Do you love the taste of something sweet? Are you constantly wanting more? Even though we know sugar is not a nutritious choice, our body can frequently crave it. And often, it can be hard to resist the sugar cravings. Integrative Nutrition Health Coach Beth Romanski of My Healthy Transitions Health Coaching explains seven surprising sugar craving causes in your diet and lifestyle that you can identify and control.
The Causes of Sugar Cravings
As a 21 day sugar detox coach , I often meet with people who say they have a “sugar problem,” but they just “can’t” give up sugar. I believe it. Truth is, when it comes to sugar, it’s not just about willpower. Sugar is truly addictive, and it takes a lot of work to break the cycle. A good place to start is by trying to understand these sugar craving causes. You just might be surprised.
Here is list of some surprising sugar craving causes. Once you understand what’s causing your addiction, you can work to achieve the food freedom you may desperately be seeking.
1. Magnesium Deficiency
Did you know there may be a physical reason for your sugar cravings causes and especially your chocolate cravings? Many people don’t realize that the root cause of sugar cravings is actually a micronutrient deficiency. Our bodies are intelligent systems designed to keep us alive, so when we need a specific nutrient, we often crave foods that contain the missing nutrient. And chocolate is a rich source of magnesium, so that might be the reason for those strong chocolate and sugar cravings causes.
Make sure to have your vitamin levels checked, but next time you are craving chocolate, instead of reaching for the usual sugary option, I suggest enjoying unsweetened cacao powder or 100 percent unsweetened dark chocolate. Both are naturally sugar free so you won’t spike your blood glucose, feeding the craving cycle, yet you’ll still feel satisfied with a similar taste. Or if you want to cut out all chocolate, you can opt for non-sugar, whole-food magnesium sources like nuts, seeds, beans and dark leafy greens as alternatives to help make your cravings subside.
2. Gut Imbalance
Another sugar craving cause can be the result of an imbalance in your gut health. Believe it or not, the trillions of bacteria living in our gut control more of our state of health than we may realize, which is why a healthy gut is so critical to overall wellness. When you eat a lot of sugary and processed foods, all the bacteria in your digestive system actually end up feeding on the sugar in your diet, only making the problem worse with the more sugar you eat.
The best way to restore your gut health is to reduce the amount of processed foods and sugar in your diet. A sugar detox is a great way to jump start this—it gives your digestive system a break from sugars and too many carbs. You may be surprised to see that once you eliminate sugar for even seven days, you will have reduced your sugar cravings substantially and you might not even miss the sugar anymore! In addition to cutting out sugar, add in probiotic-rich foods like raw sauerkraut, unsweetened keifer and supplement with a high-quality probiotic.
I also regularly recommend Further Food Collagen Peptides to my clients because it’s the only 100 percent pure protein supplement that doesn’t have any junky artificial sweeteners that contribute to sugar cravings. Collagen is important because it can help boost your gastric juices and help restore the integrity and health of the gut’s lining. Collagen also contains important amino acids that are key to repairing a damaged intestinal lining. Plus the added protein will keep you full longer and help beat those sugar cravings causes.
3. Poor Sleep
Even if you have the best intentions to eat healthy, we all know how we feel if we haven’t had enough sleep—our ability to make decisions is compromised because our brain is seeking out energy from glucose-containing foods. And inadequate sleep does something much deeper than make you grumpy. It can be what causes your sugar cravings. Research has shown that poor sleep impacts your hormones: it increases ghrelin (the hunger hormone) and reduces leptin (the hormone that allows you to feel satiated), making sleep deprivation another one of the major sugar craving causes. So when you’re sleep deprived, you’re fighting an uphill battle because it gets harder and harder to fight the sugar craving causes.
Prioritize your sleep. Get into a routine where you aim for seven to eight hours a night, every night. This may sound hard, but if you want to feel better and have more energy and fewer cravings, you need to put your health first.
We all know that when we’re stressed, we are more apt to make emotional food choices to soothe our mood. And sugar is like a drug. It increases our levels of dopamine—the feel good hormone. What you might not realize, though, is that stress can actually raise your blood glucose all on its own, regardless of what you eat. Yes, you heard me right! Being stressed causes more insulin to be released by the pancreas to clear that glucose from your bloodstream. Excess glucose and insulin are problematic and can lead to weight gain, insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes.
We are ALL stressed to some extent with the way the world is today, but knowing that stress can be the cause of your sugar cravings, it’s important to incorporate lifestyle strategies into your daily routine. Try yoga or meditation. Or even just going for a walk outside can help.
5. Too Many Artificial Sweeteners
People often think they are doing a good thing by switching to artificial sweeteners because they are calorie-free, but these artificial sweeteners condition our taste buds to crave more sweet foods, making them a sugar cravings cause. Plus, they can actually confuse our bodies’ signals and end up raising our blood sugar. When we eat something sweet without the food or nutrition to go along with it, our blood glucose drops too low, causing that “hangry” and shaking feeling. And, to make matters worse, regular consumption of artificial sweeteners has been known to cause gut impermeability and digestive distress, which contributes to gut imbalance (#2 above!)
What to do? Look for an natural alternative. Skip the diet sodas. Try putting unsweetened almond milk in your coffee instead of a creamer, or have a piece of fruit as a snack!
6. Low-Fat/Fat-Free Foods
During the low-fat diet craze, many processed foods were developed to remove fat because that’s what would sell… but guess what was added to make them still taste good? Sugar! Sugar still continues to be added to a lot of packaged foods as a preservative to make them last longer on the shelf. So eating low-fat foods with added sugar can actually cause sugar cravings!
Eliminate all processed foods from your diet. I tell my clients to JERF and “just eat real food” if they want to kick their sugar cravings to the curb.
7. Eating too Many “Natural” Foods with Added Sugars
Sugar is a sneaky thing! There are more than 60 names for sugar that you may be totally unaware of. But no matter where where sugar comes from, even a natural source like raw honey or maple syrup, it’s all converted to glucose in the body. Even if you follow a vegan, Paleo, or otherwise “clean eating” type of diet, you may still be consuming a lot of added sugar, or eating foods that convert the same way to glucose in the body without even realizing it.
Read the labels on everything you eat. The best way to eliminate your sugar cravings causes is to limit all sugars, even “natural” sweeteners like honey or dates.
The Importance of a Sugar Detox
I know this is A LOT of information and it can be really hard to kick a sugar and carb habit all on your own. You may feel completely overwhelmed about where to begin and how to figure out all the sugar cravings causes. Or, you may have tried before to eat less sugar and fewer carbs and failed. The good news is that you CAN make significant improvements to your sugar habit through a clear-cut, whole foods sugar detox. You just need to know exactly HOW to do it and have the SUPPORT you need to change your habits in a positive way.
Finding the sugar craving causes in your diet and replacing them can help you increase your energy, improve your mood, sleep better, lose body fat and break the sugar and carb stronghold.
What is the root cause of sugar cravings?
The root cause of sugar cravings is a micronutrient deficiency. The human body is intelligent and gets us to crave foods that contain the nutrient we may be missing. For example, you may be strongly craving chocolate because you have a magnesium deficiency — chocolate is a rich source of magnesium! Moving forward, make sure you’re checking your vitamin levels and aiming to eat foods rich in the nutrients you need, without the high levels or sugar.
How does gut imbalance cause sugar cravings?
An imbalance in your gut health can also cause sugar cravings. A healthy gut is very important to your overall wellness. If you’re someone who eats a lot of sugary and processed foods, the bacteria in your digestive system end up feeding on the sugar in your diet, making your sugar cravings even worse!
Can poor sleep or stress cause sugar cravings, too?
Yes, they definitely can. When you don’t get enough sleep, you have more trouble decision-making because your brain is looking for energy from food containing glucose. When it comes to stress (which can also be caused by poor sleep!), we’re more likely going to choose foods that soothe our mood. Considering sugar increases dopamine, the feel food hormone, you’ll just want to have more and more.
What foods lead to sugar cravings?
You may be surprised by this, but there are quite a lot of foods that secretly contribute to your sugar craving. Eating too many artificial sweeteners, for example, conditions our taste buds to crave sweet foods. Eating too many “natural” foods with added sugars works sneakily too. There are so many names for sugar, so natural sources like raw honey or maple syrup may sound harmless, but in the end they’re all converted into glucose. Finally, low-fat and fat-free foods should be treated with caution. They tend to be processed and loaded with sugar to make up for taste, so always be sure to read labels before jumping in!
How can I work to stop my sugar cravings?
A sugar detox is a great way to push yourself. Giving your body a digestive system break from sugars and too many carbs can actually reduce your sugar cravings a lot in just seven days! Try to eat more probiotic-rich food and gut-healing food like Further Food Collagen Peptides. Additionally, you should prioritize your sleep and incorporate lifestyle strategies into your daily routine to manage stress, like yoga. For more help with stress management, consider adding anti-stress foods into your diet, like ashwagandha.
Disclaimer: The following material is intended for general informational purposes only, and is not to be taken as medical diagnosis, advice or treatment.
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