What Causes Sugar Cravings

Sugar craving, or any kind of craving, for that matter, may sometimes indicate either a deficiency of certain nutrients or any other minor, underlying health problem. This Buzzle article helps you find out the causes of these cravings as well as various ways to control them.
PsycholoGenie Staff
There are very few of us, who don't have a sweet tooth. It is a natural characteristic common to almost everyone. The problem with satisfying a sweet tooth is that, it always leaves you desiring more. You eat a few cookies and get a high, but after two hours, you're back to wanting something else to experience the same high. When you feel lazy in the afternoon, you probably find that, munching on a candy bar helps you get out of it. However, in the evening, you need something else to get that energy boost again. These are cravings for sugar that you are experiencing simply because, you are eating simple sugars, getting a high and an energy boost for a short time, and then again, experiencing fatigue after eating sugar. This is not because you are actually lazy, but because, you have developed some unhealthy habits. Let's take a look at what the causes of this problem are, and how to stop cravings that make you head for a sugary treat so often.

Causes

While succumbing to temptation once in a while is alright; doing so all the time can cause a lot of problems. Why does this happen? There are several reasons, which have been mentioned below:
  • Stress: Stress is one of the prime contributors to your sugar cravings. When you are in a stressful situation, your body releases adrenalin to deal with it. This process requires a lot of energy, that physically drains you. Because of this, you are most likely to experience a craving. You must have also noticed that, after satisfying the craving, your body does feel satisfied, but only for a short period and then, returns to its original state.
  • Depression: The body produces a hormone called serotonin, that keeps the mind and body feeling good. Depression, a state of mind, causes these hormone levels to plummet, and it also affects the metabolism. You may have noticed that when you are depressed, you turn to 'comfort foods', or foods that make you feel good. Generally, comfort foods are most likely to be sweet, because of the sugar cravings you may experience when you are depressed. Sugar has the ability to release serotonin, however, this does not last for very long. Even if you satiate your craving, you are going to experience another one in a short span along with your depressed state of mind.
  • Lack of Exercise: Lack of exercise also causes low amounts of serotonin to be produced, which leads to an intense craving for something sweet.
  • Low-carb Diets: Those of you, who are on low-carb diets are definitely going to experience these cravings. Carbohydrates are broken down into sugars, which are absorbed by the blood and keep you going. If you are on such a diet, due to the lack of glucose in the body, you are going to experience sweet cravings.
  • Exhaustion: A combination of any or all the aspects mentioned above can lead to fatigue and subsequent craving for something sweet. When you feel drained, either physically or emotionally, these cravings come to the fore, to which you give in and set off on a binging spree.
Controlling the Craving

Sweet cravings can lead to the development of some very unhealthy habits, mainly eating the wrong thing at the wrong time, and living with the feeling that consuming sugar in the form of a variety of foods can keep you going and help you to deal with all your problems. To control this, you can follow a few steps given below:
  • Give in to a craving, but only once in a while. It is alright to give in to it when you deeply desire something sweet. In such a case, reduce the portion, and relish the flavor for longer. Go for a small piece of your favorite chocolate, and enjoy it thoroughly, rather than going for the whole candy bar.
  • Some people are advised to avoid sugary foods completely. These foods contain simple sugars that once digested, leave you wanting for more. Many of you may find this difficult. If you feel the need for sugar, try a fruit instead. A banana is any day healthier than a chocolate pastry. Also, try chewing gum when you feel the need to eat something sweet.
  • Divert your mind. One of the reasons we experience sweet cravings, is sometimes just plain boredom. If you keep yourself occupied, your mind will not have the time to think about all those sweet treats. Walk, read, socialize, work, do whatever you need to, to keep your mind off them.
  • To reduce cravings, it is important that you exercise regularly and follow the right kind of diet. Since exercise produces serotonin, you naturally feel good and don't feel the need to satisfy your sweet tooth to do so. Many people starve to lose weight. As explained above, sugar cravings are a result of low carbohydrate levels in the body, sometimes caused due to starving. Healthy eating can definitely take care of this problem.
  • Eat often. The longer the breaks between each meal, the more likely you are to crave sugar and sugary treats. Eat every two hours, but healthy foods. Snack on nuts, fruits, a vegetable sandwich prepared from whole wheat bread, etc. Avoid refined carbohydrates like rice, potatoes, white bread, etc. Instead go for complex carbohydrates in the form of whole wheat grains.
  • Manage stress & depression. Turn to any kind of relaxation activities, such as yoga and meditation, or go get yourself a massage. You must calm your mind so that you are not affected by these unhealthy habits. One problem triggers off several others, and just leads to a downward spiral thereon. Nip the problem in the bud by taking care of your mind and body.
Don't alter your habits drastically, as this will just lead to more cravings. Taking it slow is the best way to reduce or control this problem. Don't be too harsh on yourself. You are human, and it is natural to be affected by such problems with the kind of lifestyle you lead. However, as is the case with almost every problem, there is a solution to it too, and it is simple. Just keep going strong, strengthen your mind and body, and never again will you succumb to temptation without your will.