“Yaar, kuchh meetha khaane ka mann kar raha hai!” – you often find yourself blurting out to a friend. Or, you catch yourself making your way to the fridge at the wee hours to the morning craving for some meetha. And your meals never feel complete without a dose of sweetness to finish it off, even for your breakfast perhaps.
If you feel any of these urges, it is quite likely that you are fighting from extreme sugar cravings. Now, if that happens only once in a while, you don’t have a problem. A sugary snack or dessert every once in a while definitely doesn’t hurt anyone. But it happens far too frequently, you need to learn how to manage your cravings rather than simply give in to them.
Here is everything you need to know about extreme sweet cravings and how to deal with them the right way!
8 Possible Reasons That Cause Sugar Cravings
According to experts, your appetite for sweet things may be hardwired. All the more reasons why you shouldn’t beat yourself up for craving sugary foods! But understanding the causes behind frequent cravings can actually help you manage them better.
Here are a few sugar craving reasons that may make you reach out for a sweet treats more often than you’d like:
- Sugar is a carbohydrate and carbs are linked with the release of serotonin – the feel-good brain chemical.
- The taste of sugar is also linked with the release of endorphins. Having sugar causes a ‘natural high.’
- People often mistake thirst for hunger. Thus, dehydration can also be a cause of cravings.
- A poor, imbalanced diet may make you more dependent on eating unhealthy food like sweets.
- Hormonal changes may also cause increased sugar cravings, especially in women. That’s why you hear so much about sweet cravings during pregnancy.
- Stress has also been linked to more sugar cravings.
- Wondering what deficiency causes sugar cravings? Deficiencies in minerals like calcium, iron, zinc, and magnesium play a role in increased sugar cravings.
- Lack of quality sleep may cause a lack of energy. In this case, you may want to consume sugary foods for a quick energy boost. Thus, lack of sleep can also lead to cravings.
3 Effects Of Sugar Cravings On Health
- Excess sugar cravings can lead to an overconsumption of calories on a regular basis. This, in turn, can lead to an array of health issues.
- Binge-eating sugary food causes spikes in blood sugar followed by crashes. These constant spikes and crashes may lead to irritability, fatigue, and anxiety, among other symptoms.
- Excessive sugar consumption also leads to diseases like type 2 diabetes, cognitive decline, fatty liver disease, obesity, and cardiovascular problems.
8 Remedies To Curb Sugar Cravings
Wondering how to deal with sugar cravings without giving in? Here’s how to stop sugar cravings, without completely denying yourself your favourite sweet delights.
1. Cultivate Healthy Eating Habits
Cultivating healthy eating habits is a tried and tested answer to how to reduce sugar cravings.
- Have diverse meals that include all groups of food. An imbalanced diet can lead to more cravings.
- Avoid skipping meals. If you skip meals, your body feels the need for fast fuel, thus, leading to more cravings.
- Plan your meals to ensure you keep them healthy and do not go for the first snack in sight.
2. Ensure Proper Protein Intake
Another reason why you crave sugar at night can be due to low protein intake. Your daily protein intake should be about 0.8 grams of protein per kg of your body weight. Protein helps in cell-building and keeping blood sugar levels balanced. It takes more time to be digested and keeps you satiated for longer. Thus, ensuring you are getting enough protein is also a great solution to how to avoid sugar cravings.
3. Drink Ample Water
Sometimes, you can confuse your thirst for hunger. When sweet cravings hit, try having a glass of water instead of going straight for a sugar-laden snack and see if that helps. Staying hydrated has many benefits and helping you avoid cravings is one of them.
4. Get Enough Zzzzzs
Another answer to how to control sugar cravings is to ensure you are well-rested. Experts are of the view that sugar cravings are also impacted by the amount of sleep you get. Lack of sleep obviously leads to a lack of energy. So, in order to stay productive, you may end up relying on sugar and caffeine. This way, not getting enough sleep may increase your cravings for sugary foods. So, never compromise on your beauty sleep and keep those cravings at bay!
5. Eat Naturally Sweet & Avoid Unhealthy Savoury Foods
Craving something sweet? Replace those useless candies with something tasty as well as healthy. Fruits, dates… the options are endless. You can even make your very own trail mix with dried fruits, dark chocolate chips and almonds. And while you are out there combating sugar addiction and making healthier choices, add avoiding too much salty foods to the list. Eating super salty food may lead to sugar cravings.
6. Say ‘Yes’ To Sugar-Free Candies
Sugar-free candies are naturally sweet but not packed with unhealthy, saturated sugar. This is just what you need to trick your mind when sweet cravings hit. Always keep sugar-free snacks and healthy candies handy. Chewing gum can also help keep you from giving in to cravings.
7. Don’t Go Cold Turkey
Completely denying yourself sugary foods will only make you want them more. Giving up sugary food completely is not the right solution to how to reduce sugar cravings. In fact, it’ll do you more harm than good. A little sweet indulgence now and then will not hurt you. Just make sure at least 85 percent of your meals are healthy. The remaining 15 per cent can include some treats.
8. Where There Is A Will…
Remember that giving in isn’t the only way to deal with cravings. The fact that they keep getting bigger unless you give in is not true. Believe that it will eventually subside if you can just hold on for some time.
10 Healthy Foods That Can Help Fight Sweet Cravings
One of the best ways to how to stop sugar cravings instantly is by having a tasty but healthy alternative instead. Here are some foods that can help you fight your cravings:
Strawberries, blackberries, blueberries and raspberries are low-glycemic fruits with enough sweetness to satiate your cravings. Their sweetness that is devoid of harmful calories makes it a healthy food option when you’re hankering for something meetha. Have them just as they are, throw a handful of them into pancakes, pulao, and breakfast cereal, or whip up a sugar-free compote – they taste just as well without compromising on health.
2. Trail Mix
Made with nuts and dried fruit, trail mix makes the perfect snacking alternative to unhealthy processed munchies like chips and popcorn. But don’t go overboard with the cashews as they are loaded with calories. Have it as a mid-morning indulgence, chomp of a handful after a fitness sesh, or with your breakfast cereals, they are high on health and energy. Don’t consider it as a midnight snack though.
3. Chia Seeds
These have a highly impressive nutritional profile and can help you curb cravings. Replace your sugary dessert with chia seed pudding or a chia seeds and yoghurt delight if you feel a sugar craving after meal. Don’t miss out on keeping a handful of these in your bag that you carry to work or gym.
Nuts like pistachios contain healthy fats, fibre and protein and can help you curb your cravings. The subtle sweetness in them assuages your immediate sweet cravings without making you feel overloaded with sweet in terms of taste or calories. Here’s yet another option that you can consider as a mid-meal munchies at work or gym.
It not only tastes amazing but also contains fibre and healthy fats. The mild flavours come to life when you supplement it with a dash of lemon, coriander leaves, and some condiments for your favourite guacamole (guac) spread on toast. Experiment with healthy ingredients and condiments of your choice and make the most of avocados.
6. Sesame Seeds
Like all seeds, sesame seeds also contain fibre and healthy fats and are a great alternative to unhealthy snacks. Make a bowl of smoothie for breakfast or mid-meal snack with fresh fruits and sprinkle some sesame seeds over it for a blend of health and crunch. Let your creativity soar in the kitchen as you explore including these sesame seeds to overcome your sudden sugar cravings.
7. Dark Chocolate
Swapping your regular chocolate for dark chocolate is a healthy choice. Chocolate sans the unhealthy dollops of sugar is so much better in taste and health. For those of you who are partial to milk and caramel chocolates, decide whether you woudld rather give up on your obsession for sweet chocolates or health.
Instead of reaching out for high-sugar, high-fat foods, eat fruits to satiate your cravings. No, don’t cringe at the thought because it’s all in your mind. Sit yourself down and convince yourself to opt for healthy sweets like fruits, if health scores high in your agenda.
Rich in calcium and protein, yoghurt is another healthy snack you can go for when the cravings hit. It can help regulate appetite and curb cravings. Add some fruits or natural fruit juices to your yoghurt when you are craving a dessert.
Dates are tasty and nutritious, a perfect combination for a sweet fix. But make sure to not have 2-3 dates at a time. This bite-sized burst of energy might not be high on taste. But it’s exactly what you can have for that much-needed pump of energy at work, before and after a fitness sesh, or just when you want something sweet without wanting to pile on the calories.
Cutting off sugar entirely will do you more harm than good. What you need to do is equip yourself with practical, sustainable hacks that can help you manage your cravings the right way. The good thing is, it’s never too late to cultivate healthier eating habits! And the positive changes you notice in your health will keep you motivated to keep practising these habits consistently!
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