Are you craving sugar?
Watch this video and I’ll tell you why you may be craving sweets and what you can do about it.
Hi, it’s Ivana. Please subscribe and hit that bell.
If you want to cut down on your sugar cravings, you need to know what causes them.
I’m an Online Nutrition Coach and yes I have a sweet tooth!
But I’ve learned to manage it and I’m going to give you some tips so that you can learn to manage your sugar cravings.
I want you to stick around to the end of this video because I’m also going to take a look at sugar addiction and what the science actually says about it.
Blood Sugar Fluctuations
The first thing I’m going to talk about is blood sugar fluctuations.
When we eat, the hormone insulin is released in response to that food.
Now foods that are simple sugars or refined carbohydrates, so things like bagels, crackers, white bread, they produce a higher insulin response. When your insulin response is greater than you’re going to find post-meal, you’re going to drop in blood sugar. That can produce cravings later on.
A lot of sugar cravings come from eating too much sugar in the first place. Or things that you might not see as sugar, but your body treats has sugars.
That’s the refined carbs, white rice, white bread, crackers, chips, that sort of thing. If it’s a refined carb, your body pretty much treats it like sugar.
Before we get too far, let me know the foods that you crave.
Are you craving sugar?
Reason number two, you’re dieting.
Anytime you severely restrict your calories, the hormone ghrelin increases. This is considered the hunger hormone.
I remember it because it sounds like gremlin, so it makes you eat like a gremlin. That’s how I always remember.
Ghrelin gets released when your calorie intake is very low because your body doesn’t want to starve. It makes you feel very hungry so that hopefully you’ll consume those calories.
The opposing hormone is called leptin.
So leptin levels, you want those to be increased in order to be full more often.
The solution to this is don’t diet.
But if you wanna lose weight, you do have to produce at calorie deficit.
You do need to reduce your calories, but you don’t want to do it too drastically. If you’re eating 3000 calories, you don’t want to drop it down to 1500. If you’re eating 2000 and you don’t want to drop it down to something ridiculous, like 800 calories, like some diet plans recommend that you do.
Do it gradually. About 250 to 500 calories is reasonable. And then you’re going to have a steady decrease in your weight, but you’re not going to get that massive increase in ghrelin.
You’re Not Sleeping Enough
Reason number three, you’re not sleeping enough.
Ghrelin doesn’t just increase when you’re dieting.
It also increases when you’re not sleeping enough.
If you’re sleep deprived, you’re going to have an increase in ghrelin. This makes you feel more hungry.
We also know that if you’re really tired, then you can’t be bothered to make a proper meal. You’re just going to grab a take away. You’ll want to rely on fast food.
You can’t be bothered to work out probably. And all those things come together.
Sleep really is important. I’ve created an entire video about sleep. So if you’re interested in that, I’m going to link it up below and at the end of this video. Sleep is really important for avoiding sugar cravings. ‘
Not Getting Enough Protein Or Fibre
Number four, not getting enough protein and fibre. So both of those things help stabilize your blood sugar levels.
Ghrelin also decreases when you have protein as part of your meal.
So that’s a really important way of decreasing your ghrelin levels. You decrease your appetite after a meal.
In terms of the actual insulin response to a meal, protein has kind of a moderate effect. Carbs have the highest effect and fat has a negligible effect on your blood sugar levels. So if you reduce your carb intake and increase slightly your protein and your fat levels, you’re going to see a reduction in cravings.
This is why low carb diets tend to reduce cravings for sugar.
Craving Sugar Out Of Habit
And the last one is habit. Unfortunately, as humans, we are creatures of habit and we tend to do things over and over and over and over again. You’ll have an emotional response, if you’re stressed. When you’re feeling anxious. People will be reaching for food in those instances. And I mean, I did it myself like for a long time, I thought that that tub of ice cream was the solution to my problem.
And even if you, you know that it’s not actually gonna help you with anything, it’s not going to do anything at the time.
It feels really, really good. It’s delicious, it’s sweet, it’s comforting.
You’re going to get a little bit of an endorphin hit from all those carbs, kind of spiking your blood sugar up, right? So if we’re in the habit of enjoying that process, then it’s really difficult to avoid sugar cravings. Now what you have to do, and this is really tricky and takes time. I work with a lot of my clients just to overcome these habits that they’ve built up over years and years and sometimes decades.
What To Do When You’re Craving Sugar
You need to come up with positive alternatives to food when you’re experiencing emotional issues. If your habit, is to sit down in front of the TV and eat a bag of chips, when you’re stressed from work…you need to come up with another habit that’s going to be a little bit more useful.
Maybe you can go straight to the gym and try to work off some of that frustration.
What Is Sugar Addiction?
What about sugar addiction?
This is the idea that sugar is just as powerful to your brain as heroin or cocaine or any other illicit drug that has a very powerful physiological response.
Now, the science is not really clear when it comes to that. I do have a link below if you want to have a look in terms of how they judge addiction and whether or not sugar meets the criteria.
We know that the addiction to these types of foods, whether you actually call it addiction, is very powerful, but a lot of that is coming from psychological stuff. And let’s not discount psychology when it comes to our eating habits because it can be the most powerful thing.
I talked a lot about the kind of physiological reasons why their sugar cravings, but then the last one of course was habit.
That is a psychological reason and sugar addiction may not really be a thing. It’s not equivalent to being addicted to cocaine.
What’s probably happening is that we have a strong feeling about hyper palatable foods. So these are the kinds of foods, the highly processed foods that contain both sugar and fat together.
The donut is a perfect example.
There’s other things that you might not consider sugar. French fries and chips that might be your favourite for instance.
Ice cream, those kinds of things that are both sweet and creamy and there’s a great feeling when you’re eating them.
‘They just taste good. They’re designed to taste good.
We probably have very, very strong feelings about those things and we want to eat them as much as possible. Breaking that habit is a psychological thing.
Why It’s Unlikely That Sugar Is A True Addiction
Here’s the major argument against the theory of sugar as an addiction in the same way as other drugs:
When you’re craving sugar, do you run to the cupboard and just grab some pure white sugar and then dump it down your throat?
You’re not really drawn to just that sugar. You probably want something that has some psychological associations for you or something that just tastes really good.
Pure sugar itself for most people doesn’t really taste that good. It needs to be combined with something, so chances are sugar addiction in that way isn’t real. However, that doesn’t mean that it’s not a powerful force.
It doesn’t mean that your feelings for wanting a food so badly are not real.
All of these things are very powerful.
The reason that I don’t particularly like the idea of sugar as an addiction is because it makes people feel powerless against it. And as you seen throughout this video, those five things that I mentioned, if you adjust those things, then you’ll be able to control your sugar cravings.
You do have control when you’re craving sugar.