Sugar cravings are real! And they hit us really hard as women. Most of the women I work with, struggle with sugar cravings. Some of the reasons are physiological and some are psychological/habitual.
Some of the physiological reasons for cravings include imbalanced blood sugar. This is when your blood sugar spikes up and down throughout the day, there's a tendency to crave sugar when blood sugar levels dip low. This is because your brain mostly runs on glucose and when your blood sugar levels dip too low, your brain function slows down and this is when symptoms of feeling foggy-brained show up. Your brain triggers the body to eat and generally something that will spike your blood sugar quite quickly. That's when you reach for the sugary treat and your brain quiets down. Only to rear, it's ugly head an hour so later. This happens for a few reasons, imbalanced meals, insufficient protein, fat, or fibre in your meal will case this, skipped meals, excess caffeine or reliance on caffeine to 'get you through the day', and refined carbohydrate-rich meals. Excess refined carbs will actually trigger further carbohydrate cravings.
Disruptions in your circadian rhythm will also create cravings. This is when you have poor sleep patterns and are not getting good quality sleep. Research has confirmed that when we have poor sleep, our cravings tend to increase and our satiety tends to decrease. These are all hormone-related. With poor sleep comes, increased ghrelin hormones (hunger hormones) and decreased leptin your satiety hormone. Which is supposed to reduce appetite and makes you feel full. So you tend to eat more 'junk' food when your sleep patterns are disturbed.
Your gut imbalances will also cause you to crave more sweets. Very simply, your microbiome is your second brain. Often your cravings are related to what your microbiome wants. When we lean heavily on refined carbs that feed the pathogenic bacteria in our gut, we tend to crave more of these foods. That's because our 'pathogenic bacteria' begins to increase and multiply as we feed it the food that makes it thrive. The more we feed it, the more it multiplies and eventually surpasses our beneficial bacteria. This causes us to crave refined carbs and forgo whole foods.
What can you do about this?
- make sure to have a balanced breakfast
- make sure you're well-hydrated
- make sure you're not relying on coffee to get you through the day
- have well-balanced snacks handy so you don't reach for sweet treats
- add a hormone balancing 'pick-me-up' drink like this hot cacao recipe I recently shared to satiate you and help you balance your blood sugar
Some of the psychological reasons for these cravings include boredom, habit, stress avoidance, procrastination, emotional stress. There are so many reasons why we crave sweets. For many of us, it's often a comfort food, and we associate relaxation, comfort, joy with a certain food or flavor. But it doesn't have to be our source of comfort. Most often we don't even recognize that we are succumbing to certain patterns or that we're comforting ourselves with food. That's where slowing down and bringing awareness to the situation is key. To better understand your reason the next time you reach for a sweet treat, ask yourself this question: what am I feeling? If you are not feeling hunger then it's your opportunity to dig deeper and find out why you are being drawn to a particular food.
Check out this video for a deeper explanation about this.
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