In today’s fast-paced world, where sugary treats are readily available and often indulged in, managing sugar cravings has become an essential aspect of maintaining a healthy lifestyle. The allure of sweet delights can be challenging to resist, often leading to overconsumption and potential health concerns. Whether you’re aiming to shed a few pounds, stabilise your blood sugar levels, or simply adopt a more balanced diet, understanding and effectively controlling sugar cravings is key. This article delves into the science behind sugar cravings, and explores the question, how to reduce sugar cravings? We also go into factors that contribute to them and provide strategies and solutions to help you stop those cravings and list foods to you include to reduce sugar cravings. By the end of this guide, you’ll be equipped with the knowledge and tips needed to navigate the tempting world of sugary foods while prioritising your well-being.
Reasons For Sugar Cravings?
Sugar cravings can be influenced by various factors, including biological, psychological, and environmental aspects. Here are some detailed reasons for sugar cravings, along with references to relevant studies:
1. Biological Factors
Sugar consumption results in the secretion of dopamine. Dopamine is a neurotransmitter that provides the body with pleasure and reward. This creates a positive reinforcement loop, making you craving sweets at night, during the day and so on.
Blood Sugar Fluctuations
Rapid spikes and subsequent crashes in sugar levels can lead to sugar cravings for quick energy sources like sugary foods. A 2013 study by “The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition” found that high-glycemic foods, which cause rapid sugar spikes, can lead to increased feelings of hunger and overeating.
2. Psychological Factors
Stress and Emotional Eating
Emotional stress can trigger sugar cravings for comfort foods, often rich in sugar, as a way to cope with negative emotions. A study published in “Appetite” in 2015 demonstrated that stress results in unwanted intake of high-calorie, sugary foods as individuals seek emotional comfort through eating.
3. Environmental Factors
Food Availability and Advertising
Frequent exposure to advertisements and the ready availability of sugary snacks can influence cravings by creating a subconscious desire for these foods.
Peer pressure and social situations where sugary treats are present can trigger sugar cravings, as people tend to mimic the eating behaviours of those around them. A 2016 “Health Psychology” study highlights the impact of social influence on eating behaviour, showing that individuals are more likely to consume unhealthy foods in social settings.
4. Nutrient Deficiencies
Magnesium and Chromium Deficiency
Deficiencies in these minerals have been associated with increased sugar cravings. Magnesium is involved in glucose metabolism, and chromium helps regulate blood sugar levels.
Read More: 16 Best Fruits Juice For Diabetes.
5. Gut-Brain Connection
The gut microbiota plays a role in influencing cravings and appetite. Certain gut bacteria can send signals to the brain, affecting food choices, including sugary foods. A study published in “BioEssays” in 2015 discussed how gut microbiota may influence food preferences and sugar cravings through communication with the brain.
How To Stop Sugar Cravings?
So, tackling those pesky sugar cravings can be a bit of a challenge, but here are some down-to-earth tips that might help you get the answer to how to stop sugar cravings:
1. Limit the Amount
Satisfy your sugar cravings by eating a bit of what food you are craving. Like if you think of having a chocolate or a mithai, go for a small piece or buy a small chocolate. In the case of mithai, choose a small mithai like mini rasgulla or gulab jamun. By choosing these, you will be able to satisfy your cravings as well as exercise portion control.
2. Balanced Bites
Whenever you experience sugar cravings, combine your meals with the craving food. With this, along with your sugar treat, you’ll end up consuming a good mix of protein, complex carbs, fats, and fibre. The meal will keep you full and keep those cravings away for long.
3. Hydration Game
Sometimes, your body confuses thirst with hunger. Keep sipping on water throughout the day. Water also removes toxins you intake through the food you eat.
4. Going For a Hard Stop On Sugar Cravings
For some individuals, the tactics of limiting craving foods don’t work. Rather small craving foods only entice their body for more sugar cravings. For this type of individual, cutting all simple carbs and sugars is advised. The first few hours definitely will be tough, but with strong determination and willpower, they will definitely overcome it. Practice it for a few days. Observe the body adapting to this welcoming change, and you’ll see a drop in cravings.
5. Don’t Skip Meals
Whatever you do, don’t skip meals. It’s a one-way ticket to instigating sugar cravings. Having a filling meal will kill the probability of cravings to some extent.
6. Deal with stress
Stress loves triggering sugar cravings. In our daily life, we often deal with different types of stress. Whether it’s the workload, office politics, or emotional rollercoasters, the solution to all this stress is not sugary foods. As you deal with stress, your brain seeks these sugary foods as a shield to tackle this tension. You end up eating more junk and satisfying your sugar cravings. But the reality is sugary foods are not a remedy for your stress. You seek medical help, share with your family and friends and handle stress with maturity.
7. Divert your mind
Whenever you experience sugar cravings, divert your mind. Start trying some chill activities like deep breathing or a bit of yoga, or best go for a walk/jog. Trying these physical activities will benefit you in two ways. Firstly, they will cut down the sensation of cravings. Secondly, these physical workouts will be an uncalled blessing for your body.
8. Catch Those Zzz’s
Aim for 7-8 hours of sleep time every day. Sleep deprivation and sugar cravings go hand in hand. A sleep-deprived body seeks sugar cravings as the easiest option for attaining pleasure.
9. Chewing Gum
Munching on chewing gum is a good option for cutting those sugar cravings. Go for a low-calorie, naturally flavoured chewing gum and see how your cravings go out of the window.
10. Try healthier foods
When the sugar cravings roar, reach for snacks like fruit, yoghurt, or nuts instead of chocolates, cakes, mithai, etc. Choosing healthier alternatives will add nutrients like fibre, vitamins, and proteins to benefit your body.
11. Plan your daily meals
A well-planned meal with something to eat every 3 hours will automatically cut down your sugar cravings. Plan your meals of the day in small parts, like breaking breakfast into two parts, i.e. small breakfast and mid-day meal. Similarly, for lunch and dinner. Intaking small portions of food frequently will definitely curb your cravings and help you tackle the problem with ease.
Remember, it’s all about balance. Treating yourself once in a while is cool. These tips can help you rein in those cravings, but if they’re causing a real hassle, chatting with a pro might be a good call.
Read More: Are Sugar-Free Biscuits Safe for Diabetics?
Healthy Foods that Reduce Sugar Cravings
Wondering how to stop sugar cravings instantly? Here’s a list of healthy foods that reduce sugar cravings:
High-fiber foods are foods that reduce sugar cravings. They slow down digestion and help stabilise blood sugar levels, reducing cravings. Include foods like whole grains, legumes, and fibrous vegetables in your meals.
Seeds like chia seeds, sesame seeds, etc., can combat sugar cravings. A study found that seeds like chia when consumed with yoghurt, reduce sugar cravings and provide satiety. Prepare pudding with honey and chia or sesame seeds to have it as a morning or evening snack.
Read More: Is Dragon Fruit Good For Diabetics?
The inclusion of healthy fats in your daily meals can help control sugar cravings. Opt for sources like avocados. A study published in ‘Nutrients Journal’ says including avocado in meals in place of refined carbs enhances body metabolism. It does so by suppressing hunger, reducing blood sugar spikes and also reducing the risk of diabetes.
While fruits like berries contain natural sugars, they also offer fiber and essential nutrients. So when you like craving sweets at night opt for berries. Berries like strawberries, jamun, blueberries, raspberries, etc., are good choices as they have a lower glycemic index. And their sweetness will satisfy your cravings to some extent.
Including green leafy veggies in your meals throughout the day helps to cut down the sugar cravings. Non-starchy veggies like broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, etc., have dietary fiber in them and digest slowly in our bodies. Therefore filling our bellies for a longer period and curbing sugar cravings. A study found these veggies contain a compound called thylakoids that increase satiety and increase hunger time.
Oats now join the list of foods that reduce sugar cravings. Oats are a promising source of soluble fiber and have abilities to curb sugar cravings. Opted for unflavoured traditional rolled oats to get maximised health benefits.
Lentils and Beans
Lentils and beans are among the healthy foods that reduce sugar cravings. These also keep your sugar levels in check and give you a feeling of fullness. A study in the Journal of Nutrition says replacing rice and potatoes with lentils and beans can reduce post-meal sugar levels by 20%-35%.
Dry Fruits and Nuts
Dry fruits and nuts are good snacking options as they are a source of healthy fats. Dry fruits, especially pistachios, have a good ability to curb sugar cravings. A study found pistachios can help people looking to lose weight as they help in decreasing the desire to consume sweets.
Olive and Coconut Oil
Oils like coconut and olive digest slowly in our bodies. This increases the feeling of fullness and curbs sugar cravings. But remember, coconut oil is saturated fat. Therefore, consume it in moderation. Switching to olive oil is better as it contains polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats. These oils can curb cravings as well as improve insulin functionality which is beneficial for diabetes patients.
Meat, Fish, Chicken and Eggs
For individuals who aren’t a fan of dairy products, non-vegetarian options now join the list of foods that reduce food cravings. Eating non-veg foods like meat, fish, and chicken takes time to digest. They make you feel full for an extended period, thus curbing cravings. All of them are filling food as well as providing a bunch of essential nutrients.
If you’re having sugar cravings, you can occasionally opt for some dark chocolate. It has a high cocoa content (70% or more). It contains antioxidants and is lower in sugar content than milk chocolate.
Remember, it’s normal to have occasional sugar cravings, but by incorporating these strategies and focusing on nutrient-dense foods that reduce sugar cravings you can better manage and reduce the oncoming of cravings over time.
Read More: Is Butter Milk Good for Diabetes?
In conclusion, understanding the multifaceted nature of sugar cravings is essential in our journey toward healthier eating habits. The question is, how to reduce sugar cravings? involves many factors. The interplay of biological, environmental, and psychological factors, along with potential nutrient deficiencies and the brain’s influence, highlights the complexity of this issue. By implementing strategies to curb sugar cravings, such as mindful eating, staying hydrated, managing stress, adopting a balanced diet and so on, individuals can regain control over their cravings. And make more conscious dietary choices. Incorporating nutrient-rich foods that stabilise blood sugar levels and satisfy the body’s needs can further aid in reducing sugar cravings. Remember, progress will take some time, so be patient with yourself as you switch towards a more balanced and nourishing lifestyle.
What should I eat if I crave sweets?
There are many healthier alternatives to choose when you have sugar cravings. You can switch to low-sugar fruits like berries, apples, pears, etc. You also go for a low-sugar variety of chocolates like dark chocolate. You can also eat sweets to satisfy your cravings but choose smaller portions and eat responsibly.
Why can’t I control my sugar cravings?
A fall in estrogen levels leads to a fall in serotonin production. Serotonin is one of the main chemicals in the brain that gives pleasure to the organ and our body. So sugar cravings develop with fall in levels of serotonin which makes our body turn to sugar to feel better.
Does sugar cravings mean diabetes?
No, not every sugar cravings you have means it’s diabetes. Cravings once in a while is fine. But if you experience frequent urge to consume sugary treats then there is a chance that you have hyperglycemia or high levels of blood glucose.
What organ makes you crave sugar?
The brain is the main organ which instigates sugar cravings. Sugar cravings aren’t a sign of hunger but it’s the brain’s interpretation of the reward it desires. The Hippocampus, a part of the brain which is located in the temporal lobe, is mainly responsible for this reward-seeking tendency of cravings.
What deficiency causes sugar cravings?
A deficiency of certain nutrients like calcium, magnesium, zinc, chromium and iron may cause sugar cravings. Magnesium is responsible for glucose metabolism in our body and chromium also plays a part in regulating sugar levels.
The information included at this site is for educational purposes only and is not intended to be a substitute for medical treatment by a healthcare professional. Because of unique individual needs, the reader should consult their physician to determine the appropriateness of the information for the reader’s situation.