Do you find yourself hanging for your next sugar hit? You go about your day happy and vibrant until you start to feel sluggish and find yourself reaching for that chocolate muffin??? Sound familiar? I think we can all relate to this from time to time. For some people, it’s the occasional craving, but for some it can be a constant battle resulting in mood fluctuations, digestive problems and lethargy… Just to name a few. Sugar cravings are a real metabolic process that happens to your body. Read on to learn how to beat sugar cravings.
What is a Sugar Craving?
A sugar craving is a dramatic fall in your blood sugar levels subsequently affecting the part of the brain controlling impulse. This leads to a loss of self control following through with the intake of unhealthy, high-calorie foods (generally with next to no nutritional content)
It’s really important to understand the ways sugar affects your body. The more I educate my clients about the body’s response to sugar on a cellular and metabolic level, they are able to make proactive decisions to nourish their bodies. Having the knowledge gives you the power. Having that power means you can make the right nutrition decisions that will give you the best outcomes.
Let’s talk chemistry for a sec…
When you eat sugar, neurons in the primary taste cortex sends signals to the brain to release Dopamine, the neurotransmitter responsible for reward and pleasure. So eating sugar essentially makes you feel rewarded and pleased in that moment.
This food reward system is directly associated with your food intake and eating behaviour control… See the connection here? There is a direct link to what you consume and how you feel.
Furthermore, sugar is not designed to keep you feeling full. Sugar is a simple carbohydrate. Simple carbohydrates are designed for quick fuel and serve a purpose when your energy output utilises these in an efficient manner (eg. exercise). As soon as the muscle energy stores are full, the excess sugar is converted to fat & stored around our waistline!
Why Sugar Cravings Are Hard To Beat
How do you think majority of the large food manufacturers are making the big bucks? They are taking full advantage of sugar cravings. Here’s three reasons why sugar cravings can be hard to overcome:
- Addiction – You want it, crave it and with a complex neurological response taking place, it’s a tough habit to kick!
- Dopamine – As I mentioned earlier, when you eat sugar dopamine is released and you get a sense of pleasure. Why do you think it’s the first thing we reach for when we are feeling upset/tired or to “reward” ourselves?
With the good feeling you get after having the stuff, no wonder you want more (this is a temporary feeling and often you will crash and burn after….A vicious cycle indeed)
- Satiety – the lack there of contributes to overeating and undernourishment. You crave it, you eat it and you’re still not satisfied. But you feel good from eating it, so you reach for more….and before you know it, you’ve eaten the whole packet of biscuits (we’ve all been there!)
As you can see, there are many complex reactions relating to sugar in your body. Cravings are a normal part of life, however, ensuring you eat a nutritionally balanced diet can be the game changer in how you get the most of your day & your awareness + action when you DO experience those cravings.
Beat Sugar Cravings For Good
Here are 5 things you can do when you feel the sugar cravings start that don’t result in eating sugar
- Aim for a balance in Macronutrients (carbs + fats + proteins) in every meal
- Drink a glass of water or herbal tea
- Go for a walk, do a stretch on the mat, or do some exercise
- Reach for a handful of berries/ apple or a seasonal fruit
- Record any emotions surrounding the sugar craving (eg. Lack of sleep, stress)
It’s perfectly okay to treat yo’self from time to time – after all, Balance is key! Finding ways to manage sugar cravings can help you reduce them over time, as well as contribute to overall wellness. When you nourish your body with wholesome foods and physical activity 90% of the time, what’s 10% in the form of a delicious brownie? That’s called Living 😉
At Rebalance Pilates & Yoga we regularly launch challenges and programs that incorporate specialised nutrition programs. We are just about to launch our newest 6 Week Nourish and Flourish Nutrition Program. If you’d like to learn more or find out when the next dates are, please contact us to speak to one of our studio managers.
Written by Kirby Cumming – Nutritionist and Manager, Rocklea Studio – Rebalance Pilates and Yoga, Advanced Diploma of Nutritional Medicine