Why Am I Not Able to Control my Sugar Cravings?

a woman holding a cup cake on her mouth

Sugar Cravings

Sugar cravings are really the worst.

It’s like a little army of meanies hold you and torture you until you feed them jellybeans, right?

Diving into this craving too often and you might be inviting yourself up for plenty of negative health outcomes. All that extra sugar can lead to higher caloric intake and can cause chronic inflammation.

In a randomized trial of 29 healthy young men, sugar-sweetened beverage consumption increased inflammatory blood markers in just 3 weeks. On the other side, data from a national U.S. cohort study found that minimising sugar-sweetened beverage consumption correlated with a reduction of inflammatory and chronic disease biomarkers. With this research, it’s not surprising that excess sugar intake is associated with an elevated risk of conditions like heart disease, cancer, Type 2 diabetes and obesity. 

Yet, sugar cravings can still be very difficult to resist.

The key to handling the sugar cravings is to understand why you’re getting them in the first place.

Our bodies use glucose as the main fuel source, so our brains have developed to like sweet foods. Consuming sugar activates the mesolimbic dopamine system, which is the brain’s award system. Dopamine, the feel-good chemical messenger, is then released and reinforces our cravings for sugar. When we frequently eat sugary foods, our brains adapt to the need for more sugar to get the same rewarding feeling. In other words, the more sugar you eat, the more you want it. 

We’re made to enjoy sweets, but why do we sometimes really crave sugar too much? This craving can be due to several reasons including diet, lifestyle and environmental changes. 

For more on why you’re craving more sugar, read up on the four most common causes and what to do then that sweet tooth strikes.

4 Reasons You Have Sugar Cravings

  1. You didn’t eat enough or might eat the wrong things

When you don’t consume enough calories, your body starts looking for fast fuel as a way to catch up. So you crave sugar! Sugar gives you quick instant energy, even though it’s not necessarily quality energy.

How to Stop the Craving?

Calories are the only thing that provides you with real energy, so eat them regularly in the form of whole foods as they provide adequate protein, healthy fat and fibre. Take a deep look at your diet and analyze it. Are you cutting back or eating any of these nutrients inconsistently?

  1. You picked up a bad habit

Some people hit their gum without even realizing it. Some people have habits of picking their fingernails their entire lives. And, some people eat a chocolate bar daily. 

When something becomes a habit, especially food, it can be very difficult to get rid of it.

But if you start to eat more consistently throughout the day and get enough and the right amount of calories, then your defences are up and it’s easier to change that habit.

How to Stop the Craving?

One thing to help break this afternoon or after-dinner sweet habit is to replace the sweet indulgence with a sweet herbal tea. This works particularly well for many afternoon chocoholics. The tea allows for the ritual to be continued, but the habit of sweet treats is broken. Naturally sweet teas, such as apple spice or vanilla almonds, that have no calories and no artificial add ons are good options.

  1. You ate too much starch but not enough fat/protein

When you have a heavy, starchy meal you’re very much setting yourself up for a guaranteed sweet craving. 

How to Stop the Craving?

First of all, practice proper portion control. Add a little olive oil for some healthy fat, and also a portion of lean protein. You need a little protein for satiety and to help control blood sugar spikes and drops that leave you craving sugar not long when you’re done eating.

  1. You chowed down on salty foods

When you eat highly processed, packaged foods, your food has too much sodium in it than you probably even realise. This usually is true even when you’re eating something healthy, like grilled salmon and sautéed or steamed spinach. Oftentimes, the saltier your food, the more is your sweet craving.

How to Stop the Craving?

Just being aware may lessen the craving. Then, the more you actually skip the junk chips or fries, the less you’ll crave something sweet after. When you eat more naturally salty foods, like cheese or olives, versus highly processed foods, your sugar cravings will reduce. Choosing healthier, whole foods leads to opting for more healthy whole foods, no matter what the craving.

Take Away

If you have a habit of having junk foods regularly and that is not binging and ruining your progress, then do it. 

This means you are among those lucky people who can enjoy these things in moderation.

But if you just cannot control yourself around such foods, try to avoid them and stay away from them as much as possible. More sugar intake can hamper your weight loss goals and might elevate your blood pressure as well.

If you manage to resist this, the cravings will get weaker over time and eventually disappear and you will always be healthy.