Sugar cravings. How we love to hate them. You go to the store with perfectly good intentions to buy healthy food only to find yourself speeding toward the candy. I repeatedly hear from people “but I just can’t control my sweet tooth.” A sugar craving is your body’s way of telling you something. Read on to find what that something what your sugar craving is telling you about your health and what you can do about it.
Does your body need sugar?
The answer is yes. Everyone needs sugar to maintain proper blood sugar levels in the body. Sugar is energy for your brain, muscles and organs. They all need glucose to function. The best form of this energy is from fruits, vegetables and complex carbohydrates that have fiber, vitamins and other minerals our bodies need.
How much sugar do you need?
The American Heart Association recommends 6 teaspoons a day for women and 9 for men (24 grams and 36 grams) yet the average adult is consumes 24 teaspoons a day and the average child 32.
What happens when you eat sugar?
The pancreas releases insulin to round up sugar and triage it. The first place your body tries to store sugar is in muscle, but when muscles are full it stores excess sugar in fat cells. The more sugar you eat, the more work your pancreas and liver have to do to clean things up and maintain equilibrium.
What happens when you eat too much sugar?
With frequent insulin spikes, comes insulin and leptin resistance. This means more insulin production, more fat storage and more insulin resistance. Leptin is the other factor. This hormone controls hunger, satiety, manages fat metabolism, and monitors how much energy is circulating in the body. Leptin is produced by fat cells, and what’s ironic is those who have difficulty losing weight generally have leptin resistance. Leptin resistance is perceived by the body as starvation, which causes the body to store more fat. Leptin resistance also stimulates formation of reverse T3 (thyroid hormone) which blocks thyroid effect on metabolism.
To summarize, a person’s body can believe it’s starving and keep telling them to eat more even though they’re eating excess calories. It’s a horrible, vicious cycle! Causes of high leptin include stress, high insulin levels, overeating, over exercising, and lack of sleep.
Insulin and leptin resistance means you’re at greater risk for type II diabetes if you’re overweight, sedentary or have an unhealthy lifestyle and it can happen to anyone. Skinny or fat. Diabetes does not discriminate.
Why do you crave sugar if it’s bad for you?
Sugar is addictive. Studies have shown that sugar has the same effect on the body that drugs do. When animals were given the choice between sugar and drugs they chose sugar and animals already addicted to drugs switched to sugar. At the root of the problem is food processing. Sugar cane in its raw form has fiber and nutrients, but modern day food processing strips sugar cane of its essential nutrients so by the time it hits the shelf for you to buy, it’s a frankenstein food.
Certain types of sugar like high fructose corn syrup suppress hormones leptin and ghrelin. These hormones send signals to your brain telling you when your fat cells are full and to stop eating. HFCS has been linked to obesity and has been shown scientifically to metabolize the same way as alcohol. This is why you can drink soda and eat candy all day and never feel full, but get fat.
Other reasons such as lack of sleep, stress and hormone imbalances cause intense sugar cravings as a result of leptin and insulin being out of balance. Read this post for more info on this.
What is your sugar craving telling you about your health?
Your sugar craving may be telling you you’re lacking key nutrients in your diet. Ever notice how you can eat an apple or carrot that you don’t repeatedly crave it over and over again the same way you do sugar? How’s that possible? Don’t apples and carrots have naturally occuring sugar?
They do, but the big difference is that these foods have minerals and vitamins your body need. They also have fiber to balance the sugar. That fiber slows the absorption of sugar causing less of a spike. In fact, if you’re going to eat sugar eating it with something like a salad is best. Sounds yummy, huh?
Your body is smart. It knows what it needs. A sugar craving is your body’s way of telling you “I’m not getting what I need, stop feeding me junk and FEED ME real food!”
Your sugar craving may also be telling you, you have an imbalance in your life like too much stress, fatigue, and hormone imbalances. 98% of the time when I correct these basic things with my clients, their sugar cravings resolve and they’re able to start losing weight.
Watch the video for 3 more reasons why you’re craving sugar!
How do I stop craving sugar?
Sugar cravings are a vicious cycle. Protein will always stop a sugar craving, but the best way to crush your cravings is by ADDING to your diet. Adding more plant based, fibrous foods like leafy greens, starchy vegetables and fruits as well as complex carbohydrates and healthy fats like seeds and nuts. If you’re eating enough plant foods and protein in the proper balance, you will feel satisfied and will naturally stop craving sugar.
On a side note, if you’re eating a low fat diet and working out but can’t seem to lose body fat, take a look at the sugar content in the foods you’re eating. All low fat and fat free processed foods have the fat replaced with added sugars like high fructose corn syrup so you’re likely eating a lot more sugar than you think. Full fat foods are a better option.
You’re probably thinking yeah right, my sugar craving can’t be this simple. But really, it is. As a recovering sugar addict, I can say it works. After breaking up with sugar for a few weeks, you will stop craving it and be surprised by how much better you feel. Less achy joints, better sleep, less hypertension, less foggy brain and better digestion. All good stuff. Try it! If sugar is your enemy, you will only gain from trying.