You’ve had a busy day and you’re reaching for the sugary stuff – we get it – been there, done that! In fact, up to 97% of women and 68% of men report experiencing some sort of food craving, including sugar cravings1https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/foods-that-fight-sugar-cravings, so, you’re not alone!
While sugar may briefly satisfy your taste buds, the constant spikes and crashes in blood sugar levels can set off a host of effects, including anxiety, irritability and fatigue.2https://news.sanfordhealth.org/healthy-living/sugar-crash-effects/ Eating too much sugar can also significantly raise your risk of obesity, diabetes,3https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3584048/ and cardiovascular disease4https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3712514/ as well as damage your gut health. Think of your gut microbiome as a rainforest, full of plants, trees, vines, big cats, birds and lizards – consuming too much sugar is like pouring bleach into the system’s river. The good news is that you can rewire your sugar cravings, avoiding side effects and harming your good gut bugs.
Let’s take a closer look at why you may be craving sweet stuff and what you can do about it –
Your body responds to stress by releasing cortisol – a hormone linked to the desire for sweet foods.5https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6620125/ So, when you feel like your sugar cravings have ramped up during periods of stress, you’re not wrong!
Lack Of Sleep
Studies show that sleep deprivation can lead to an increased appetite for sweet, salty and starchy foods,6https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3763921/ likely in an attempt to boost energy levels.
You didn’t eat enough, or too much of the ‘wrong’ stuff. When you haven’t consumed enough calories, your body will start to look for fast fuel – sugar! Sugar will give you quick, easy-to-access energy but not quality energy that lasts.
Similarly, starchy meals containing no fibre or protein won’t satisfy your hunger for long. So, you’re more likely to reach for something sweet after a big bowl of white pasta, for instance.
What, when and why you eat can become behavioural patterns. Research shows that what you crave may be the results of classical conditioning: behaviours you’ve adopted over time because they feel good and rewarding.7https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6411047/ You may be craving sugar because your mind and body have been trained to crave it.
How To Manage Your Cravings
- Avoid excess stress.8https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/26032789/ Easier said than done, right? But, there are things you can do to help minimise your stress levels, including taking Ashwagandha,9https://draxe.com/ashwagandha-proven-to-heal-thyroid-and-adrenals/ ensuring enough time outdoors and keeping active.10https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7264390/
- Establish a bedtime routine. Think of your time before bed as a way of unwinding and soothing the mind – much like a child’s bedtime! Switch your mobile to ‘Night Shift’, to minimise blue light, and avoid screens altogether two hours before bed. Drink Sing Me To Sleep Tea, run a bath and try to go to bed/wake up at the same time, every day. More tips in our 6 steps to a great night’s sleep post.
- Eat healthy, filling meals. Ensure you have lots of protein and fibre-rich foods on hand!11https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/3-step-plan-to-stop-sugar-cravings#TOC_TITLE_HDR_2 Buddha bowls with lean meats and good grains are a great option to keep you fuller, for longer, avoiding the need for a quick energy boost.
- Swap it out! Satisfy your sweet tooth without the glycemic overload by choosing healthier alternatives such as…
Chocolate Covered Stuffed Dates
A gooey treat with just three ingredients! Stuff medjool dates with almond butter, dip in melted 75% dark chocolate and refrigerate until the chocolate is firm.
Wizz together half an avocado, one ripe banana (for sweetness), two tablespoons of raw cacao powder and one tablespoon of yacon syrup for a light and nutritional treat!
Chocolate Covered Banana ‘Lollies’
Pop chunks of banana onto lolly sticks and dip in 75% dark chocolate. Roll the bananas in chopped nuts and goji berries then pop on greaseproof paper in the freezer. The perfect refined-sugar-free lolly!
Lastly, be kind to yourself. Life is about balance. We’re big believers in the 80/20 rule here at Chuckling Goat – make healthy choices 80% of the time, treat yourself the remaining 20% 😉