There are many reasons behind sugar cravings. When these cravings occur, our body tends to reach for highly refined and processed foods such as biscuits, chocolate, lollies, soft drink…and the list goes on! These foods may make us feel good, most of the time, they they don’t actually stop our cravings in the long run. They actually provide a negative effect where the bodies blood sugar levels spike, and not long after, drop quickly. This creates another craving…and the cycle goes on.
Common causes for sugar cravings include…🡪
- Conditioning: When foods are consumed that are high in added sugar, this stimulates the brains reward system and helps reduce our cortisol levels, making us feel happier and less stressed. This creates a sugar craving cycle, we feel stressed or unhappy, we eat something sweet, feel better & then repeat.
- Low blood sugar levels: When our sugar levels drop too low, we can crave sugar (usually if we skip a meal or avoid carbohydrates).
- Seeing, smelling or thinking about sweet foods: When we see, smell or think about high sugar foods that we like, we tend to crave them.
How to curb the sugar cravings? 🡪
- Keep your blood sugar levels stable: Don’t skip meals and make sure you include Low Glycaemic Index (GI) foods in your meals and snacks (oats, wholegrains, lentils, milk, yoghurt, and many fruits incl. banana, berries and kiwi fruit)
- Eat high-fibre foods: Soluble fibre (found in fruit, veggies and grains), swells with water in the stomach and helps you feel full. It can stabilise your blood sugar levels and help you manage sugar cravings.
- Don’t keep sweets in the house: Whilst you don’t need to avoid your favourite treats altogether, it can be easier to manage cravings when they are not within reach. Instead, it could be worth baking your own healthy muffins or chopping up some fresh fruit.
- Find the reason for your sugar cravings: Is it because you skipped a meal or is it due to stress, tiredness or boredom? If stressed, go for a walk, listen to music, talk to a friend or seek professional assistance. If bored, find something non-food related to keep your mind entertained
- Eat protein-based snacks: Protein assists in stabilising blood sugar levels and keeps you feeling full. Include a protein source in main meals and snacks
- Don’t avoid fruit: Fruit includes natural sugars with other nutrients like fibre, vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and phytochemicals. Healthy amounts of natural sugar can help manage cravings.
- Move your body: Getting the body moving releases endorphins and helps increase serotonin levels. This can make you feel happier and in turn help reduce cravings.
- Drink water: Dehydration can often be confused with sugar cravings. If you feel a craving coming on, drink a big glass of water and then re-asses if you still want sugar.