Why we get sugar cravings
Sugar cravings can be incredibly frustrating and make you feel hopeless. I wanted to take some time to teach you how sugar cravings aren’t a willpower problem, but more of a biochemical problem. What I mean by that is when your body is imbalanced in certain areas whether that be certain hunger hormones, blood sugar, or your digestive system, you might crave sugar in a big way. Instead of blaming yourself and thinking you aren’t strong enough to resist the sugar, why don’t we instead flip the focus onto why those sugar cravings are actually happening.
Blood Sugar Swings + Sugar Cravings
Blood sugar swings are when your blood sugar spikes up, then the body tries to quickly correct with a hormone surge, overcorrects, then causes your blood sugar to drop down too low. When you get this crash, you might feel: anxious all of a sudden, sweaty, shaky, and more than anything, want something to eat and NOW. You don’t have to have any form of diabetes to be experiencing blood sugar swings.
One of the primary reasons this happens is; you have been consuming foods that are quickly turning into sugar in your blood. Did you know that all carbohydrates turn into sugar in the blood? It’s true. For every 4 grams of carbohydrate, we get the equivalent of about 1 teaspoon of sugar in the blood. Most of us haven’t always been eating real food carbohydrates like some sweet potato or fruit, but instead been eating processed carbohydrates and desserts like cereal, chips, pretzels, candy, cookies and other desserts. These types of food have a lot of carbohydrate that really makes our blood sugar go up and quick. Remember, that fast swing up usually means a quick drop down.
Let me give you an example, you start your day swinging through the coffee lane. You order a medium sized sweetened coffee drink and decide on a muffin they have in their baking case. Girlfriend, you are about to experience a blood sugar crash — just give it an hour or 2. An average medium sugar sweetened coffee beverage has 16-18 teaspoons (teaspoons!) of sugar in it. Come on now, would you scoop 16 teaspoons of sugar out of the sugar jar and dump it in your class of water? Or even some black coffee you made at home? Of course not.
Add the muffin with it and you’ve got another 13 teaspoons of sugar. Let’s just call it even and say that’s a 30 teaspoons of sugar breakfast.
Ok, but I see you, you’re sitting there thinking that you don’t go through the coffee lane in the morning, instead you make yourself a breakfast at home. Maybe you pour yourself a 7-grain cereal, top it with some skim milk and pour yourself some 100% juice. Even though that might not contain any high fructose corn syrup or refined white sugar, don’t be deceived: you are still eating a high sugar breakfast. 2 cups of a traditional “high fiber” cereal breaks down to anywhere from 12-25 teaspoons. Yes, you read that right. And don’t tell me you can just stop at ¾ cup of cereal, like most serving sizes. No way is that filling you up. Let’s say you add ½ cup of skim milk and 1 cup of juice on the side. That will breakdown to another 8 teaspoons of sugar. So, your seemingly “healthy” breakfast, might actually be breaking down to 20-45 teaspoons of sugar!
Why does all that discussion matter? Because high sugar eating makes you crave more sugar, hijacks your hunger hormones and can imbalance your good gut bacteria, as we will learn.
Now your brain is asking, “what am I supposed to do about this high sugar eating and the blood sugar swings?” I’ll be telling you all about that tomorrow!
Hunger Hormones + Sugar Cravings
Another reason we are craving sugar is our hunger hormones have gotten all messed up. When our hunger hormones are working effectively, we eat quality food and then feel full and satisfied.
It tends to be a cruel cycle. We crave sugar, we eat sugar, we want more sugar, and this continuous cycle creates a resistance in our cells. Think of your cells being locked or
turning off their ears. When they can’t hear the message that you are full, they keep sending the message that you need to keep eating.
When you start to get the sugar out of your system, the cells can start to communicate effectively again. Tomorrow I’ll let you in on some simple secrets to start feeling satisfied after you eat.
Digestive System + Sugar Cravings
Here’s an interesting one: if your digestion isn’t optimal, you can have sugar cravings. Stick with me here, this might sound strange. Basically, if you don’t have enough good bacteria, or more bad bacteria or yeasts in your digestive system, you could crave sugar.
When you make beer, what do you feed the yeast? Sugar.
In that same vein, when our digestive system is overburdened with bad bacteria or yeast, we might crave sugar.
Why might you have imbalanced gut bacteria? Lots of reasons!! Rounds of antibiotics, antifungals, even acid blocking medications can disrupt the gut flora. Eating a lot of sugar and processed food definitely imbalances the digestive system. Our healthy bacteria love real food, whereas a lot of processed foods and sugar allow bad bacteria and yeast to overpopulate. Do you have high levels of stress in your life? We know that stress can disrupt our gut functions.
All in all, let’s move you towards having a healthy digestive system. That will help you just naturally so “no” to all the sugar! Know one big step towards a healthier digestive system? Eating real food! And staying away from processed foods and sugars.
In closing . . .
When you start to get your body balanced out, those strong sugar cravings start to dissipate. You won’t have to rely on forcing yourself to stay away from the sugar. You just won’t be naturally drawn to it! How freeing!