There are so many factors to weight loss and health. There are over 100 different types of diets out right now that swear to produce great weight loss results.
The thing is, nothing will work if we aren’t able to stick with it long enough.
So why is it that you are craving sugar and carbohydrates all the time? Why do you feel controlled by these unhealthy foods? Are you going crazy?
No you aren’t crazy. The truth is, eating sugar and processed carbohydrates creates a viscous cycle that leads to craving more.
This doesn’t mean you can’t ever eat sugar again. Of course, you will, you’re human. What we are talking about today is getting your sugar cravings under control and lessening how often they come about.
Here are 3 of the main reasons you literally can’t stop eating sugar.
1. Your body is a well-oiled machine.
It knows its job and it does it well, sometimes too well. Sugar also is known by the name glucose, is what fuels our body. It is in every cell and is our main source of energy.
All foods eventually break down into sugar in the body. Some are absorbed quickly and others, because they are paired with fiber or fat, break down much slower.
Refined sugars and highly processed carbohydrates like white bread, chips, and other prepackaged snacks and desserts, are stripped of their nutrients like fiber. This means they are absorbed quickly into the bloodstream and cause what is called a blood sugar spike.
This leads to the body releasing Insulin to regulate the blood sugar and bring it back to normal.
Over time your body has gotten used to how much sugar you eat and how often. Since we are well-oiled machines and we naturally create shortcuts, the body is now releasing too much insulin every time your blood sugar is spiked.
This extra insulin winds up pulling too much sugar from the blood and bringing the blood sugar too low. This then leads to the brain sending signals to consume more sugar to balance the blood sugar level.
Basically, we create a rollercoaster going from high blood sugar to low. Each time we eat sugar, we are spiking it again only for the insulin to drop it dramatically and cause more sugar cravings.
Consistent sugar cravings are a signal from your body telling you that something is off. It is looking for something to restore the balance.
Like I mentioned, we are well-oiled machines so the body knows that sugar is the quick fix, but that doesn’t mean that it is the best choice.
Sugar is the quick fix but not the problem solver. Instead, reaching for a balanced meal with healthy fat, fiber, and protein is the best option. It restores our blood sugar back to normal and with a consistency of eating these foods and not indulging, the cravings will naturally lessen.
But wait…there’s more!
2. Hidden Sugars
Sadly, there is sugar added to just about everything these days. It is used to make food more palatable. Everything from salad dressing to peanut butter can easily have sugar added.
Beginning to read your labels and focusing in on how much sugar is in the food and products you are consuming is very helpful. It is also helpful to know that while you may cut out sugar, if you are eating white carbohydrates, they can cause sugar cravings too.
The reason is this form of carbohydrate is highly processed and stripped of most nutrients like fiber. This means it is absorbed basically as fast as candy in the bloodstream causing the same rollercoaster reaction.
Often times foods labels are misleading. If a label says any of the following please question it and read the ingredients.
- Low fat
- No fat
- Low sugar
- No sugar
- Low carb
- No carb
A product is often added to these to make up for the loss of the sugar, fat, or carbohydrate. For instance, most low fat or no fat foods have added sugars in them. Now when it comes to the low sugars and carbohydrates they may have additives that are chemically made to keep the flavor without sugar needing to be listed as an ingredient.
Learning to read food labels and ingredients and keep an eye out for alternative forms of sugar and artificial sweeteners is important. Artificial sweeteners have the same effect on our cravings and blood sugar.
Look out for these alternative forms of sugar: corn syrup, fructose, glucose, lactose, honey, malt, sorbitol and molasses.
And keep an eye for these artificial sweeteners: saccharin, aspartame, and sucralose.
I do want to mention juice here as well. You may think that juice is healthy. Your orange juice is made from fresh squeezed organic oranges. The thing is, once 8 oz glass can easily contain 20 grams of sugar. To put that into perspective for you the AHA’s daily intake of sugar recommends only 25 grams for women and 37 for men.
Fruit in its whole and natural form is a perfect choice when we want something sweet. It is important to enjoy it in its whole form so we ingest the fiber. Dried fruit and fruit juices are too high in sugar.
It may take 20 oranges to make a bottle of orange juice and let’s say a glass is 3-5 oranges. It is easy to drink a full glass of orange juice. You will get all of the sugar and no fiber. It isn’t so easy to eat 3-5 oranges. We would get less sugar and all of the fiber. See the difference?
And of course …
3. Stress and Restriction
Last, but not least is the emotional aspect of our cravings. You may be doing amazing not eating much processed sugar and even have very low sugar cravings.
Then something happens. Work stress, sick kids, lack of sleep, PMS… and the list can go on. When life gets a little hard we look for comfort to help us relax, unwind, and feel good.
We enjoy sugary foods and so we reach for them out of comfort or a reward. Often times we will be eating well for a week or two and think we deserve an indulgence because of how well we are eating.
The hard part here is that our relationship with food is often skewed still at this point and we can easily get stuck into the all or nothing diet mentality.
When we finally do have sugar for whatever reason, instead of enjoying it for the one occasion and then going back to a well-balanced food plan, we continue to indulge.
The all or nothing diet mentality is one where we think we can either have sugar or we can’t. If we do have it we often give up for the day or weekend and try to get back on track a few days later.
While this will happen from time to time naturally, the faster we stop eating the sugar, the sooner the cravings will lessen.
So how do you stop craving it so much?
The best way to lessen sugar cravings is to keep blood sugar balanced and get out of the blood sugar rollercoaster. Simple ways to do this are:
- Eat fewer refined carbohydrates and even eat low carb
- Lower your sugar intake to just real whole fruit
- Eat more fiber
Learning new techniques to deal with stress instead of habitually reaching for food can help too.
In the end, we are human so we will indulge again. Instead of beating ourselves up over it we can focus on getting back to our food plan. Enjoy the indulgence and then go back to whole foods so we can balance out our blood sugar.