While food cravings, and sugar cravings in particular can often be linked to a deeper source- like stress or depression, eating and lifestyle habits can also frequently trigger sugar cravings. Consider how the following might be causing some of your cravings:
Coffee and tea give you a nice jolt in the morning, but can leave you dragging later in the day. This can cause you to reach for a white flour or sugary pick-me-up to boost your energy. Slowly try to eliminate or limit your caffeine intake to decrease cravings for sugar- especially in the afternoon and evening.
Alcohol can trigger cravings in a couple of ways. First, it lowers your inhibitions to make healthy choices, but it can also impact and disrupt your sleep leading you to seek an easy energy fix.
3) Lack of Sleep
Limited sleep can trigger sugar cravings when your energy is low. You might find yourself choosing muffins or donuts after a poor night’s sleep. That’s because your will power declines when you’re tired, and you seek foods that will give you quick energy. But these sweets quickly spike your blood sugar leading to crashes later and a cycle of energy highs and lows.
4) Artificial Sweeteners
If you think you’re making healthy choices by choosing aspartame, sucralose, or any other sugar substitute- you might actually be doing more damage than if you just had white table sugar. Sugar substitutes confuse your body. So when you have real sugar, your body is not sure how to process it and may not use the real sugar for energy because the fake sugar didn’t work. And because your body didn’t have the real sugar it wanted, it leaves you craving more.
5) Refined Carbs
White flour, white rice, and many of the starches found in “gluten-free” foods, are processed just like simple sugars. Consuming a lot of highly-processed flour-based foods- including crackers, pretzels, and bread make your body want more because you quickly metabolize these refined foods. They leave you hungry because of their low fiber content and cause you to seek quick energy options to increase your blood sugar levels. Choose whole grains like quinoa, brown rice, or rolled oats to offer you blood sugar-stabilizing fiber.
6) Low-Fat Foods
Beware of “low-fat,” “reduced-fat,” or “fat-free” foods. Food manufacturers often use sugar to replace the fat in these items to maintain their flavor and texture. Read food labels carefully- it’s not calories and fat that matter, it’s sugar content. 4 grams of sugar equals one teaspoon. A 6-ounce flavored fat-free yogurt can easily contain the equivalent of five teaspoons of sugar. The more sugar you consume, the more you want.