Do you regularly experience sugar cravings? Health professionals believe this could be one of the key factors making it hard to stick to healthy eating habits.
Sugar cravings are extremely common, so don’t worry you’re not alone. In fact, a 2003 study by the USA National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, reported that up to 97% of women and 68% of men stated experiencing some sort of food craving, including cravings for sugar.
Those experiencing a sugar craving feel a strong urge to eat something sweet, and can find it difficult to control themselves around food. This can lead to binge eating or over-consuming calories, sometimes on a regular basis.
So are cravings actually telling you something? Might you need that late-night bowl of ice cream?
Ok, let’s set the record straight, nobody needs added sugar. The more sugar we eat, the more we crave it.
Every bite you eat is information for your gut bacteria, which impacts on your digestion and immune system. Research is showing that your gut bacteria may influence cravings as well as your behaviour. When you eat sweets, you’re feeding bacteria that thrive on sugar, which crowds out healthier bacteria and alters the balance in your gut eco system.
The sugar-loving bacteria can then send signals to the brain to crave for more sugar, impacting on your decision-making. When you think about it, it’s not all about will power!
Is there a secret in beating the cravings?
There’s light at the end of the tunnel, and plenty of strategies to use – Yes, you’ll have to be strategic with this one!
- Slowly increase fermented foods (e.g., kefir, sauerkraut, kimchi, or kombucha) in your diet, which can help balance gut bacteria
- Don’t go more than three or four hours without eating. When you eat, incorporate at least one quality source of fiber (vegetables are you friends) and protein (like eggs, lean meat, and beans) with every meal or snack
- Drink plenty of water and unsweetened beverages
Healthier options to satisfy stubborn cravings:
It’s best to eat a whole, unprocessed food that has naturally occurring sugar and fiber, such as fresh fruits or unsweetened dried fruits (juice doesn’t count), otherwise try:
- Chocolate: 25 grams of 70% or darker chocolate (ideally raw chocolate)
- Avocado pudding: 2 ripe avocados, ¼ cup unsweetened cocoa powder, 3 tbsp 100% pure maple syrup. Blend until smooth, chill and then, enjoy!
- Add spices to your food, like cinnamon and vanilla. Even savoury spices (thyme, rosemary) can help curb those sugar cravings
- Eat a serving of healthy starch like sweet potato, brown rice, or 100% whole grain bread
Quality over quantity!
Choose your food based on quality rather than quantity. By swapping the sugar-loaded, processed products for high-quality, real foods that you recognise!
When you opt for quality food choices, cravings often subside. The aim here is not deprivation; the aim is to reset our taste buds to derive more pleasure from the flavours and natural sweetness of real, unprocessed foods.
Becoming aware and addressing the underlying issue is the trick. If this is difficult for you, consider reaching out to our Leap team to direct you to a registered nutritionist, who are able to help you be rid of your sugar cravings for good!