Well everybody knows what it’s like to have an uncontrollable sweet craving or any craving for that matter, but what is the truth about sugar cravings? Why do we crave sugar? Is it really a ‘bad’ thing to crave sugar or perhaps it’s normal if we all seem to have them. Hmmmm……Good question and one that I think I now understand. Anyone who knows me well knows that I loveeee brownies, chocolate chip cookies and chocolate, most sweets for that matter especially if they are of good quality and freshly baked. I do not however, like the processed crappy sweets like Twinkies or store bought cake and icing. Yuck! A lot of people would say that I might actually be a ‘sugar addict’ but I don’t think that’s the case and as a matter of fact I don’t even think ‘sugar’ is ‘bad.’ Can a real food be ‘bad’ anyway? Good or bad we are going to uncover the truth about sugar cravings and addictions if there is such a thing.
I have studied various nutritional theories and tried just as many to find out what it is that triggers these cravings and how to get rid of them including the Atkins diet. That one was horrible for me, I remember feeling like I could barely move my poor limbs while walking and my brain was so foggy that I couldn’t focus. I certainly couldn’t workout for the 2 weeks that I attempted it and overall just felt poopy. Why did I feel that way though if all I did was eliminate so called ‘bad carbs/sugars?’ Believe it or not your body’s best fuel source for energy is sugar from fruit, sucrose. Sucrose delivers the best energy for your cells, glucose. Yes, your body can use fat and protein but it is an inferior source and it will backfire on you making you crave sugar more intensely later. Your brain needs glucose to fuel it and this is another reason why you will end up with a foggy brain and an intense craving for sugar if you try one of these low carb diets like Atkins. Again fruits give the best fuel because it is 2 types of sugar in equal proportions, fructose and glucose. Glucose is used for fuel while Fructose helps to control insulin which is a hormone that carries glucose into your cells. If you don’t control the insulin then the blood glucose is quickly converted into fat for storage and, who the heck wants that?!
Carbs are not all created equal and there is much confusion about which are the best to eat and, fuel our bodies. Complex carbohydrates are not the best to eat, they are found in grains, pastries, breads, vegetables and legumes. They only contain glucose without the fructose and what this means is a rise in insulin due to the release of glucose in your system from these complex carbs. These high insulin levels ultimately switch glucose production into fat production that lowers blood sugar and you crave more sugar. Now imagine snacking on these complex carbs and not getting as full as you would with sucrose from fruits or honey.
Now you see why having a craving for sugar is normal, it is natural, it is for fuel. The problem is that a lot of times when that sugar cravings hits the most convenient things are processed crappy foods such as donuts, granola bars, coffee cakes that contain complex carbohydrates like wheat, oats etc. This is why people get low blood sugar because it spikes insulin which is why it’s much better to use fruit for these times of sugar cravings.
Another truth about sugar cravings is stress yes, that’s right good old stress. Stress is caused by a drop in your blood glucose that initiates high adrenaline. Chronically high levels of adrenaline can create high anxiety, depression, trouble sleeping, worry, hunger and bingeing. Adrenaline remains high when you eat too much complex carbohydrates and or too little protein. To correct these imbalances you must balance your eating habits with sucrose, good quality protein and saturated fats. Saturated fats help curb sugar cravings as well.
Now I’m not saying not saying to only ever eat fruit for sugar, try some delicious good quality homemade ice cream or chocolate, don’t deprive yourself of eating desserts just be more mindful of the quality, portion and enjoy it! There’s no need to have guilt or ‘food shame’ yourself about your sugar cravings anymore since you now know the truth about sugar cravings.