Why do we crave sugar, and is there anything we can do about it?
We all experience this situation pretty frequently (especially us women)-we ambitiously decide to eat healthier and reduce our sugar and carbohydrate intake, and after about three days, all of our will power goes down the drain. We just cannot stop thinking about chocolate, brownies, muffins, or other delicious desserts anymore. Finally, we give in, and then, we usually beat ourselves up about not being strong enough to resist and failing at our goal yet again. I honestly don’t remember anymore how many times in my life I have been repeating this cycle over and over again. So frustrating!!!! But what if I told you that more often than not, these cravings are actually not our fault, and they have absolutely nothing to do with willpower?
There are many different reasons why we crave sugar. Here are some of the most common ones:
- Food sensitivities
- Adrenal fatigue
- Monthly hormonal changes in women
- Parasites, Candida (a type of yeast), and bacterial overgrowth
In the case of food sensitivities, we often crave what we are sensitivities to in order to avoid withdrawal symptoms.
When adrenal fatigue is involved and our system is overworked, the body asks for a quick “pick-me-up” that sugars temporarily supply. The problem is sugar actually stresses the body, so this can start a bad vicious cycle.
When we suffer under hormonal imbalances, which often happen during the pre-menstrual phase or pregnancy, we feel particularly driven to reach for chocolate or other simple carbohydrates such as chips or bread.
And finally, pathogenic bacteria, parasites, and yeast, such as Candida, feed off sugar. These guys pretty much force us to eat more sugar so they can thrive inside our bodies and as their numbers increase, so do our sugar cravings.
Wouldn’t it be nice to be able to get off the sugar roller coaster? The good news is, we actually can. So, besides addressing the four main underlying reasons for sugar cravings, here are four additional steps you can implement today to reduce your cravings immediately.
- Add more protein into your diet.
Protein actually helps to balance blood sugar, which really helps reduce cravings.Great protein foods are grass-fed beef, whey protein (non-denatured from grass-fed cows), lentils, wild fish, beans, kefir, free-range eggs, and raw cheese.
- Consume more healthy fats.
Your body can burn sugar or fat for energy. When you start consuming healthier fats (e.g., Mediterranean diet) your body will become a fat burner.Examples for sources of good fats are coconut oil, olive oil, avocados, nuts, and seeds.
- Increase fiber.
Fiber helps you stay fuller longer. It also supports detoxification and can reduce Candida symptoms in your body (the major cause of sugar cravings). Try and aim for 35-40g of fiber a day.Great fiber-rich foods include vegetables (avocados, artichokes, peas, Brussels sprouts, turnips, and acorn squash), nuts, seeds (especially chia and flax seeds), and legumes such as black beans, chickpeas, and lentils.
- Eat more sour or probiotic-rich foods.
Probiotic foods fight off and reduce Candida. These foods include kefir, fermented vegetables such as sauerkraut and kimchi, kombucha, natto, raw cheese, miso and apple cider vinegar.Using apple cider vinegar or lemon juice in your water throughout the day can decrease your sugar cravings.
If you want to find out more about how to successfully reduce your sugar intake and keep it that way, look for my next blog in two weeks.