addition, the more dehydrated you are, the greater the chances that you will have some hormonal imbalance. Your sugar cravings may occur as a result of being thirsty, so replenishing the water in your body is often a quick fix. Consider drinking about six to eight glasses each day to stay hydrated, and avoid sweetened drinks as much as possible.
4. Make Healthy Substitutions
The most common advice we offer on how to stop craving sugar is to swap healthy foods for unhealthy ones. This is perhaps the most challenging of all these options, but it is one of the most effective ways to cut out cravings. By switching out your chocolate or candies for some fresh fruit or vegetables, you are telling your brain that you no longer want to load up on sugar and you’ll avoid setting off sugar cravings as well. Consider cut-up fruit or vegetables as a snack, nuts to curb appetite or even hot tea (unsweetened of course) to turn your midday treats healthier.
5. Cut Out Artificial Sweeteners
Artificial sweeteners are quite common in today’s world, and now it seems more people are consuming more of the artificial product rather than sugar. Many of these users are attempting to cut sugar out of the diet to lose weight (by saving calories) and improve wellness. However, studies have shown that the use of artificial sweeteners in foods and beverages can lead to weight gain, as well as strengthen and encourage sugar cravings and dependence. With this in mind, it seems that one of the best ways to cut out sugar cravings from your life once and for all is to stop eating both sugar and artificial sweeteners. While this lifestyle change may take some time to completely master, the rewards will be worth it when successful.
Curb Sugar Cravings and Stop Craving Sweets with Products from Sweet Defeat
Sugar cravings can be a challenging part of your everyday life, and when they set in, they can take over your mind quickly. While a sugar craving can happen to anyone at any time, it's not impossible to break away from the strong desires you feel and start a healthier diet.
That's where Sweet Defeat can help. Our innovative products are designed to rid strong sugar cravings before they can even occur. We offer natural lemon and mint lozenges, as well as other fine products to keep you from craving sweets. If you're ready to rid sugar from your life entirely, or simply moderate it, check out our online store today to get started.