Why we crave sugar & the best ways to beat it
Updated: Apr 4
We will take a look at the science behind why we crave sugar and solutions to limit it while still enjoying a sweet treat sometimes. The American Heart Association recommends minimizing sugar to no more than 6 percent of calories every day. However, consuming high amounts of sugar is associated with unhealthy diet quality, obesity, and risk for chronic disorders such as type 2 diabetes. Consuming a varied diet that is fresh and healthy will help to prevent sugar cravings.
Studies have shown that sugar intake causes the release of dopamine which causes that feeling of a sugar high after you eat a piece of cake. Dopamine plays an important role in the motivational area of our reward centers, thus regulating emotional responses. Research suggests that when a person eats highly sugary food, there's a rise in dopamine release and we feel satisfied. When we eat sugar, insulin moves up in the primitive parts of our brain which is the reward pathway.
This leads to an increased rise in dopamine release and turns our behavior of consuming sugar into a regular habit. Serotonin plays an important role in regulating mood. When an individual is stressed or anxious, our bodies crave it. Reduced levels of serotonin in the brain cause sugar cravings.
A meal inadequate in essential filling nutrients
Not consuming a balanced filling diet also leads to sugar cravings. A study conducted by Yale researchers found that blood sugar fell when eating a diet that was inadequate in protein, fats, and fiber. It is necessary to consume a balanced meal comprising of complex carbohydrates, healthy fats, and proteins which helps to give a steady stream of energy to your body. Lack of certain nutrients and minerals such as magnesium, iron, calcium, and zinc also leads to sugar cravings. An article published in nutrients suggested that magnesium deficiency is associated with increased stress and anxiety. According to the National Library of Medicine, magnesium is required for more than 300 biochemical reactions in the body. It helps in maintaining nerve function which supports healthy immune function.
Stress Connection: A 2016 research study found that the hormone ghrelin was released when individuals were under stress. Our body responds to stress by secreting hormones that are related to food cravings. Stress causes unhealthy food intake which leads to various health disorders.
Lack of sleep: A lack of sleep is related to overeating fast junk food and craving foods that are sweet and salty.
Blood sugar connection: Blood sugar fluctuations can lead to increased sweet cravings. When there is a drop in blood sugar, your body tries to get you to provide it with more fuel to keep blood sugar levels stable. To keep your blood sugar stable, it is highly recommended to consume complex carbohydrates with healthy lean proteins and more high-fiber foods. Increased consumption of sugar is tied to other side effects that include oxidative stress ( tissue-damaging free radicals within the body) and glycation where glucose happens to stick to proteins leading to numerous health conditions in the body.
Dehydration: A lack of water intake can make it difficult for the body to metabolize the stored glucose for energy, thus making us crave sugar to provide us with an instant source of energy when it is necessary to drink a little more fluids.
Digestion: Our digestive system is an ecosystem of bacteria and microorganisms. A lack of good bacteria ( beneficial) leads to the rise of yeast in the intestinal tract which thrives on sugar. The sugar craving might be due to the overgrowth of bad bacteria.
How to beat the sugar cravings
Plan meals with proteins: Eat fiber and protein at each meal to increase your metabolism. In this way, your appetite remains steady and leads to fewer cravings according to the endocrine web. It is the most essential tool you could have on your plate. Both fiber and protein help to slow down sugar absorption which helps in preventing blood sugar spikes that would make you crave more sugar. Healthy fats such as nuts and seeds and lean proteins such as eggs and tofu can be consumed to balance your meals. Moreover, they help you to keep fuller for a longer duration. Protein is an essential building block and plays a vital role in balancing our blood sugar levels.
Seek health coach support: A lot of people turn to food when they are stressed or anxious. However, food does not solve emotional issues. It is best practice to seek support from health advisors who can suggest different dietary plans to help reduce your sugar cravings. A health coach can help determine if you are lacking in certain nutrients or vitamins and help you manage your food goals healthily. The Lifetrons Health App has everything that you need to keep fit, track your activities, and plan your diet. Ask your dietitian to connect with us at email@example.com for more information and a special dietitian app.
Good adequate sleep is essential: Research suggests that getting enough quality sleep can help raise energy levels while reducing sugar cravings. Quality and quantity of rest are both essential elements in overall health. According to National Sleep Foundation, it is suggested to sleep around 7 to 9 hours each night. Sleep deprivation raises the production of hunger hormones called ghrelin. Hence, it is important to manage your sleep schedule properly. For more information on sleep and obesity, read our article "The connection between sleep and obesity & ways to manage it easily."
Eating sweets mindfully: Sweets in moderation can be a part of a healthy diet. A principle of Intuitive Eating suggests making peace with food. It suggests that if you deprive yourself of certain foods, it leads to more cravings. This craving cycle and deprivation can result in overeating those foods. It is recommended to chew your foods slowly to experience them will all of your senses.
Hydration is the key: It has been underscored to consume a sufficient amount of water. It helps to maintain the core temperature and helps in flushing out toxins. Low water intake can make you anxious and raise the cravings for sweets. It helps to improve digestion and helps in keeping us active. To track your hydration level, Lifetrons Health App is a good tool to monitor.
Keeping your blood sugar stable: Stable blood sugar levels can help in minimizing sugar cravings. To keep it within limits, it is recommended not to skip meals and to include foods containing low glycemic index foods in your food plan. Foods containing low glycemic index are digested and absorbed slowly by your body resulting in a gradual rise in your blood sugar levels. This process helps to stabilize your blood sugar levels and prevent them from rising and dropping. Include foods such as oats, wholegrain bread, and lentils in your diet.
Exercise is the key: It is recommended to involve in some kind of exercise like cycling, walking, running, etc. which helps to release endorphins ( happy hormones) which can help reduce your sweet cravings.
Consume soluble fiber foods: Soluble fibers which are found in vegetables and grains such as legumes and seeds swell with water in your gut and help in keeping you fuller. It can help stabilize your blood sugar levels and help manage your sugar cravings. For more information, read our article " Importance of dietary fiber."
Strive for a healthy weight: When you are committed to managing your weight, you have fewer food cravings. It means that you are feeding your body the correct healthy foods which play an important role in maintaining your health goals and curbing sugar cravings too. For more information, read our article " 3 PROMISING SCIENTIFIC STEPS TO LOSE WEIGHT AT HOME NATURALLY".
The Lifetrons Health App has everything that you need to keep fit, track your activities, and plan your diet. Ask your dietitian to connect with us at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information and a special dietitian app.
Consume chromium-rich foods: According to the academy of culinary nutrition, it has been indicated that chromium can help improve blood glucose levels and lower hunger levels, and aid in weight management too. Foods such as oats, broccoli, green beans, and mushrooms are excellent sources of chromium.
These powerful solutions can help with sugar cravings and help achieve your health goal effectively.
Disclaimer: The blog is generated for informative purposes. Views expressed in the blog are personal and belong to the author of the blog. Lifetrons is just publishing it on behalf of the author.