You might think you are addicted to sugar.
But over the many years that I’ve worked with clients, I’ve learned that cravings for sugar are caused by a multitude of factors including:
- consistently eating unbalanced meals which creates unbalanced blood sugar levels (so your body is “smart” and boosts cravings for carbohydrates and sugars as the quickest way to boost your blood sugar.)
- not eating regular meals throughout the day; skipping meals on purpose or because you’re busy; trying to save calories so you eat very little at breakfast and lunch so when you get home you feel ravenous and sugar sounds extra palatable.
- dieting, restricting calories and carbs means you may not be getting the proper energy and nutrients. Plus, you will often crave the foods that aren’t on your plan.
- white-knuckling it to completely avoid sugar because diet culture labels it as “bad.” So when it is available, you feel out of control around it. It’s “forbidden fruit.” You’re human and you want what you can’t have. Did you know that research shows a key difference between a dieter’s mind versus a non-dieters mind? A non-dieter will eat a cookie (or two) and move on. A dieter will obsess (physical and mental struggle) over whether to have the cookie or not and how many is too many. Ugh.
- you don’t allow yourself to have anything sweet without guilt or shame. Don’t forget that humans are born with a sweet taste bud.
- you lack sweetness in your life, so you crave sweet foods which only temporarily fulfills this need.
So what does the research say about sugar addiction?
Research from the European Journal of Nutrition states:
“We find little evidence to support sugar addiction in humans, and findings from the animal literature suggest that addiction-like behaviors, such as bingeing, occur only in the context of intermittent access to sugar. These behaviors likely arise from intermittent access to sweet tasting or highly palatable foods, not the neurochemical effects of sugar.” – “Sugar addiction: the state of the science.”
If you think you are addicted to sugar, consider these key nutrition skills:
7 tips to beat sugar “addiction”
- Learn to build balanced meals and snacks with quality protein, fat and carbohydrates. When you’re eating mostly carbs or sugary foods or drinks and you’re not eating enough quality protein or fats, you will experience blood sugar highs and lows (crashes). And when you crash, your body will crave carbs (sugars) to boost your blood sugar back into the normal range.
- Eat these balanced meals regularly, spaced throughout the day to avoid getting overly hungry (hangry).
- Ditch the diet culture BS and learn to listen and honor your individual hunger needs. They change every day depending on your activity level. Yes, you need to eat enough calories and quality carbohydrates. If you don’t, your biology will kick in, in the form of cravings, to get you to eat more.
- Learn to distinguish between physical and emotional hunger. And if your hunger isn’t physical, pause and consider what you are really needing right now?
Read more: 3 Reasons why you can’t stop stress and emotional eating (and the solution)
- When you choose to eat something sweet, eat real sugar, not artificial sugars. If a package says it’s sugar-free, be wary as this often means they’ve replaced sugar with a fake sugar.
- When you eat the cookie(s) or ice cream or other sweet, slow down and savor it. When you feel guilty, you may tend to eat these foods quickly, “to get rid of the evidence.”
- Feed your sweet taste bud. Yes, really. Are there sweet foods that you enjoy that are higher quality? I love fresh berries, apples and dark chocolate. Create a list of these foods and have them readily available.
So what did you learn about your relationship to food and your current nutrition skills? Where could you use support?
If you’ve always thought you are addicted to sugar, but now see that your cravings may be caused by a lack of critical nutrition skills, practice these seven tips.
And as always, if you could use support, reach out. I’d love to help.