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Love the sugar rush? Time to listen to your body

Let’s understand the root cause behind those unpredictable sugar cravings and how to conquer them

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11 Aug '23
5 min read


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After an exhausting long day at work, those cravings to indulge in a massive ice cream tub or gorge on Indian sweets like rosogolla or barfi is not uncommon. Now, what does the first bite offer? An instant burst of energy, that we know as sugar rush.

When we consistently give in to these cravings, they can adversely affect our health, causing obesity, diabetes, etc.

The reason for these cravings can be both physiological and psychological. 

Findings from a 2018 research review pointed out that our cravings are due to classical conditioning. Over time, certain behaviours that feel rewarding can lead us to these longings. It is like your mind and body are trained to desire it.

Warning ahead. The craving for this sugar rush can become habitual. In a separate 2016 research review, it was discovered that processed foods, especially those with added sugar, is likely to create habit-forming behaviours in both people and animals like rats and mice.

Low protein intake is another culprit. When you don't consume enough protein and fats, sugar is released into your bloodstream too quickly, causing your blood sugar levels to fluctuate. Your body then craves quick energy from sugar to stabilise this roller coaster.

Similarly, a high-carbohydrate diet can trigger sugar cravings for the same reason. Simple carbohydrates rapidly enter the bloodstream, raising blood sugar and insulin levels. Without enough fiber, protein, and fats in your diet, you won't feel full or satisfied, leading to the desire for more sugar.

Now that we have understood how sugar cravings work let’s find a way to overcome them. 

How to beat those sugar cravings  
 

Know your triggers: Identify your craving first! If it's chocolate, you might need more magnesium - go for dark chocolate (70% cacao or higher) for a healthier option. Craving fruit? Great! Your body might be asking for more vitamins and minerals. 

Since cravings have a chance of messing with your hormone insulin, they can cause a drop in blood sugar levels, tricking you into feeling hungry for specific foods, even when you don’t need them. 

So, the next time a craving strikes, don't fret! Take a short walk outside or find a quick distraction. If the sweet tooth still doesn't leave after about 20 minutes, treat yourself to a smaller portion to satisfy the craving without feeling deprived.

Stay hydrated: For those struggling with a serious sugar addiction, adopt a one-day-at-a-time approach. A helpful tip from experts is to reach for a tall glass of water before giving in to cravings. Often, our body's thirst signals can be mistaken for hunger cues, and hydrating may satisfy the craving. Drinking enough water throughout the day can help prevent unnecessary snacking and reduce the desire for sugary foods.

If the sugar craving persists, consider increasing your protein intake in your meals. Incorporating fermented foods and supplements into your diet can also help meet your daily vitamin and mineral requirements. 

Opt for mindful eating: When cravings hit hard, resisting it might not help. Give it a few minutes, feel it, and soon it might fade. You might be surprised how it lessens. Try Mindfulness-Based Eating Awareness Training (MB-EAT), a mindfulness meditation that helps you manage emotions and make better food choices. It makes you more aware of your emotions. It's like a superpower that lets you handle those feelings and make conscious food choices.

Backed by loads of research, regular practice can actually change your brain's structure and activity, helping you regulate that ‘fight or flight’ stress response. So, when stress tempts you to reach for a chocolate bar, you'll have the power to pause, recognise your feelings, and maybe opt for a comforting cup of tea instead. 

But don’t forget to be kind to yourself. If the craving is getting the better of you look for healthier alternatives like fibre-rich oats and jaggery ladoo. Enjoy in moderation.  

Go for a balanced diet: For every diet-related issue, a balanced diet is a no-brainer. Here also, it helps stabilises blood sugar levels, reducing the intensity of sugar cravings throughout the day.

So mix it up with complex carbs, protein, and healthy fats in your diet. 

Go for fibre-rich foods like whole grains, fruits, and veggies - they slow down sugar absorption, preventing those nasty spikes. Don't forget the protein power! Lean meats, beans, and legumes can help regulate blood sugar and keep you feeling full. Oh, and those nuts, seeds, and avocados? They provide healthy fats that balance blood sugar by slowing glucose absorption.

Managing stress: Often you will find yourself giving into those sugar cravings after a stressful day. This is due to low serotonin levels which play a crucial role in regulating appetite, food intake and even our mood and feelings of overall well-being. 

But tackling anxiety is easier said than done. Regular exercise can even improve moods and reduce stress as it releases those ‘feel-better’ endorphins. Add meditation and deep breathing exercises to it to alleviate emotional triggers for sugar cravings.

Get enough sleep: The above-mentioned stress and anxiety even lead to sleep deprivation, especially at night. It disrupts hormone regulation leading to sugar cravings and the consumption of comfort food (think caramel popcorn). Try to prioritise sleep, at least seven to nine hours at night. It helps regulate your appetite and curb cravings. 


 

Get external support: If you can't beat your cravings on your own, talk to your doctor or consult a nutritionist or dietician. They can help identify any underlying health issues or medication side effects behind those cravings. Dieticians and nutritionists can create personalized meal plans tailored to your specific dietary needs and preferences to stabilise blood sugar levels and lessen that longing.



Once we understand the science behind our yearnings, it empowers us to make healthier choices and overcome them. By staying hydrated, adopting mindful eating practices, and seeking professional help, we can beat those cravings and embrace a balanced, nourishing lifestyle. 

Finally, it’s about making conscious choices and enjoying treats in moderation for a happier, healthier life.




 

Category : Health and Wellness


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Written by Madhuwanti Saha

Writer, daydreamer, procrastinator