We are almost all consuming too much sugar and cutting down for the sake of our health – and teeth – is on many people’s wish list. But it can often feel like only something sweet will do. And once you are all sugared up it can be even harder to resist sugar in the future. But you can rid yourself of your sweet tooth and reduce the sugar cravings.
It’s important to recognise whether a craving is actually habit – do you always reach for a snack at 3pm? Is it part of your routine to have a pudding after your evening meal? If it’s a habit you have then changing your routine could mean you don’t feel you have to fill a sweetie gap.
If you are actually craving sugar it could well be that you simply need to prioritise wellness, with a balanced diet and exercise routine, plus a focus on plenty of quality sleep and relaxation. When we are run down and low on certain vitamins and minerals, we often feel we have to reach for the sweet stuff. And this is where you can take direct action to beat your sugar cravings.
Eat good fat to stop sugar cravings
Good fats, like olive oil, nuts, avocado and oily fish help us feel full and also keep blood sugar levels stable. If you are cutting out fat and relying on carbohydrates and sugars to give you energy you will be on a blood sugar rollercoaster! When our blood sugar levels plummet we instinctively reach for high, quick release energy products like sugar.
Stress causes sugar cravings
When we are stressed we have high levels of cortisol in our blood stream, and we crave sugar because it lights up the pleasure and reward center of our brain and creates the hormone serotonin, which is calming and relaxing. So, our bodies are actually trying to calm down. If you can reduce your stress levels or incorporate relaxation into your day then you will find you self-medicate with sugar less.
Chocolate cravings could be a sign of magnesium deficiency
If your sugar cravings tend to be chocolate specific it could well be your body is crying out for magnesium – rather than something sweet! One of the key signs of a magnesium deficiency is strong cravings for chocolate as well as other sweet foods. It’s commonly found in soya, almonds, hazelnuts and brown rice.
Tired people crave sugar
When tired, we have the tendency to eat sugary foods. A study in the International Journal of Obesity looked at two groups of people who over the course of five nights slept for four hours versus nine hours. Those in the group who slept less showed increased activity in the pleasure centers of their brain when shown unhealthy foods like doughnuts and chocolate, demonstrating why less sleep can lead to poor food choices the next day.
Try the less is more rule
They do say that a little bit of what you fancy does you good and with sweet treats this can be true. Try having a square of high-quality dark chocolate instead of an entire bag of sweets. You should find that it satisfies that urge because it’s so rich, plus it’s a healthy alternative.
If you’re feeling extremely run down, or have an unnaturally high craving for sugar, then visit your doctor, who can run various tests and confirm whether you need to take any further action.