We all know craving sugar is real and we all had to deal with it once or twice or more…
Sugar signals the body to release serotonin, a hormone which boosts your mood. Sounds nice, doesn’t it?
No. Sugar is highly addictive and the cravings it causes can take over your mind and body.
Glucose and fructose
To understand what sugar does to our bodies, you need to understand the two types of carbohydrates: glucose and fructose.
Glucose is mainly found in whole grains, fruits and vegetables. It’s a very simple sugar molecule, which is a building block of mainly plant-based complex carbs. The main job of glucose is providing our bodies with energy. Cells take up glucose absorbed by the digestive tract and either use it or store it for later use. Hence, it’s easily broken down by every cell in our body.
Fructose is also a simple sugar, mainly found in fruits and sweet vegetables. However, it is almost exclusively broken down by our liver.
Eating a high amount of fructose not only raises blood fructose levels, but the liver has to store all that excess fructose it can’t break down as fat (usually around the liver) in the form of triglycerides.
Why has sugar such a big impact on us?
After eating simple carbs the blood sugar crash affects the part of the brain which is controlling our impulses. This can lead to a loss of self control and you start to crave more unhealthy foods.
Nowadays, sugar addiction is no surprise, because this stuff is everywhere. Here are some reasons why you might crave something sweet:
Back in caveman times we needed as much sugar as we possibly could get our hands on, in order to stay warm. We needed as much body fat as possible to survive those long, cold winters.
Sugar was a very rare resource at this time, just a few bites of berries every now and then. Something which is unthinkable today.
Today the desire for sugar isn’t gone and we have much easier access to it.
Again, sugar increases serotonin levels, like most antidepressant medications. Imagine you’re at home, feeling down and giving in to your cravings by eating your favourite chocolate bar. You’re actually self-medicating. Eating processed carbs gives you the fasted serotonin and energy boost. But also the fastest sugar crash.
Not long after eating something sweet, your blood glucose levels crash. Your body is irritated and starts to crave more sugar to boost your blood glucose levels back up and to have more energy.
Try instead a hot cup of fruit tea, talk to a friend of yours or go for a walk. Distract your attention from the chocolate. If you do have to eat, aim for slow releasing carbs like berries, oatmeal, carrots or a huge water melon.
A nice sweet dessert after dinner, or an ice-cream every time we got a good mark at school.
We are conditioned to want something sweet and we associate it with so many good things. With rewards. Out of this habit the cravings begin. Much like smoking.
Try to think of something salty to hack your brain, such as pickles, nuts, eggs or beef jerky.
How to cut off sugar
Here are some tips, that should help you to get rid of those sugar cravings:
Skip artificial sweeteners
Don’t drink diet sodas or eat sugar-free gum. Large amounts of it can worsen your cravings. Frankly, stay away from all the chemical and synthetic crap und try to look for natural ways to sweeten your meals.
Eat whole fruits
True, fruits contain fructose. But a few servings a day are definitely okay. It’s satisfying and fruits provide lots of vitamins and minerals! Focus on strawberries, blueberries, kiwifruits, coconut, grapefruit (basically all sorts of citrus-fruits and berries) and pears.
Avoid fruit juice or dried fruits
Dried fruits contain a lot more concentrated sugar, because they are dehydrated. The high amount of sugar confuses your appetite mechanism, why it’s nearly impossible to stop eating. If you eat dried fruits however, make sure to drink a ton of water to make up for the dehydration process.
Fruit juices are extracted. Therefore, they contain pure sugar, which goes straight to the liver. No good. Orange juice sounds healthy, but you have to go easy on those.
Check your magnesium intake
If you suffer from a magnesium deficiency it’s possible that you’re craving chocolate in particular. Try to overcome those cravings by eating plenty of dark leafy greens, tofu, legumes and nuts.
Guys and gals, it’s really important to start reading the nutrition labels!
Hidden sugar is everywhere, but mostly in processed food. Even if sugar isn’t listed on the label, look for: agave syrup, corn sweetener, brown sugar, corn syrup, dextrose, fructose, glucose, lactose, maltose, maltodextrin, sucrose, fruit juice concentrate, honey, invert sugar, dextrin, malt sugar, molasses, syrup or simply raw sugar.
You see, the list is long. Start to realise what you put in your mouth!
Limit access to temptation
Remove all your sweet stuff from the house and stop buying it en masse. Make it harder for yourself to get access to sugar. In that way you have to think about if you really need it now.
Spice it up
Try to naturally sweeten your food with spices like cinnamon, nutmeg, honey and cardamom. Perfect in your oatmeal or yogurt in the morning. Especially cinnamon will help you with balancing your blood sugar. It’s a stable for the fat loss meal plans we create.
Eat the chocolate you’re craving
Sometimes you just have to give in. If you’re craving chocolate, just eat some. But one of the super dark chocolates with at least 85% cocoa. Those are actually quite healthy and harder to overeat.
But, of course moderation is key!
Enjoy every bite and learn to stop.
It’s all about knowledge, habits and willpower! Addictions and cravings start in your brain. Remember that!