There’s nothing more legit than a serious sugar craving. It comes and goes without warning, can be so intense that it consumes your every waking thought, can hijack you when you’re emotionally upset, and derails even the hardest efforts to get healthy.
It can also morph into a pretty serious compulsive eating addiction, and I aint’ playin. I’m talking “sugar is all you think about, you need it to feel happy, want it when you’re sad, need something sweet, dream in chocolate, and need a cookie just to stomach the thought of a vegetable.”
Okay, maybe it’s not THAT bad but we can see the effects of eating too much sugar all around us:
- Sugar causes weight gain – 35.7% of the American population is obese. That’s 2 in 3 adults and 1 in 3 children.
- Sugar (not fat) causes cardiovascular disease.
- Sugar causes type 2 diabetes and metabolic syndrome.
- Sugar increases your risk of cancer, feeds it, and spreads it.
- Sugar leaches calcium from your bones and minerals from your body.
- Sugar causes depression.
- Sugar causes chronic inflammation.
- Sugar is addictive.
What causes a sugar craving and why is it so hard to kick?
A craving is simply your body’s way of telling you that it needs something or your brain’s pleasure centers telling you that it wants something. A sugar craving can be caused by a nutrient deficiency, low serotonin, emotional upset, stress, a gut flora imbalance, or your own neurotransmitters.
If you’re studying hard for a test and suddenly find yourself craving sugar, it could be because your brain is looking for a quick glucose source. If your energy is low, your body might crave sugar for a boost. If your mood is low, you might crave sugar for a high. If you have a candida overgrowth or have used antibiotics in the past, you could be craving the sugar bad bacteria and yeast thrive on.
Sugar is easy to become addicted to because it literally hijacks your brain chemistry – triggering the release of serotonin and beta endorphins, and elevating dopamine levels which control your brain’s reward and pleasures centers. Dopamine surges cause behavioral changes, bingeing, sugar dependence, overeating, withdrawal symptoms, and ultimately low dopamine (which comes with its own set of health issues).
Keep eating sugar, and you’ll build up a tolerance – having to consume more to accomplish the same high (or feeling of “calm, happy, etc.”).
Are You Going to Die if You Eat Sugar?
Yep … because everybody dies. But if there’s a lot of sugar in your diet you might die faster or feel like crap until you do. Does this mean that the occasional cookie will put you on the fast-track to wrinkles and a coffin? No. But you still need to get a handle on it because all of your woes could be caused by the 1/2 pound of sugar you’re eating each day.
How to Kick the Sugar Cravings
Sugar cravings stink. If you’re at the level of addiction, it’s going to be hard to break but you can do it. Here are a few places to start:
1. Put the donuts and soda DOWN. Making healthier choices is not option.
2. Use less sugar in your recipes.
In most recipes, you can cut the sugar by 1/3 – 1/2 without altering the taste (too much).
4. Drink fiber 15 minutes before eating anything sweet.
5. Make sure you’re eating enough protein. Choose lean protein or nuts, seeds, and raw plant-based protein shakes.
6. Don’t start your morning with something sweet. Instead, focus on lean protein and vegetables or a smoothie with fruit, grain, and a good fat. Combining fruit with a good fat slows the release of sugar into the blood stream and can help reduce sugar swings.
8. Exercise 20 minute per day to release natural beta endorphins.
9. Drink enough water. Yes … even dehydration can be at the root of a sugar craving (and pretty much all other cravings).
Everybody loves them a little something sweet – and every once in a while, that’s okay. But it’s the year 2017 now and with all of the healthier substitutes for straight up white sugar, there’s no reason we need it and no reason to eat it.