Although it may seem sweet, sugar can be anything but. It appears to be fine in moderation, but giving in to your sugar cravings too much can contribute to weight gain, Type 2 diabetes, and the development of cavities.
The sweetener has absolutely no nutritional value and yet the average American consumes about 160 pounds of sugar each year! Some researchers speculate that this may be due to potentially addictive properties. One study out of Princeton University found that cutting out sugar cold turkey can lead to both withdrawals and intense cravings.
If you have sugar cravings regularly, you’re certainly not alone. Sugar cravings are one of the biggest weight loss and health challenges that we run into; however, taking the steps to stop sugar cravings can improve your health and reduce your risk of chronic disease and can lead to weight loss, especially if you tend to overdo it on the sweet stuff now.
The Mechanism of Sugar Cravings
Unlike hunger, which is physical, cravings often have an emotional or psychological cause. When you’re hungry, you’re usually satisfied after a wholesome meal. When you have a craving, you may eat several cookies, but still yearn for more. Although researchers are still trying to figure out exactly why people have sugar cravings, they believe that the brain neurotransmitter serotonin, which is responsible for your well-being and happiness, plays a role. Low serotonin levels can cause unhappiness and depressed feelings, which leads the brain to crave carbohydrates, like sugar. When you eat sugar, it temporarily increases serotonin, which then improves your mood.
Although there is nothing wrong with giving into a craving once in a while, overdoing it can negatively affect your health and cause weight gain.
Preventing the Craving
The first method of attack is to prevent sugar cravings from happening in the first place. Although you may not be able to stop the cravings completely, there are things you can do to help curb them – or make them happen less frequently.
Eat three meals a day and have a couple snacks between meals, even if you don’t feel hungry. This helps keeps your blood sugar levels steady, which can diminish the urge for cravings. Include complex carbohydrates, lean protein and healthy fat at each meal and snack. This keeps you satisfied until your next meal. Try an apple with 2 teaspoons of almond butter or cottage cheese with a handful of fresh berries.
You may also want to consider taking a supplement, like Crave-Away, that can help reduce sugar cravings, as well as cravings for other carbohydrates and alcohol. Crave-Away also contains a combination of amino acids and vitamins (vitamin C, vitamin B3, vitamin B5, and vitamin B6)that work together to boost weight loss.*
When the Sugar Cravings Hit
It’s inevitable that a sugar craving will hit you once in a while. Cravings often arise out of boredom, stress or loneliness rather than real hunger though, so when that happens, try to keep your mind busy by doing other things.
Distract yourself for 15 to 20 minutes by reading a book or going for a short walk. In addition to providing a distraction, exercise has the same serotonin-boosting effect on your brain that sugar has. You can also make a phone call to a friend or start organizing a drawer or closet.
Giving In to the Craving
It’s nearly impossible to completely avoid or stop every single carbohydrate craving. Hey, you’re human; and despite your best efforts to prevent cravings, sometimes they hit you out of the blue. Depriving yourself too much can actually lead to binging on the foods you’re trying to avoid.
Every once in a while, allow yourself to have whatever it is that you’re craving, but be mindful of what you’re eating and don’t overdo it.
DISCLAIMER * These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.