Sugar cravings can destroy our weight loss plans. Here are seven reasons we might be craving something sweet to eat.
If we are not getting enough of the following minerals, Calcium, zinc chromium or magnesium we may find ourselves craving a sweet fix according to Laura Kunces PhD. RD in her November 2018 article called “The Science behind Sugar Cravings”. Deficiencies or imbalances in these minerals can result in our body craving sugar. Taking a multi vitamin tablet, which includes these minerals, can make sure we are getting what our body needs.
Some cravings are caused by habit. For instance, if we always have a sweet fix when we arrive home from work, then we will start to crave sugar at that time. This is because we have developed a habit. If we keep a record of our sugar cravings for a few days, we will quickly see if there are any patterns that have crept in to our lifestyle. Once we have recognized a habit, we can work on changing it.
Low protein intake is another cause of sugar craving. Protein and fats cause a slow sugar release into the blood stream. If we don’t eat enough protein, then blood sugar levels can rise and fall at an abnormal rate. The result is that our body craves quick energy from sugar. To fix this problem, we need to check we are having protein with our three main meals.
Simple carbohydrates can also cause sweet cravings. Simple carbohydrates include things like white bread, biscuits, spaghetti, sweets, etc,. Simple carbohydrates enter the bloodstream fast, raising blood sugar levels fast, which subsequently raises levels of the hormone insulin. Having high levels of insulin in the body can lead to sugar cravings. That is why eating simple carbohydrates does not satisfy us (We have all eaten half a packet of biscuits and still felt hungry, right). We need to eat protein, fat and fibre to feel satisfied.
When we eat sugar, it increases the levels of serotonin in the brain. Serotonin is a hormone that makes us feel happy temporarily. This means our brain learns to crave sugar, because it likes the serotonin “hit”. But we can get serotonin from other foods including green tea, walnuts, eggs, cheese, or by increasing our levels of exercise.
A note on artificial sweeteners. According to Laura Kunces, research shows, artificial sweeteners act like sugar (a simple carbohydrate) and result in the same cravings being generated. There does appear to be some debate about this however. For myself, I still drink the odd fizzy drink with artificial sweetener in it. (You get to make your own decision about this).
Lack of sleep can cause sugar cravings because it interferes with hormone balances (see my Blog “Is lack of sleep trashing your weight loss goal?”). The hormones that are most affected are insulin, Leptin, Ghrelin, and Cortisol. So we need to make sure we are getting 6 hours or more sleep a night.
If we eliminate all the above reasons for craving sugar, we should find staying on your healthy eating plan, much easier.
By Lynda Timperley BTCH, Dip psych, Cert life coaching
Member of ANZCAL (Australia and New Zealand coaching alliance)