Let’s face it; sweets are enticing and such a delight to indulge in. These days they come in various flavors, shapes, and packages and they are everywhere! Even at gas stations. Oh boy! That kinda makes it hard to stick to a no sugar diet if I am being truthful. And then there’s the demand of our everyday lives and how much we need energy boosts and turn to sugar midway through the day as a quick fix to keep our energy levels elevated. But munching on sugary snacks just makes you crave even more sugary foods. When you feast on simple carbohydrates, to either satisfy hunger on the go or give your body a short-lived energy boost, without supplementing with proteins and healthy fats you simply dig yourself into a “crave cycle”. And the crash afterward is real, the sweet tooth development as well. Did I mention health implications? No? Well, there are health implications to bingeing on high sugar diets but I’ll talk about that later in this article.
But the sugar craving is not peculiar to you in any way. It’s a universal thing. Research shows that the sweet tooth is prevalent in all cultures of the world, no matter their inclinations or beliefs, and has played a vital role in human evolution. Even with the knowledge of the negative impact of sugar on human health and wellbeing, it is observed that humans still find it difficult to cut it off or regulate its intake.
While it is extremely important to eat a diet with naturally occurring sugars, many foods, however, contain harmful processed sugars that have no nutritional content at all. These types of sugars are included in food products during the processing or preparation. Processed or added sugars are referred to by many names which include invert sugar, molasses, corn syrup, malt sugar, sucrose, etc. these sugars while adding various flavors to foods are nutritionally deficient and may add no nutritional value to the consumer. They are found in processed and high-calorie foods such as cookies, sodas, sweetened yogurt, and even cream fillings. Naturally sweet foods like fruit and milk also contain sugar, but they contain important nutrients unlike foods with added sugar. These nutrients, such as fiber and protein, help slow the release of sugar.¹
Why Do We Crave Sugar?
Scientists have long believed that cravings for carbohydrates and other sugary foods are driven by a desire to improve mood because consuming sweet treats increases serotonin levels in your brain.² Serotonin can also be increased by consuming certain vegetables and whole grains, but the sweet taste of sugar also makes it very appealing and easy to consume to a very unhealthy extent. The taste of sugar also releases endorphins that have a calming and relaxing effect.
According to a study conducted, the brain releases heroin-like chemicals called endogenous opioids when an individual indulges in sweet, salty, or fatty foods.³
The average American consumes about 22 teaspoons of added or processed sugars per day as against the recommended daily intake allowance of 5-6 teaspoons per day for women and 9 for men.
But worrying about your sugar intake doesn’t have to dominate your life and snatch your inner peace. Here are a few holistic ways to combat your cravings and live a healthier, wholesome life.
5 Ways to Fight Sugar Cravings
- Balance Your Meals: consuming a meal that lacks a healthy balance of proteins, fiber, carbohydrates, and fats can leave you craving sugar a few hours later. For example, when you eat a high sugar content meal but low in fiber or healthy fats, you end up feeling hungry a few hours later and craving sweets. When we find ourselves craving sugar, we readily turn to simple carbohydrates which the body then breaks down into sugar. These simple carbohydrates like biscuits, bread, or pastry are digested rapidly by the body and you end up feeling hungry again. And the cycle continues. But having a balanced meal with the inclusion of healthy fats, proteins and fibers helps break this cycle as these are digested slower by the body, extending the time in which you start to feel hungry. Healthy fats and protein sources such as peanuts, beans, eggs, tofu, fish, butter, avocados, nuts, and grains should be included in your diet plan.
- Balance Your Blood Sugar Levels: If your blood sugar is irregular or alternating between high and low throughout the day, you will most likely crave sugar. A common sign of low blood sugar is a decrease in energy levels as well as an intense craving for sugars or an associated source, which in this case are carbohydrates. A great way to prevent blood sugar highs and lows would be to avoid skipping meals, especially breakfast, as this would lead to a drop in blood sugar levels and lead to sugar cravings. Have your breakfast within an hour of waking up. When you wake up in the morning, your blood sugar is lower because you have been fasting all night. If you eat within one hour of waking up, it helps to stabilize your blood sugar and insulin levels. A great breakfast tip would be to include Gymnema leaf tea into your breakfast list. It supports healthy blood sugar levels as well as boosts insulin production and can help reduce sugar cravings for the rest of the day.*
- Reach for fruit: Have a fruit stock or lunch pack handy, filled with nuts, dried or fresh fruits, and seeds for when you experience sugar cravings at any point in your day. This is especially rewarding to both your senses and your body. You get to satisfy your craving from the sweet taste as well as nourish your body with nutrients and fiber.
- Get Good Sleep: the recommended sleep time for an adult is between 7-9 hours a night. Getting quality sleep time cannot be talked about enough. Good sleep boosts energy levels, memory, and supports mood control. Quantity and quality of rest are both important factors in overall health. If you are getting enough sleep, but not sleeping well, you could still experience sugar cravings. To improve sleep quality, address any sleep inhibitors and create healthy sleep habits. Great recommendations for improving sleep include taking a cup of tea infused with Herbal Goodness Guava leaf tea, reducing screen time, and beginning to wind down about 30-60 minutes before bed to promote restful sleep.
- Manage Stress: With the ever-growing needs and demands of our daily lives, the fact that stress can trigger sugar cravings comes as no surprise. When we eat sweets, our brain releases a hormone called dopamine which is associated with feelings of enjoyment and pleasure. When we get stressed, we may reach for sugar to have that associated feeling and brief respite but that has a negative impact in the long run. By effectively managing your stress levels you reduce your sugar cravings. Another great way to promote calm support and relaxation is to take the Herbal Goodness Graviola leaf extract capsules. Graviola may help reduce stress and tension and help alleviate the occasional blue feeling everyone experiences from time to time
A holistic approach to our health calls for us to be mindful and intentional about not just our fitness routine, but our dietary intake as well. What we consume and how we consume it matters in our health and wellness journey.
- Bastyr University Blog. 4 Tips to Naturally Reduce Sugar Cravings. Accessed on January 28, 2021.
- www.verywellfit.com. How to Help Curb Sugar Cravings. Accessed on March 4, 2021.
- independent.co.uk.10 Simple Ways to Manage Your Sugar Cravings; According To a Nutritionist. Accessed on June 4, 2018.