One of my Clients recently asked me ‘how can I stop my sugar cravings’. After thinking about it, I came up with several reasons for sugar cravings, some are more obvious than others but each one may plat their own parts, here I’m going to share the most common reasons for sugar cravings and ways in which you can work towards ceasing those cravings once and for all.
Number one – Vitamin and Mineral Deficiencies
You may be depleted in certain vitamins and minerals which is making you crave sugar, our bodies need certain vitamins and minerals to be able to metabolise glucose and produce insulin. Magnesium deficiency can often be a reason for sugar cravings, women especially use higher amounts of magnesium during their monthly cycle, which is often why chocolate cravings can happen during menstruation (cocoa is high in magnesium ladies – milk chocolate itself is high in sugar, damn you Cadbury!!).
Other trace minerals that could be deficient are Zinc and Chromium, this is why I always recommend my clients take a good quality multivitamin supplement along with a healthy diet of good quality lean meats, nuts and seeds and also a range of fruit and vegetables. Alcohol, caffeine, soda drinks and sugar can affect your body’s ability to absorb certain vitamins and minerals, so it’s best to cut down or eliminate these for a period of time to see if it helps.
Number Two – Candida Overgrowth
This is tied in with hormones and nutritional deficiencies. When we crave sugar (or breads, biscuits, fruit and dairy) it can sometimes mean that there is an issue going on within our bodies biochemistry. Our gut is where the absorption of vitamins and minerals take place, however if our gut flora is out of balance then we have the intestinal problems taking place. Stress can play a big role in this too.
Candida (yeast) is within our gut and feeds on sugar, the more sugar you have the more candida grows, this could lead to an overgrowth of candida putting your gut flora out of balance. Over time this will lead to nutritional deficiencies and then to hormonal imbalances. Other signs that it could be candida overgrowth, to name a few are:
Developing intolerances and allergies
Bloated belly and gas
Constant low energy
Regular Bouts of Thrush
White furry tongue
If candida is an issue then it’s time to address the gut, start by taking a good quality prebiotic and probiotic. Probiotics are the friendly bacteria within the gut, prebiotics help to feed the friendly bacteria. Be careful with dairy, yoghurt could be beneficial, however milk casein can feed the candida. Certain starchy foods such as potatoes and rice may need to be reduced for a period of time. Choosing lower GI fruits may be helpful too such as lemons, limes, and berries.
Number Three – Sleep Deprivation or Exhaustion
Sleep deprivation can affect us all differently, having children will especially affect our sleep, however over time sleep deprivation can have a negative impact on our health. When we are tired, we tend to go for easy options when it comes to feeding our bodies. Rather than make a healthy omelette we might choose a slice of toast or cereal. We might believe that we need the boost to give us the energy for that day, caffeine may also come into the equation.
If you have young children or babies, lack of sleep is inevitable (unless you’re really lucky – if so, be thankful, and I hate you!! (just kidding haha). It’s going to happen, we lose sleep from time to time, we have to accept that it’s just a phase in time, we can do other things like take a nap in the day if need be, take some down time for yourself – a relaxing bath or arrange to have someone to have your children for a night so you can catch up on your sleep.
If exhaustion has set in however, you might need to take an even bigger step back, ask for help if need be, if it’s because you’re a mum and under pressure with work, house, children, cooking, looking after your own health (I’m exhausted just reading this!!), STOP – ask for some support. If you have the funds get someone to do your cleaning or ironing. Slow down, do some breathing work and get some rest. Trust me, you’re no good to anyone when Exhaustion puts you on your back – I’ve been there!
Number Four – Psychological Need
Without delving too much into psychology, often when we feel we need something, sugar being one, it may be down to a psychological reason. At some point in your life, maybe childhood, you may have been rewarded when you were good, this may have been with some sweets for example. As a child that may have given you the warm and fuzzies when that happened, and as an adult, there may be times when you’re not feeling so good and want to re-create those feelings, without realising it, you have attached sweets and sugar to feeling good – hence the craving for sugar.
Then we could also have it on the opposite scale, you might have been doing really great on a diet plan but something has triggered a feeling of not being good enough, so you sabotage all of your hard work.
Let me tell you, if you’re still with me and you’ve got this far YOU ARE MORE THAN ENOUGH! If you believe it’s self sabotage then this could be linked to a time you’ve felt bad about yourself, perhaps someone else has made you feel bad and you’ve used food, sugar mainly, as a comfort.
Next time you get that sugar craving, give yourself some time before giving in, ask yourself what it is you really want.
Could it be that you’re bored – if so do something that makes you feel good.
Could it be that you need some love - phone a family member, hug your partner or kids, get together with your friends.
Could it be down to tiredness – If so get some rest, do some yoga or go for a walk in the fresh air.
Treat the cause, not the problem:
It could be a mixture of all of the above why you are craving sugar, but focusing on a healthy outlook on life such as eating healthy, exercising regularly, taking time for rest, getting sleep, spending time with loved ones can all help you to eliminate those cravings.
Remember a craving is just that - a craving, it will pass - do something else to take your mind from it, and if you do give in - DON'T beat yourself up, this may make you feel worse and the viscous cycle returns.