5 Reasons You May Be Struggling with Sugar & Carb Cravings

JANUARY 10, 2024

Hi! I'm Lauren.

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Ever find yourself irresistibly drawn to that sugary morning latte or pastry, or the evening scoop of ice cream or box of cookies?

You're not alone.

Sugar and carb cravings are a very common battle, often standing between us and our health goals.

Many of us have faced the cycle of craving, indulging, and then berating ourselves for a lack of discipline.

It’s important to know, however, that succumbing to sugar and carb cravings isn't a failure in willpower; it's often a cycle driven by your body's own chemistry.

Eating sugar can create a feedback loop that perpetuates these cravings, making it challenging to break free. These cravings are a sign from your body, a signal that there's an imbalance needing attention, not a reflection of your strength or discipline.

Understanding why these cravings occur is the first step in managing them effectively. In this post, we'll dive into five key reasons behind sugar and carb cravings so you can address the root causes and break free for good.

Here are the 5 major reasons behind the struggle with sugar & carb cravings.

Being dehydrated is terrible for the body as a whole, yet a large portion of people today are walking around chronically dehydrated. Many people confuse their thirst cues for hunger cues and end up overeating when what their body is really asking for is proper hydration (sufficient water & minerals — electrolytes).

Simply put, “gut dysbiosis” means there is an imbalance of microorganisms in the intestines. Bad bacteria and yeast such as candida live and thrive on sugar. So when there is an abundance of these microbes in the body, intense sugar cravings are often the result.

Hormones such as leptin, ghrelin, insulin, and cortisol play a crucial role in regulating appetite and cravings for certain types of food. The functioning of these hormones is often disrupted by the poor habits of our modern lifestyle (poor diet, high stress, sleep deprivation, etc.) and can intensify cravings for processed foods. Leptin, for example, is a hormone primarily produced by fat cells. One of its primary jobs is to send signals to the brain that we are full and ready to stop eating. In contrast, ghrelin is a hormone produced primarily by endocrine cells in the stomach and small intestine that signals to the brain that we are hungry. When we eat too much sugar and food lacking nutrients, it can cause a decrease in leptin, leading to an increase in appetite and sugar cravings. Eating sugar-dense foods, of course, also causes spikes and dips in blood sugar levels which can make carb and sugar cravings even more intense and eventually lead to insulin resistance and ultimately type 2 diabetes. By understanding the role of hormones in regulating sugar cravings, we can overcome cravings, make better food choices, control appetite and keep our metabolism healthy and strong.

Not prioritizing sleep is one of the most common and worst ways we sabotage our health & body goals for a lot of different reasons but in this context, it’s important to know that sleep is a regulator of the hormones that control what we eat, how much we eat, and what our body does with the food we give it. On top of that, studies have shown that being under-slept also changes the way the brain’s pleasure centers respond to the sight or thought of addictive sugary foods. So when we don’t sleep well, our bodies are almost hardwired to crave unhealthy, sugary foods.

Unfortunately, in today’s world many of us have been conditioned to deal with stress and negative emotions with food — specifically processed carbs & sugar. This is a very dangerous habit and slippery slope. Here’s why: when you eat sugar, it causes the release of a chemical called dopamine that activates the reward center of the brain in much the same way as other addictive drugs, like cocaine, for example. The brain remembers that sugar gives us a kick. So when you’re feeling sad, tired, lonely, stressed or the likes, your brain says, “go get some sugar”. So you do. You eat it, your body and brain react, and you feel better temporarily… until blood sugar levels drop. This lower blood sugar level stimulates appetite and cravings, and the cycle continues.

Remember that cravings are chemical. They're not fixed or a reflection of who you are.

The next time the urge to eat something sugary & processed hits you, take a beat, breathe, and try to think: why am I craving this?

Am I truly hungry, or is it something else?

Listen to your body and make the healthiest choice for yourself in that moment.

Then with this new understanding, make it a top priority to work on optimizing your diet and lifestyle so that sugar and cravings become a thing of the past.

For tips on conquering your cravings and ditching sugar, check on the article titled “Holistic Ways to Detox Sugar

- Lauren

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