In our society today, added sugar is in everything from drinks, condiments, and most foods. It’s no wonder that many people struggle with sugar cravings and feelings of no “willpower” when it comes to sugary foods. Now, we aren’t saying that all sugar is bad and that you should avoid it at all costs. Restriction of foods leads to binging. Binging is your body taking control and eating large amounts of food due to being in starvation mode. As we enter the holiday seasons, homemade cookies and treats can be a great part of sharing love with your family. As this research suggests, the sweet tooth is universal among cultures around the world and it has played a vital role in human evolution. Human bodies have needed sugar for survival. However, now sugar is in most processed foods from French fries to salads.
Sugar becomes a problem for your health when there is overconsumption of it. Fighting off sugar cravings is less of a matter of “just saying no” and more about finding ways to reduce the root causes and finding healthier alternatives. We want to give you ways to reduce cravings for sugar, but first we need to look at why we might be craving it.
Some main reasons why we crave sugar:
1. You might be experiencing a lot of stress and anxiety in your life. When we get stressed our body can release cortisol. Cortisol is one of the main stress hormones. Cortisol does many functions for the body. Researchers have found that cortisol can cause an increase of appetite, cravings for sugar, and weight gain (1).
In Ayurveda, stress depletes the vata dosha. When we deplete the vata dosha we naturally crave sweets. To counter balance this and to replenish the vata dosha, eat more warming and cooked vegetables. Avoid chips, crackers, and other dry foods. Take more time to slow down and reduce your stress levels.
2. You might not be eating enough healthy fats/ protein. In the past few decades we saw a fight against fat, which created a new epidemic where sugar was replaced with healthy fats. Fats keep us sustained for longer, while low-calorie processed foods with high sugar or sugar alcohols give us quick energy that doesn’t last long. The alcohol sugars present in foods that say “sugar free” or “no sugar” have been noted to increase digestive issues. Adding more healthy fats and proteins into your diet can be an excellent way to have more energy. Fats are especially great to boost when you take out a lot of sugar from your diet. When you cut out processed sugars, you can drop calories from your diet, which can lead to binging the next day (or week) on sweets or other foods as your body isn’t satisfied. To prevent this, increase the fats in your diet to keep your body satiated. Some healthy fats are: ghee (clarified butter), dairy, nuts, seeds, and avocados.
3. You didn’t eat enough or you at the wrong things, that didn’t keep you full. When you don’t eat enough food for your caloric intake, your body starts to look for fuel fast. Often you’ll crave sugar because it gives you quick energy, even though it isn’t “good” energy as you can crash after. Calories are the only thing that provides real energy for your body, so eat them consistently, in the form of whole foods. Often people will skip breakfast or don’t bring snacks, which can lead to overeating sugar or binging on other foods. Food is our fuel. We need to treat our bodies right to feel healthy physically, emotionally, and mentally.
Look out for our next article on Holistic Ways to Fight Sugar Cravings…
(1) Epel, E., R. Lapidus, B. McEwen, et al. Stress may add bite to appetite in women: a laboratory study of stress-induced cortisol and eating behavior.Psychoneuroendocrinology 26: 37-49, 2001.