Why do I crave sugar? As children, we may think sugar is in select things: ice cream, soda, candy, those delicious homemade donuts the neighbor across the street makes regularly, and so on. However, as we mature and begin to pay more attention to our diets and our bodies, most people begin to realize that sugar can have several forms and can be found in many more foods.
Knowing the ins and outs of which foods contain sugar is helpful, but why do we crave sugar in the first place? Are our bodies trying to sabotage our health, or is there an actual reason for why sweet things taste so good to us?
Sugar Cravings and Human Nature
The intake of sugar sends messages to the brain which makes it release dopamine, the feel-good chemical we all hear about. We as humans are built to seek out food, especially foods that send up dopamine flares because that is how our ancestors survived.
Since we’re built like the hunter-gatherers that came before us, our love of food and particularly sugar is mainly due to the fact that it keeps us alive. We get all the right signals when we eat sugary and fatty foods.
Craving sugar is a widespread condition fueled mostly by the pleasure and reward areas of our brains, the amygdala and nucleus accumbens. Reasons for craving sugar may include the following: stress, sleeplessness, habit, and diet.
Stress and Sugar Cravings
We all know what it’s like to feel stressed out and suddenly begin craving that homemade chocolate pie our mom made us in elementary school. One of the most common causes of sugar cravings is feeling stress at a higher-than-usual level.
The need to lower stress often leads us to “comfort foods”, which are generally particularly high in sugar content. When we’re feeling anxious and take a box of cookies to work for breakfast, it’s convenient (which lowers stress).
It satisfies our brains’ signal for dopamine, which helps it deal with high stimulus caused by stress. Finally, the good feelings associated with memories eating cookies comfort us, relieving more stress.
Sleeplessness and Sugar Cravings
Lack of sleep can cause a lot of problems. When we lose out on sleep, we generally have crabbier moods, sloppier days, and we also tend to eat more sugar. If you had one of those nights turning over and over in your bed, wondering when sleep would finally come, that might be the reason you simply grabbed a chocolate muffin this morning instead of the Nutrigrain bar waiting patiently on the counter.
A recent study that was done at UC Berkeley shows that the decision-making part of our brains is slowed and groggy when we’re running low on sleep, while the more primitive and rewards-based section of our brains becomes more active. Therefore, when we’re low on sleep, we’re also low on motivation to eat healthier. We eat more sugar when we’re tired.
Often, we may eat sugar-filled foods because it is simply what we’re accustomed to. Have you ever reached into a tub of Red Vines and in the process realized you’re not actually craving the sugar, but you eat it anyway? The action seems to be more out of habit or boredom than actual purpose.
In moments like these, we are actually building up our own sugar cravings. Eating sugar out of habit is a huge factor in America’s general sugar addiction.
Since it is available almost everywhere, tastes good, has decent prices and doesn’t require preparation, sugar is the perfect convenience culprit, allowing us to eat it more and more frequently until we can’t seem to stop.
An interesting component of the sugar-craving crisis we see today is the fact that often, it’s caused by gaps in our nutrition. When our diet is lacking in phosphorous, carbon, sulfur, and many more vitamins, minerals, and proteins, it’s easy to mistake the signals in our brain for the desire to consume a sweet treat.
You might eat a Swiss Roll and then realize you want another one, or two. Sometimes it never seems enough. That’s because sugar can’t fill the gaps of an incomplete diet. Eating a balanced diet with plenty of fresh fruits, vegetables, proteins, and minerals will help keep the diet-based sugar cravings at bay.
Sugar Cravings: The Remedies
Why do I crave sugar? What can we do about stress and sleeplessness and all of the other things inherent to this life, though? Sometimes it’s simply unreasonable to expect someone with a busy lifestyle to change so much in order to eat a few more carrots. However, the changes that we make to avoid sugar cravings could be very small.
For example, taking a daily vitamin can fill in many dietary gaps, helping to curb the sugar cravings before they begin. For example, Dose of Health is a wonderful, naturally-derived and effective daily multivitamin which can bridge any gaps in a diet and lower sugar cravings.
Another great option for lowering and avoiding sugar cravings is to participate in a detox plan to help reset the system and prepare the body for more filling foods and snacks. Some supplements, such as Hit the Reset, are superbly helpful for this
Finally, simple things can help ebb the desire to consume sugary foods. Getting in a small catnap before eating makes us less hungry. Eating sufficient protein amounts and drinking plenty of water will fill us up and lower hunger levels, allowing us to fill up on healthier foods instead of craving fructose, glucose, or sucrose sugars. Or, a supplement like
Curb Your Craving can help keep your appetite suppressed throughout the day.
Sugar Cravings: The Summary
Why do I crave sugar? Craving sugar is a very common condition caused by sleeplessness, diet gaps, and high-stress levels. Taking time to rest, drinking enough water and exercising can help to treat these problems without resorting to eating sugar with most meals. Lowering sugar intake is important for overall health. However, all things should be balanced.
A controlled amount of sugar intake is actually beneficial, especially if the sugars are naturally-derived from fruits or vegetables. If nothing seems to be curbing your sugar cravings, you may want to speak with a health professional to see if there is a deeper diet deficiency which needs to be treated.