Find the underlying cause for your sugar cravings

Sugar and simple carbohydrates are some of the most addictive substances out there. Some research suggests sugar is as addictive as cocaine. Beating sugar cravings is one of the key health goals identified by women who I see in my clinic. We all know this stuff is not good for us but such is its power that we develop an uncontrollable desire for it. In the quest to beat sugar cravings willpower is not your best weapon. You’ll end up feeling like a failure and be even more susceptible to another crave-binge-regret cycle.


This post is the first in a three-part series where we dig into the underlying cause of sugar cravings and look at how you can beat them. (Read Part 2 and Part 3)


1.Lack of Sleep


Getting less than 6hrs of sleep per night interferes with hormones that control appetite. A decrease in the appetite suppressing hormone leptin means it takes more food for you to feel satisfied, while an increase in ghrelin stimulates your appetite. Net result your hormonal status is: “eat all the food, now!”.


Sleep deprivation makes you crave a particular type of food and guess what? It’s not lettuce or sprouts but rather the sweet, deep-fried kind. Pass me a donut!


Self-control or willpower requires mental energy, and each of us only has a certain amount of that in the tank each day. Not getting enough sleep means your mental energy is low and it is harder to make good decisions.


Solution: Make sleep a priority and work with a health care professional to address the underlying cause of your poor sleep. Why not start with the tips in my eBook:

Your Sleep Remedy – 7 Foundations to a Better Night’s Sleep.


2. Stress


Sustained stress depletes the adrenal glands of hormones cortisol, adrenaline, and noradrenaline. These are involved in the regulation of blood glucose. If your blood sugar is running low, your body will crave an instant energy hit to top it up.


Stress also depletes the body of magnesium, zinc and b vitamins – three essential nutrients required to maintain energy production and blood sugar balance.


Solution: Reduce stress in your as much as possible life and implement natural stress management techniques (getting out in nature, meditation, relaxation breathing, craft or hobbies). Reduce caffeine and alcohol as these are hard on your adrenals. Ensure a healthy diet with small amounts of protein at each meal. Supplementation with magnesium, zinc, and B vitamins may be beneficial. Herbs such as Oats, Passionflower, Withania, and Rhodiola can help the nervous system and nourish the adrenals.


3.Blood sugar imbalance


Eating foods with a high glycemic index (GI) not only spikes your blood sugar it also has a rebound effect of lowering it too much making you crave an instant (sugary) pick-up to balance it. You are on board a roller coaster of spiking and falling blood sugar. Keep doing this for long enough, and there are some pretty serious health consequences.


Solution: Make sure your diet is full of foods that release energy slowly (low GI). These will be unprocessed whole foods. Anything with fibre in it is also a good option as it slows down the release of glucose into your system and you won’t get those extreme highs and lows. Think whole fruit rather than a glass of juice. Make sure you have regular meals and avoid skipping meals. Some people find five smaller meals beneficial; others find three larger meals to be a better option. It is also worthwhile to get your blood glucose/insulin tested to ensure you don’t have an underlying health condition such as diabetes.


Coming up in Part 2 we’ll take a look at how alterations in your hormones can lead you into sweet temptations. Part 3 will look at the role of gut bacteria and nutrient deficiencies.



If you liked this you may also be interested in:

Why sleep needs to be part of your weight loss strategy

Need help with your health?

Norelle Hentschelis an experienced Naturopath with a clinic in Stones Corner, Brisbane who enjoys supporting her clients to reach their health goals.


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