Cravings are often understood as the intense need to have a certain food and are an essential trap for emotional eating. Experts claim that a typical food craving lasts for 3-4 minutes. You can consider these strikes of sugar craving as the villains in your diet story. A significant number of people are unable to shed the extra pounds due to the occasional craving attacks that derail them from their diet plan.
Essentially, nothing is wrong with cravings. Except that you crave sugar, which is harmful not only for your gums but also for your body. Sugar is the quickest source of energy for your body but it isn’t the healthiest fuel. It gives your body an impression that it is full, when actually, it is not.
So, what causes such sugar cravings? There are numerous reasons behind such cravings including hormonal disturbances, pregnancy, lack of sleep, energy shortage, and more.
Here is a look at some of the typical causes of sugar cravings:
- Hormonal imbalance
Any disturbance in your hormonal levels could trigger a craving. Imbalances in the hormones, serotonin and leptin, correspond with food craving. It is also possible for you to crave a dish due to endorphins. These are released in the body after you have eaten and equates with addiction.
- Emotional disturbance
If you are having an emotional day for no reason, it’s possible that your body is facing jumbled hormone markers. Or, emotional disturbance can also lead to hormonal disturbance. Either way, the situation can lead to cravings. This is particularly true in the case of people who eat for comfort.
You have probably already heard about this cause for food cravings. When a woman has a bun in the oven, she undergoes tremendous hormonal imbalances. The taste and smell receptors don’t work at their best. As a result, you become a victim of cravings.
- Lack of sleep
Restlessness is linked with your food choices in multiple ways. For one, if you don’t get enough sleep, your body ends up producing the hunger hormone, which leads you to food cravings and overeating. Research also indicates that sleep deprivation leaves a direct impact on the part of your brain that makes rational decisions. This sets the trap for having more junk food.
Lastly, sleeplessness is linked with low energy levels. So, your body ends up looking for quick sources of energy, which means more sugar craving, as sugar is the quickest fuel for energy albeit not the healthiest.
Stress can significantly impact your eating habits. The release of cortisol, the stress hormone, kicks off a game of unsteady blood sugar levels. During such a rollercoaster ride of high and low sugar levels in the blood, your body seeks sugar to maintain its energy markers. This culminates in sugar cravings. Researchers at the University of Michigan dug out that sugar cravings of the participants tripled in response to the rise in the levels of the stress hormones.
- Digestive concerns
Your gut is packed with friendly bacteria. However, a drop in their levels translates into snowballing numbers of fungi and yeast. This overgrowth in the numbers sets the stage for sugar cravings as the microbiota demand more and more sugar.
At the same time, food sensitivities and allergies can also come to a crescendo of sugar craving. The immune response to having allergenic foods results in immune-system mediated cravings. You can work around such a sugar craving by restoring the microbial population or dealing with the allergies themselves.
- Iron deficiency
Iron deficiency correlates with a drop in your energy levels. In the case of such a deficiency, your body craves for more sugar to make up for the lack of energy. This means that you’d welcome sugar cravings due to this concern. Besides, a magnesium deficiency could also be behind your sugar cravings.
- You had salty foods
If you are eating from outside or having processed food, the levels of salt in your blood go up without you even knowing it. The fact of the matter is that the saltier the dish, the bigger your sugar craving. When you eat naturally salty foods such as olives and cheese, however, your sugar cravings will reduce.
- Too much starch/carbohydrate
If you have had too much starch, you are bound to have a sugar craving. Your meal portions need to be balanced. In doing so, they should include a portion of healthy fats and protein in addition to carbs. Carbs alone fail to make you feel full and don’t provide the needed energy. This sets the alarm bells for cravings.
- Having lesser calories
This is also another reason for sugar cravings. Less calories mean that your body has less energy. In events like these, it looks for a quick energy source, which by now you know is sugar. Sugar provides little energy but your body needs more fuel in no time, which leads to more sugar cravings. This prepares the ground for sugar cravings.
- Starving yourself
If you ate less in the morning and in the afternoon, you are depriving your body of crucial energy. Anna Taylor, MS, RD, LD, highlights the problem with this concern. She says, “Truly, you’re setting yourself up for failure in the afternoon and evening… If you go too long without eating, your body will crave the fastest fuel it can think of — refined grains and simple sugars.” Therefore, stop skipping meals or waiting too long between meals.