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July 8, 2023

Why you’re experiencing sugar cravings and some strategies to help overcome them

Filed under: Fitness — Tags: — admin @ 11:07 am

Sugar cravings can be overwhelming, irresistible, all consuming. Sometimes they appear out of nowhere, while for other people they hit at a certain time of day, every day.

If the cravings are intense, they can lead to overeating or bingeing on sugary foods, as a result of feeling out of control around the foods you’ve been so desperately craving.

Understanding the root of these cravings is the key to overcoming them, resisting the urge to throw all your hard work away and overindulge on foods that aren’t supporting your health goals.

Amal Wakim, co-founder of Equalution, says there are a few reasons why you could be experiencing sugar cravings.

“If your diet is not providing your body with the energy or nutrients it needs to support your daily function, it may well trigger sugar cravings to compensate, driving a physiological desire in you to consume high-sugar foods to make up for whatever it’s lacking,” she tells 9Honey Coach.

Young Woman Eating Unhealthy Food. Sweetness Indulging and Fattening Concept. Girl Biting Chocolate Cake, High-calorie Sweet Food, Increased Glucose Diabetes. Sweet food addiction.
If the cravings are intense, they can lead to overeating or bingeing on sugary foods. (iStock)

READ MORE: What 100 calories of fruit looks like

A lack of sleep and too much stress are other key contributing factors.

“When you’re tired, your body looks for ways to quickly boost its energy levels, often leading to cravings for high-sugar or high-fat foods. However, this sharp peak in energy is quickly followed by a crash, leaving you more tired than before,” she adds.

“Stress increases the production of hormones like cortisol and ghrelin, leading to heightened cravings for sugary foods. These intense cravings can be difficult to resist and are driven by both emotional and physical factors.”

So how can you manage your sugar cravings?

Here, Wakim shares a few useful strategies for overcoming your sugar cravings, over time and in the moment.

1. Avoid restricting certain foods – even sugary ones. Instead of banning all sugar from your diet, allow yourself to include small portions regularly, to avoid the “all-or-nothing” elevated mentality around these foods.

By including them regularly in small amounts, you’ll feel more in control when you do eat them, and you’ll be less likely to go overboard and binge on these foods. Everything is okay in moderation!

READ MORE: Amal didn’t eat birthday cake for three years: ‘I was fearful around food’

equalution health app Amal Wakim
Amal Wakim has learned not to restrict foods she loves. (Supplied/Equalution)

2. Take a walk when the cravings hit. If you’re struggling to overcome habitual cravings, take a short 15-minute walk outside when you feel the urge rising. Studies show this is enough to overcome the cravings and redirect your thoughts and energy, if the cravings aren’t caused by a genuine hunger for sugary foods, or a deficiency in energy or nutrients.

3. Opt for something sweet, minus the sugar. Foods like fruit, or even dark chocolate, can satisfy your sugar cravings without containing excess amounts of refined sugars, so give these a go instead of your usual milk chocolate bar and notice if the cravings subside.

4. Develop a toolkit of strategies to turn to when you’re experiencing difficult emotions, like sadness or loneliness, so you have alternatives to emotionally eating sugary foods. Things like journaling, meditation, talking to a friend or loved one, or taking a walk in nature can provide the same respite you’ve previously looked to sugary foods for.

READ MORE: Turning exercise into a game – is this the future of fitness?

Woman sleeping
Getting enough sleep is crucial. (iStock)

5. Get enough sleep. Prioritise high-quality sleep, for 7-9 hours every night without fail, and you’ll notice your cravings become more manageable, and you have more control around food choices and behaviours as a result.

6. Ensure you’re eating enough throughout the day, and including a balanced diet rich in all the key macronutrients, and satisfying your vitamin and mineral requirements too. Don’t neglect carbs, fats or proteins – they’re all incredibly important! Try including more regular, balanced snacks if it helps you meet your energy and nutrient requirements more easily.

7. Stay hydrated. Sometimes we perceive dehydration to be intense hunger or cravings, so by staying hydrated throughout the day you’ll be less susceptible to this mistake.

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