Why am I craving sweet foods? NL-056
Sugar cravings hitting you too often? Finding these sneaky cravings hard to resist? Giving into sugar cravings and enjoying a cupcake or two every once in a while is relatively harmless but consuming sugary foods in excess can lead to weight gain, trigger inflammation in the body and increase the risk of health conditions such as metabolic syndrome, obesity, type 2 diabetes and heart disease. It can also make your skin age faster. So, what can you do about hard-to-resist sugar cravings? Understanding why you are getting these cravings would help you mind these cravings and fight back with all your will power.
Why do you crave sugar?
It is normal to find sugar-rich foods irresistible. After all, we are hardwired to love sugar. Our body associates sugar with nutrition and considers it as a source of instant energy. There's nothing wrong with indulging in a sugary feast occasionally but if you can't stop dreaming about desserts and become completely out of control when gorging on sugary snacks, it can be a sign of some underlying nutritional deficiency or a health condition. Imbalances in blood sugar levels, hormonal imbalances or a deficiency of iron, magnesium and zinc in the body are some top causes that may be worth looking into if you are struggling with sugar cravings. For example, shortage of iron in the body can result in low energy levels that fuels sugar cravings.
In fact, your sugar cravings could be a result of a variety of other reasons. Your lifestyle, the environment you live in, skipping your meals and psychological reasons such as stress and anxiety can also make you reach out for sugary treats. Sugar can be highly addictive as it activates your brain's reward system and releases feel-happy chemicals such as dopamine and serotonin. It is commonly seen that people who are highly stressed out or depressed often crave for sugar as their way to cope with stress and get emotional release. But this creates a vicious circle of eating more and more sugar to create the same feelings of happiness and emotional relief.
If you are not getting enough sleep, it may affect hormones that regulate appetite and satiation. This can also motivate your taste buds to indulge in a chocolatey treat in the middle of the night, probably developing into a bad habit over a period of time. Skipping your meals and staying hungry for long periods can also intensify sugar cravings.
How can you beat your sugar cravings?
- Eat a healthy, well-balanced diet
- Eat some fruit or choose foods that are naturally sweet
- Stay hydrated, go for a glass of water when sugar pangs hit you
- Manage stress levels, learn to relax
- Address nutritional deficiencies, take supplements
- Don’t go without eating for too long
- Avoid artificial sweeteners
- Sleep well and develop regular sleep times
- Incorporate more protein into your diet
- Exercise and take a walk when you crave sugar
1. Ma et al. Excessive intake of sugar: An accomplice of inflammation. Front Immunol. 2022
2. Veit et al. The role of dietary sugars, overweight, and obesity in type 2 diabetes mellitus: a narrative review. European Journal of Clinical Nutrition. 2022.