Do you love the taste of something sweet? Do you constantly have sugar cravings?
Even though we know sugar is not a nutritious choice, our body can frequently crave it. And often, it can be hard to resist the sugar cravings. We can crave sugar for several reasons, the main reasons being low blood sugar, high stress levels and low energy.
Eating too much sugar (like chocolate muffins, fizzy drinks and chocolate cake) creates a surge of feel-good brain chemicals dopamine and serotonin. Just like a drug, your body craves sugar more after the initial high, because you become addicted to that feeling, so every time you eat it you want to eat more. Too much sugar raises your blood sugar levels, causing your pancreas to release insulin in an attempt to bring this level down. When more and more insulin circulates in your blood stream, your body attempts to convert sugar into fat and stores it as an energy reserve, which can cause weight gain. The more sugar you eat, the more insulin is produced, which can lead to health problems such as insulin resistance and type-2 diabetes.
Feeling sluggish all the time, or always being hungry or thirsty can all be signs you’ve been binging on too much sugar. Additionally, if you are only eating simple sugars, you will not get enough of the other nutrients to sustain your energy, like protein and fiber.
Do you need as much sugar as you think? Not really. Actually something you can do is train your taste buds to enjoy foods that are not too sweet and slowly cut sugary foods out so that you don’t feel the need to eat something sweet all the time.
Here’s what you can do:
- If you are having tea or coffee, slowly cut down the added sugar and syrups that are often added to such drinks (if you already drink black coffee, or tea without any sugar, then well done!).
- Cut out one sweet food from your nutrition plan each week.
- If you are the type to eat something sweet after main meals, perhaps choose 1 meal a day to avoid having something sweet after finishing this meal.
- Increase protein intake. A high protein intake can make you feel full for longer and doesn’t raise blood sugar levels like refined carbs and sugars.
- Increase fiber intake through fruits and vegetables. Like protein, fiber can make you full for longer, control your sugar cravings and maintain your blood sugar levels.
- Drink more water. Sometimes the body isn’t craving sugar, it’s craving water.
- Choose healthier sweet options such as fruits, dried fruits, flavored yogurt (with no added sugar), dark chocolate and protein bars.
- Exercise. Once you exercise, you’ll start to change the way you eat.
- Limit the healthy sugars like brown sugar and honey. Even though a food like honey may have benefits, it’s still a simple sugar at the end of the day.
Sugar cravings affect everyone. The key to dealing with them is knowing why you’re getting them in the first place and making necessary changes to lessen them in the future, and then having a healthy plan in place to deal with them in a conscious manner when they pay you a visit.