Why Do I Crave Sweets And Sugar In The Afternoon?

Updated: Nov 20, 2019

Do you often feel compelled to eat or drink sugary foods, especially mid afternoon? Ever wondered why you crave a chocolate bar or sweets mid afternoon? That 3pm slump happens to millions of people around the world so you're not alone, but have you ever wondered why it happens?

For some people, making sober and healthy food or drink choices is easy, at least up until mid to late afternoon. For some reason, sugar cravings have a way of exacerbating just at the most tempting time of the day - and just when clean eating isn't at the top of our minds. How, then, can you suppress them for good?

Woman working at a computer and eating jelly sweets

Why Do I Crave Sweet Treats Mid Afternoon?

There are many lifestyle and physiological reasons for this behavior. Here are the mains reason that this happens.

1. Dropping sugar levels

Two things happen as the clock drags to 3 p.m: First, you get physically worn out as a result of your working day, even if it's sitting in your desk for hours and, secondly, your sugar levels naturally tend to slump as the day pans out. When physical tiredness and low blood sugar levels combine, the result is a significant and sudden dip in your energy levels.

But you still have tons of work to do, so you can't call it a day just yet no matter how low the energy level gets. So what do you do? Your brain tells you to implement a quick fix and keep working, and there is no quicker fix than a sugar-filled food or drink!

Your sugar and energy levels risel immediately after eating a chocolate bar, but the this energy is only temporary, thew artificial spike in blood sugar will result in a crash a few hours down the line, meaning you are craving for sugar all over again. So this trend continues until a bad habit is formed....

2. You picked up a bad habit.

Do you know what the worst thing is about a bad habit? Well, it is the fact that you will hardly notice it, so breaking away from it can be extremely tough. If you develop a routine of running to the vending machine for a chocolate bar or to the biscuit jar every day at 3 p.m, you will not even have to be tired or have a sugar slump to eat sugar. You might not notice the craving for it, because you will be doing it instinctively.

So take time to look at your daily eating habits and make sure you aren't eating too much sugar without even thinking about it.

3. You ate too little or too many calories.

If you fail to give your body enough calories at lunchtime, it will soon start craving for a quick energy boost.

When you eat excess starch, a bowl of spaghetti, for example, without eating enough fiber, fats, and/or proteins, your body gets excess calories but still doesn't feel nutritionally satisfied. The carbs are converted to glucose and are absorbed fast and boom! Your blood sugar rises, resulting in a blood sugar crash mid afternoon, as a sugar craving shows its ugly face again.

So make sure you add veggies, lean protein, and some olive oil to your lunch pasta will easily break the sugar cravings cycle.

4. Bad sleep and bad eating patterns.

Not getting enough sleep can have all sorts of negative effects on your eating patterns the next day. Maybe you work multiple shifts or you are enrolled for an evening class, so you go to sleep too late? Maybe you are watching too much Tv late at night or spending too much screen time on your phone before you get to bed? There are so many things that can prevent us getting a solid 8 hours sleep these days, with a knockoff effect of getting up later, rushing out in the morning and not getting a proper, substantial breakfast in the morning.

Skipping breakfast means missed calories and to some extent, inadequate energy to push you through the day (at least not beyond 3 pm). To make up for the inadequacy, you find yourself running to the vending machine for a portion of unhealthy sugary food or drink. And it is not just skipping breakfast; not eating enough lunch will also lead to sugar craving in the afternoon.

Sleep deprivation can also decrease your leptin (satiety hormone), so you feel constant hunger even after eating a heavy lunch. That's why you crave for an energy boost (sugar) after lunch. Inadequate sleep is also known to cause high-level and chronic stress, which consequently increases your afternoon craving for sugary treats.

Did you know that staying awake at night increases your chances of eating a midnight snack? The more your body gets used to that midnight cookie, the more likely it is to crave a mid afternoon cookie.

5. Too much salt in your food.

Most processed and packaged foods have more sodium than your body needs. Salt is a contracting food which means that after eating too much of it, your body craves for expanding foods such as sugar in order to reclaim its balance. The more the salt you consume in a day, the more sugar your body will crave for too.

6. A rewarding system.

From when we are young, we develop the habit of celebrating key achievements by eating junk, sugary foods. That habit gets ingrained in us so prominently that even when we are old, we still find ourselves craving sweets as a reward for hard work. And, coincidentally, your day's efforts start to take shape in the afternoon. So if you've had a really productive day, and yo know it's close to finishing time, maybe you are giving yourself a treat and rewarding yourself without even realising it?

Again, maybe it's time to take a look at your eating patters in the afternoon, and see if you are using sugar as a reward?

Once you understand why you get sugar cravings in the afternoon, you'll have a far better chance at getting your sugar consumption back on track.

Eating excessive amounts of sugar can have some really negative effects on your overall health, as I'v outlined in my blog here, so it really is worth making the effort and getting your sweet craving back in control.

Five Actionable Remedies for Your Afternoon Sugar Cravings

To help you kick afternoon cravings, we recommend the following handy tips:

1. Eat regular meals and snacks

Eating a healthy and balanced breakfast and lunch, as well as multiple health snacks in between. Making sure that you are full will significantly lower your sugar craving.