Diet enthusiasts know the term “cravings” very well – the compulsive desire for a certain type of food – and for those who want to lose weight, craving for sweet foods might be an impediment. You might be surprised to know the real reasons for your sugar cravings and how to stop craving sweets.
In this post I am going to be dealing with sugar cravings, even though all the information and tips I am going to be giving prove effective when it comes to battle craving for carbs and junk-food too.
If we want to be able to manage the cravings for certain types of foods we shouldn’t eat, we have to better understand what triggers these cravings.
9 surprising reasons for your sugar cravings
Craving for food (sweet, salty or fat) has nothing to do with hunger and is triggered in areas of our brain responsible for memory, pleasure and gratification.
#1 – A hormonal imbalance (either of leptin – also called “the hormone of energy expenditure” and helps to regulate energy balance by inhibiting hunger; or serotonin – helps regulate mood, social behavior, appetite, digestion, sleep, memory, sexual desire etc.), as well as failing to manage our own emotions and stress may cause a strong craving for sweet foods.
#2 – Dieting – in people who follow strict diets, that completely eliminate certain foods, the feeling of deprivation takes the form of an unstoppable desire for “forbidden foods” (be it sweets or junk food).
Apart from strict diets and emotional eating, sugar cravings may also depend on other factors, such as:
#3 – The way our body communicates to us about the deficiency in essential nutrients, like antioxidants, vitamins and minerals. For instance, craving for chocolate is often related to a deficiency of magnesium, chrome and group B vitamins (chocolate contains large quantities of these nutrients).
#4 – Your body may not be hydrated enough – if so, a glass of water would soothe the craving for sweet foods.
#5 – Lack of energy – sugar is a source of ready-to-use energy, this is the reason why when we feel tired and drained we crave for sweet foods. A very strict diet and an insufficient calorie intake may cause a lack of energy. It is important not to overdo with restrictions, as craving for sweet foods may mean our body needs a change in our diet.
#6 – A diet poor in fiber, protein and fat is another reason why we crave for sweets, especially ice cream.
#7 – An extremely salty meal or eating too many savory snacks may cause the desire to eat something sweet.
#8 – Lack of sleep. If we don’t have enough rest and don’t sleep enough our hormones go into a tailspin, causing us to crave for sugar.
#9 – Craving for sweets is typical of the pre-menstrual period and during pregnancy. It is all about hormones. Before the period, cortisol levels (the stress hormone) rise, whereas the serotonin production (the good mood hormone) decreases, causing sugar cravings. During pregnancy, on the other hand, the production of the hormones affecting appetite rises.
Our body is a very smart “machine” and communicates with us through symptoms. Craving for sweets is one of them. It is important to be able to listen to the messages our body sends, for us to understand how to make it work to the best.
A few tips on how to stop craving sweets:
#1 – Be aware of your own emotions:
Being sincere with ourselves and trying to change a situation that doesn’t make us feel comfortable is very important in battling cravings.
Try to understand what really leads you to want to eat sweet foods. Once you know what the emotional trigger is, it will be easier for you to fight sugar cravings.
#2 – Don’t make it a habit:
Eating a dessert after lunch or a piece of cake with your afternoon tea may be difficult habits to eradicate. Our brain “gets fond” of the idea of having its daily dose of sugar and if this daily dose is absent, our brain rebels and makes us feel such strong cravings that are difficult to manage.
#3 – Drink more water:
Sometimes our body confuses dehydration with hunger. If you feel like eating something sweet, try drinking a glass of water to see if it is the reason.
#4 – Try doing something fun:
Find an interesting hobby, like reading, listening to music, gardening – it is a very good way to get your mind off and manage your cravings.
#5 – Schedule meals in order to avoid hunger pangs:
Scheduling meals properly during the day and eating a sufficient calorie amount, with well-balanced supply of macronutrients (protein, carbs and fat) is helpful in battling cravings.
#6 – Stress management:
Stress is harmful to both our emotional and physical health and to our shape. Being aware of our own stress levels is highly important when it comes to managing food addictions.
#7 – Get enough sleep:
Sleeping 7-8 hours a night might be an effective remedy to battle sugar cravings.
#8 – Don’t buy groceries on an empty stomach:
Supermarkets are definitely the worst place for a hungry person. The wide array of groceries, with unhealthy foods placed within sight compared to healthy foods, makes our desire for food an actual obsession.
#9 – Do more exercise:
You don’t have to go to the gym, it is enough to take a 30-minute walk a day to feel better and relaxed. Physical exercise promotes serotonin production and surely is helpful when it comes to craving for food management.
As you have seen, craving for sweet foods is just a symptom of internal imbalances going on, which might result in even more serious consequences.
The sugar cravings can be easily managed by eating the right foods.
What foods to eat to stop craving sweets:
#1 – Foods rich in proteins, healthy fats and fiber.
#2 – Fresh fruit, seeds and shelled fruit.
#3 – Foods rich in tryptophan (to boost the serotonin production): turkey, eggs, salmon, almonds…
#4 – Honey: it contains glucose, that tells our brain to switch orexin off. Orexin is a brain chemical which plays a key role in regulating sleep, wakefulness and appetite, a substance known as it causes a state of alertness.
If these tips don’t prove effective and don’t help you stop those sugar cravings, there are also some natural remedies, known for their action on appetite and hunger. Here are a few.
How to stop craving sweets with natural remedies?
Garcinia Cambodia – boosts the serotonin production, thus soothing the sense of hunger. What is more, this plant helps to transform sugars in energy rather than in fat.
Glucomannan – a dietary fiber. It is usually made from the root of the konjac plant. Glucommanan powder, capsules, and tablets are used as medicine. It works in the stomach and intestines by absorbing water to form a bulky fiber, used as an appetite suppressor and to treat constipation. Glucomannan may also slow the absorption of sugar and cholesterol from the gut, helping to control sugar levels in diabetes, and reducing cholesterol levels.
Passionflower – famous for its action on stress and emotional eating.
Melissa – has a mild antidepressant activity and, like passionflower, has an anxiolytic and relaxing effect.
Rhodiola Rosea – very effective in balancing serotonin levels and boosting mood.
Acai berries – make you feel full and decrease the sense of hunger.
Apart from these remedies, if you want to battle cravings effectively, taking supplements of magnesium and group B vitamins might be of help.
Knowing the real reasons for your sugar cravings is the first step in choosing the most appropriate and effective way to fight and stop craving sweets.
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