What Sugar Cravings Mean

A man staring longingly at a muffin

Do you crave sugar and constantly feel the urge to eat something sweet? Then you are not alone, there are millions of people experiencing the very same urges to eat sugar and crave sweets and chocolate every single day. But what makes us crave sugar and what does craving sugar really mean?

There are several reasons why you might be getting cravings, but they basically mean that your body is trying to send you a signal. Sometimes they can occur because you didn't eat enough, or maybe you ate the wrong things. Then your body starts looking for fuel in case you have not eaten enough calories and as a result, you start to crave sugar and feel like it gives you a quick energy boost. In other cases, you might get sugar cravings simply because you picked up bad habits - those times when you are not even hungry at all, but you end up reaching for something sweet.

Below I’ll outline the various reasons you might be getting these signals as well as adding some tips on how to avoid cravings.

You skipped breakfast

There is a misconception that skipping breakfast is a good way to start the day, especially if you are trying to lose weight. The problem with not eating a healthy breakfast is that it will start you on a blood sugar rollercoaster that will result in you craving junk foods later in the day.

By not eating, your blood sugar will start to drop, and eventually your brain will trigger a response to bring back your blood sugar levels to normal. As sugary foods can do this quickly, you may experience this as a craving for sweet foods.

Infographic showing blood sugar levels related to eating

You are eating the wrong foods

Eating the wrong foods can be just as bad as not eating at all. If you start your day eating sweet foods or products made with simple carbs such as processed white flour then your blood sugar will spike and then drop again, resulting in the same cravings as if you hadn’t eaten breakfast at all. So instead of orange juice and a croissant or white toast and jam for breakfast, you should look to high protein foods such as eggs or avocado, and stick to wholemeal breads.

By eating complex or slow release carbs found in wholegrains, as well as high protein meals and snacks will help keep yourself fuller for longer, preventing cravings.

You have bad habits

You might have picked up some bad habits along the way which are leading to sugar cravings. For example you might always eat biscuits with your cup of tea, or you might always have a cake or muffin when you meet friends for coffee. These high sugar treats will result in cravings later in the day.

Just try to be more mindful of what you eat and instead of reaching for a sweet treat because it just what you normally do, think about your decision and go for something more healthy instead.

You have a sugar addiction

Sugar addiction is the number one addiction in America, so if you feel you might be hooked on sugar, you’re not alone. Sugar cravings are often a sign of addiction, which can happen when we consistently eat or drink foods with a high sugar content on a regular basis.

When we eat sugar it releases dopamine which is the happy hormone that make us feel ‘good’. And with added sugar in around 80% of processed and packaged foods, it’s easy to eat far more sugar than you might expect. Eating excessive amounts of sugar can be harmful to your health and wellbeing in more ways that you can imagine and I have written a blog here outlining all of the benefits of cutting sugar from your diet.

Try cutting down on your sugar intake or try a sugar detox to break your sugar addiction cycle.

You are trapped in a sugar addiction cycle

This is what happens when you eat too much sugar. You end up on a constant blood sugar rollercoaster, with your blood sugar levels becoming spiked, and then dropping and then spiking again.

Infographic showing the sugar addiction cycle

You're eating too much salt

Another reason for you to get sugar cravings is because you consume more sodium than you realize. Cravings are also likely to occur when you eat too much starch and not enough fat or protein. It can happen if you eat a lot of packaged and processed foods.

To avoid this, you should skip the fries and the chips, and you won't feel the need to eat sweets afterwards. Your sweet cravings might lessen if you try to eat natural salty foods such as olives or cheese.

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