Some of us consider candy or a bar of chocolate to be a special treat, while others eat desserts a few times a day. Eating sugar-rich foods can become a habit for many reasons, including a shortage of energy or nutrients in the body. Although the euphoric feeling we get from taking that first bite into a candy bar is not something to be ignored, it’s important to control your sugar intake. That means learning how to ignore sugar cravings when they pop up.
Unfortunately, all those delicacies can be quite hard to cut out of your diet. We take a look at everything that comes with sugar cravings and how you can succeed in ignoring them.
But first, we explore a few of the reasons why you might get sugar cravings. Every craving has an underlying cause, and learning about that is the only surefire way to ignore the urge to consume too much sugar.
Why Do I Get Sugar Cravings?
In order to learn how to ignore sugar cravings, we need to establish what the true reason is for their presence in the first place. A craving is usually a message sent by your body to your brain, requesting an intake of sugar because of some deficiency. The myth is that sugar cravings always come from low blood sugar or low energy levels. However, that is not always the case.
Here are only some of the reasons we get sugar cravings:
1. Bad Eating Habits
Eating too many carbs and not enough protein and healthy fats will result in sugar cravings. Your body requires protein and healthy fats for fuel to create energy.
Not eating often enough (or eating too little) can also cause your body to crave sugar as a quick energy source.
If you enjoy salty foods, or you have a high salt intake due to processed foods, you are also bound to crave sugar since your body naturally tries to balance out these intakes.
2. Bacterial Balance
It has been found that the more we eat of certain food groups, the more our bodies crave the same foods. The reason for this is that by eating foods like sugar, for instance, we feed the bacteria that thrive on sugar. In doing so, the healthy bacteria get overpowered by the sugar-thriving bacteria. The more we feed the sugar-thriving bacteria, the more they grow, and so our bodies require more sugar to sustain them.
3. Mineral Deficiency
Although it is not usually the main cause of sugar cravings, a deficiency in minerals like iron, calcium, magnesium, and zinc may cause imbalances which can lead to sugar cravings. Your body does not actually crave sugar but rather energy or water for hydration. Your brain, however, translates this energy or water deficiency as a sugar deficiency, considering that sugar intake will assist with the replenishment of energy, hydration, and electrolytes.
4. Stress, Depression, and Bad Moods
When we are stressed, our body produces a hormone called cortisol. This hormone raises blood sugar levels and increases appetite. In turn, this causes cravings – and more often than not, it is sugar that we crave.
This also brings about the issue of stress eating, a bad habit that affects many people. Stress eating means that a person overeats during stressful episodes, and the chosen food is usually something unhealthy.
How to Ignore Sugar Cravings
It is becoming clear that, for the most part, sugar cravings come from imbalances in our bodies and daily lives. So is there really something we can do about it? The answer is yes, but we have to address the root cause of the problem.
Here are a few tips on how to ignore sugar cravings for good:
1. Avoid Salty Food
Steer clear of too much salt in your food. This also means avoiding processed and junk foods, which are known for their high levels of sodium. Remember that the more salt you eat, the more sugar you will crave.
2. Increase Your Fat and Protein Intake
Focus on healthy fats like nuts, avocadoes, dark chocolate, fish, etc, and avoid processed foods that are high in carbohydrates and saturated fats. Your body has to work extra hard to create sugar and energy from carbohydrates, and it has a much easier time when you consume natural and healthy fats and proteins.
3. Eat Less but Often
Eat smaller healthy meals but eat more often. This is the best way to ensure that your body has the fuel it needs to function. You should eat approximately 6 to 8 small meals throughout the day.
4. Substitute Your Craving
Find alternative activities to do as soon as you feel the craving coming on. Run around the block, drink a glass of water or munch on a carrot or celery stick. The craving often goes away as soon as you put something in your mouth, so make sure that it’s a healthy snack.
5. Test Those Mineral Levels
Have your mineral levels tested to find out whether you have any deficiencies. If you do, a simple diet change could be all you need to address those issues.
6. Manage Stress
Find the time to manage your stress and moods. Take a good hard look at what you are doing and how you are doing it. Are there any organizational or time management skills you can use to achieve a less stressful environment? Change what you can in order to reduce your stress levels.
7. Keep Sugar out of the House
Satisfying a sugar craving becomes much easier when sugary items are readily available to you. Rid your home from all the unhealthy sweets and treats. Instead, fill your cupboards with healthy alternatives just in case you cannot curb the craving to eat something.
Our bodies tell us when something is wrong, be it through headaches, fatigue, or even cravings. Cravings should never be ignored unless you know exactly what the underlying cause is. If you’re sure there is no health issue lurking underneath, it is perfectly fine to just ignore those pesky sugar cravings. Always opt for healthy alternatives to sugar, and the cravings will go away in time.