Why Do People Crave Sugar?
Sugar cravings are caused by a variety of factors, both physiological and mental, so if you wish to know why here are some probable reasons to explore.
- Habits & Behaviors Sugary processed meals cause the release of the neurochemical dopamine, which is associated with a "feel-good" experience. The increase in happy hormone levels results in increased cravings.
- Conditioning According to a scientific review, what you want to eat results from behavior therapy, which refers to actions you have acquired over time. In a nutshell, you may want sweets because your mind and body have been conditioned to do so.
- Stress When stressed, your body reacts by secreting hormones associated with food desires. According to research published in 2019, the hormone cortisol was shown to be associated with a craving for sugary meals.
- Insulin Resistance Insulin resistance is a precursor to diabetes. When cells are bombarded with sugar for too long, they gradually burn out and stop responding to insulin. Sugar starvation occurs when insulin resistance prevents sugar from entering cells.
Begin The Journey to A Sugar-Free Life
Do Not Rush and Limit Sugar Consumption
The most important step is to develop an eating pattern that you can follow. For many individuals, this entails taking things gradually at first. Consider the first few weeks as a time of decreased sugar intake rather than a period of no sugar intake.
When you adopt a less sugary lifestyle, you may "teach" your taste buds and palate to desire fewer of the high-sugar items that you were previously addicted to.
During this period, you can consider consuming fruits and vegetables as they contain natural sugars along with fibers and nutrients. To reduce the amount of sugar, you should start by making tiny dietary adjustments.
Instead of your typical full-flavor yogurt, go for plain yogurt instead. Make your basic homemade yogurt and flavor it with fresh berries.
Reduce the amount of sugar you use in your coffee, tea, or morning cereal.
Use flavored carbonated water instead of ordinary soda and fruit juices to avoid artificial sweeteners. Another alternative is to infuse your water with various fruits of your choice.
Keep an eye on the number of dried fruits you are consuming since it typically contains additional sugar on top of the naturally found sugars found in the fruit. Fresh berries may be used in place of dried mango and other fruits.
Whenever possible, go for whole-wheat products that have not been sweetened. Check the labels to be sure you're not consuming goods that have been sugared.
Initially, many people get cranky and annoyed due to sugar cravings. However, try to manage those, as these symptoms reduce with time.
Go Through the Packaging Labels
Once a person has successfully eliminated the most apparent sources of sugar from their diet, they may move on to other goods that contain sugar. Checking descriptions of food labels may assist them in identifying the sorts of sugars that they should avoid.
Sugar is referred to by at least 61 distinct names on the food labels. The most common ones that you might encounter are corn syrup, beet sugar, cane sugar, barley malt, maple syrup, brown sugar, coconut sugar, invert sugar, and so on…
Sugars may be found in a wide variety of grocery items. Thus, going through the label is essential for those who wish to avoid high sugar intake.
Always remember that:
On food labels, sugar is often expressed as grams. Approximately one teaspoon is comparable to four grams.
Fortunately, the nutritional labels these days provide extra information to assist you in making educated selections. The new labels include information on total sugars as well as added sugars. So, check properly!
There is no labeling indicating what is included inside the product for certain items, such as fruit. Because of this, you'll need to seek up nutritional information on the internet.
Food sugar is always present in salad dressings, seasonings, spaghetti sauces, cereals, milk, and granola bars. Thus, ensure to avoid them as much as you can.
Eliminate the Common Sugar Sources
There is no need to be a label reader to recognize that certain sugary treats are off-limits if you plan to start a sugar-free lifestyle. The list of such food includes:
- Frozen treats like ice creams
- Breakfast pastries like croissants, muffins, cupcakes, etc
- Baked products
- Processed foods It's important to remember that certain foods that contain naturally occurring sugar are typically nutrient-dense and rich in fiber and should be included in a healthy, well-balanced diet as a result.
While you are getting used to the new routine, you should also exclude items from your diet that are rich in naturally occurring sugar. It will help you further educate your brain to have fewer sugar cravings in the future.
Remember the Sugar Chemical Names
Sugar is available in the market in various ways, and you'll need to get familiar with all of them if you want to eliminate it from your diet entirely. Generally speaking, substances with the suffix "-ose" should be avoided since they are typically sugars in some form.
For instance, lactose, fructose, dextrose, maltose, etc., are some of such sugar compounds you need to check on product labels.
Once you remember these sugars in all of their forms, it will be much simpler to stay away from them and follow your plan.
Quit Artificial Sweeteners
Artificial sweeteners are 200 to 13,000 times sweeter than natural sugar, depending on the kind of artificial sweetener that you are using. These have the potential to trick your brain into believing that you are truly consuming sugar.
Long-term use of these substitutions might cause sugar cravings, making it more difficult to comply with your eating plan and lose weight.
The very commonly used sugar substitutes are:
Stevia This plant-based sweetener comprises two glycosides: rebaudioside A and stevioside. These chemicals are calorie-free and are around 450 times sweeter than sugar.
Dates Dates are the dried fruits of the date palm. These sweet, chewy fruits are a great sugar substitute and have many health advantages. In contrast to processed sugar and many other sweetening agents, dates are an excellent source of minerals, including fiber, magnesium, vitamin B6, and antioxidants such as carotenoid and polyphenols, among others.
Applesauce It's easy to limit your sugar consumption by using applesauce or other fruit purées instead of sugar. Try using this substitution for baked goods such as cupcakes, biscuits, scones, and bread.
Raw Honey The glycemic index (GI) of honey is lower than regular table sugar. Because of these characteristics, it may be more nutritious than refined sugar.
Choose Unsweetened Version of Foods
There are sweetened and unsweetened versions of a plethora of meals and beverages. In the majority of circumstances, the sweetened version is the default option. There is no evidence that it has been sweetened other than the ingredients list in most cases.
It is typically a good indication that an item has not been sweetened with additional sugar if the label says "unsweetened." However, naturally occurring sugars may still be present. It is critical that you properly study the label before making your pick.
Add Protein to your Breakfast
This trick is for folks who want to stay away from sugary foods. When your body lacks protein, it often develops as a sugar craving. So, one of the easiest and most efficient sugar cravings hacks is to eat more protein. The best time to begin with it is breakfast.
Hence, begin by including nuts, seeds, lentils, eggs, milk, dairy products, etc., in your first meal of the day. The protein you consume helps in muscular growth, reduces hunger, and increases metabolism.
Plan Your Meals
Maintaining a diet when there is no plan is challenging. It is possible that if a person is hungry and does not have access to good meals and healthy alternatives, they will opt for a sugary snack more often.
Shopping for the whole week and food preparation for the full week are common activities for many individuals. They will be less tempted to grab a candy bar or a beverage if they are ready with their healthy cuisines. Following this pattern continuously will help you in the weight loss journey.
Switch Refined Carbs with Fat
A "low-fat" meal generally involves substituting a tasty and satiating dish with refined carbohydrate, i.e., sugar. Simple carbohydrates are readily digested, leading to a hunger for more sugar to re-energize the body. The juggling that our body goes through 24X7 deprives it of energy. In addition to assisting the body in maintaining hormonal balance, healthy fats also help to accelerate metabolism while regulating blood sugar levels. Sugar cravings may be reduced by eating healthy fat instead of carbohydrate sources. Some of the best sources of healthy fats are nut-extracted kinds of butter, eggs, coconut oil, etc.
Treat Your Taste Buds With Sugar Once in a While
Both naturally occurring and artificial sugars are difficult to eliminate from our lives. Those who can't accept the notion of never having birthday cake again need to remember that absolute abstinence is not always required. Sugar consumption needs to limit to nine teaspoons per day for males, and six teaspoons per day for women, according to the medical advice by American Heart Association (AHA).
- Replenish Your Gut What triggers sugar cravings? It starts with your gut flora, a community of microorganisms supporting your stomach and immune system. An unhealthy stomach implies sugar cravings which ask for more sweets, bread, fruit, or dairy products.
Excessive sugar consumption leads to dysbiosis or overpopulation of "bad" bacteria in the stomach, which causes a lot of problems.
Jeevam Health guides its clients to eliminate food items that irritate the gut flora and help balance it. Eating fermented veggies, probiotic supplements, and other foods may help balance your gut bacteria ratio.
- Get Proper Sleep The most common solution to every problem has to be – proper sleep. A good night's sleep is essential for hunger control. Sugary meals and processed carbs are far more difficult to avoid without sleep.
To compensate for the lack of sleep, the body's neurons and muscle memory smartly understand that sugar delivers a "high," so it requests for more, usually in the form of sugar cravings.
Lastly, make sure to follow a sleep routine. Set your time for relaxation before bedtime, and always prioritize sleep.
Not everyone can live without sugar. But restricting sugar is something anybody can do, and we can help you with this. At Jeevam Health, we always suggest our clients take things slow when living a healthy and fit life. Inculcating a sugar-free diet to your lifestyle along with regular exercise will certainly help you achieve the desired health benefits.