Sugar cravings are something we all experience. You have the best of intentions when you go to the shop to buy nutritious food, but you end up heading straight for the candy. When you have a sugar hunger your body is trying to tell you something. The strong cravings for particular meals, which typically involve indulging in something sweet, salty, creamy, crunchy, carb-filled, or fried, might be challenging to ignore. When something is on your mind, you feel compelled to have it. When we crave weird or unhealthy meals, it’s sometimes a sign that our diets are lacking in something. (Also read: Sugar cravings to fatigue: How poor digestion can impact your overall health )
Gut Health Nutritionist, Madisen, shared some useful insights on sugar cravings in her recent Instagram post.
1. You are stressed
Stressful times increase how quickly you burn calories and nutrients. It makes sense that when your body is under intense or chronic stress, it will crave sugar. It is looking for easy-to-digest sources of fuel. Sure, you can survive without the carbs, but this puts your body under more stress. It’s much easier to digest and assimilate carbs than protein or fat.
2. You are not eating enough
Calorie-restrictive diets can lead to intense sugar cravings because the body is not getting enough fuel to function optimally. Eating 1,800 calories or less, especially during times of stress, can lead to cravings as your body needs more energy and resources.
3. Your blood sugar is low
High carbohydrate diets without adequate amounts of protein and fat with meals can spike your blood sugar and lead to a blood sugar crash an hour or two later. When your blood sugar is low, this is incredibly stressful on the body. You might feel dizzy, hungry, irritable and crave sugar because your body is desperately looking for an easy source of fuel to raise your blood sugar quickly.
4. You are in your luteal phase
The luteal phase occurs after ovulation. This is typically around days 14-28 of your cycle. Progesterone levels rise, which increases metabolism, and your need for calories. This is by design. If you happened to get pregnant when you ovulated, your body wants to eat more within the luteal window to fuel up and prepare for a potential pregnancy.
5. You are eating artificial sugar
Artificial sugars can cause something called the cephalic phase insulin response. When our body tastes something sweet, it starts to produce hormones and enzymes to digest carbs. When there are no carbs, (like in the case of consuming artificial sugar) this can interfere with blood sugar, and hormone balance and cause more cravings for sugar.
6. Your body needs comfort and safety
The sweet taste is comforting and grounding. In Ayurveda, dates are often consumed before meals to help centre and ground individuals with more anxious, stressful and sporadic thoughts. Sometimes we need to find other sources of comfort and safety besides sweets which can help us get out of our heads and more into our bodies.
Foods to consume when you crave sugar : honey, cane sugar, maple syrup, jaggery, fresh fruit, dairy, dates, homemade baked goods/ice cream or sweets with healthy ingredients.