Sugar is a no-brainer for most people when it comes to comfort foods. It’s a simple and affordable way to add sweetness, flavour and pleasure to food, which is why it’s so addictive.
Once you start eating sugar regularly, your body starts to crave it. This means that you’ll feel an intense desire for sugar even if you don’t have any in your diet. It can be tough to resist these cravings, especially if you’re used to eating a lot of sugar.
So why do we crave sugar and what does it tell us about our internal health?
Sugar cravings as a side effect of foods
You may not realize it, but your sugar cravings could be due to side effects from other foods you have recently eaten. Many packaged snack foods contain hidden sugars and additives which can trigger cravings for more.
Eating these foods also causes spikes in your blood sugar levels which can lead to cravings and ultimately, sugar addiction.
Inadequate protein and fat can trigger sugar cravings
Adding some protein and fat to every meal can help balance out your blood sugar levels and reduce cravings.
This is because eating insufficient fat and protein or too much refined carbohydrate reduces your production of the digestive hormone cholecystokinin (CCK). CCK reduces huger and the desire for carbs.
Insulin resistance, chronic stress, and insufficient sleep can cause sugar cravings
Chronic stress and insufficient sleep can have a major impact on your body. They are both known causes of non-diet related insulin resistance and consequent, sugar cravings.
When your body doesn’t respond effectively to insulin reduces the amount of sugar that can get into your cells. When this happens, your body starts to crave sugary foods because the cells need the glucose to function properly.
There have been many studies that show that people who don’t get enough sleep crave junk food and sugary foods the next day.
Insulin resistance, low neurotransmitters and sugar cravings
Besides glucose insulin is needed to transport amino acids into cells to make neurotransmitters such as dopamine and serotonin. Insulin resistance therefore leads to lower neurotransmitter levels.
Studies have shown low serotonin levels are linked to sugar cravings as sugar fuels serotonin. So when feeling sad, medicating with sugar helps lift your emotional state.
Low dopamine levels also leads to sugar cravings because dopamine is your ‘reward’ neurotransmitter. Eating sugar triggers your reward response.
Broken fat burning and sugar cravings
When your mitochondria can’t burn fat for energy then you’ll crave sugar as an alternate fuel source and a way to get energy.
Mineral deficiencies can trigger sugar cravings too
Magnesium and chromium are critical for blood sugar balance. And if your iron is low you’ll feel tired and crave sugar.
3 ways to fix sugar cravings
The first place to get sugar cravings under control is with your diet. Limit your intake of processed carbohydrates and refined sugars and fill your diet with nutrient-rich whole foods.
Secondly, eat regularly and at consistent times. If you go too long without eating you will get hungry and crave sugar.
Thirdly, get at a minimum of 7 hours of sleep a night.
Lastly, test to see if your mineral levels are sufficient, your mitochondria can burn fat, your stress hormone levels are optimal and you don’t have insulin resistance.
We can help you get all of these checked and fix any that are broken or depleted. All you need to do is either call, 02 9524 2471, or click here
to schedule a consultation with one of our naturopaths.
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