They can strike at any time of day, and occasionally even as you try to drift into blissful repose. Sugar cravings are the bane of any health plan, and can quickly undermine even the most dedicated of dieters. Understanding the craving beast, though, is the key to triumphing over the voice that tells you you need more sugar.
What Causes Sugar Cravings?
Researchers still don't fully understand cravings, and sugar cravings are no exception. It's likely that several factors conspire to yield sugar cravings, and knowing these risk factors can help you more effectively confront your own cravings. Craving a sweet snack? Check out the following common motivations:
- Unbalanced blood sugar. When you're hungry, it's common for your blood sugar to drop. If you give into cravings by eating a sweet snack, though, you create a vicious cycle of spiking and dropping blood sugar that causes you to perpetually crave sweet snacks.
- You're missing something in your diet. Remember that carbohydrates are a form of sugar, as are the naturally occurring chemicals in fruit. It could be that you need some quick energy in the form of healthy carbs, or that you're deficient in fruit.
- You're deficient in protein. Some people crave sugar when they need more protein, since the two substances are chemically similar.
- You're feeling depressed. Sugar offers a quick pick-me-up. Of course, that temporary boost is often followed by a miserable crash, so don't use sugar as a mood regulation strategy.
When to Indulge
There's no denying the fact that refined sugars are bad for you, and even a diet excessively rich in carbs can harm you. But depriving yourself of the foods you crave is an excellent recipe for dietary failure. Instead, your long-term success depends on your ability to balance your diet over time. There's nothing wrong with eating a cookie here or a pastry there. The key is to be able to stop. Limit yourself to a single sweet snack, or take just a bite of birthday cake rather than eating the whole thing. This enables you to appreciate sweets more while still sticking to your health goals.
Tips for Resistance
Resisting your sugar cravings doesn't mean walking through life in utter misery. A craving, instead, is a distinct physical sensation that lasts only a few minutes. That means if you can outlast your craving, you'll be feeling better in no time. Need some help to manage sudden sugar cravings? Try one of the following tips:
- Drink a glass of water. Dehydration can feel a lot like hunger, and some research suggests that drinking cold water can combat cravings.
- Indulge in a healthy source of sugar, such as citrus fruit.
- Exercise for five to 10 minutes. Not only does exercise bust cravings; it also enables you to re-focus your attention on your health goals.
Distract yourself with another favorite indulgence. Replace sugar with your favorite daytime drama or a texting session with your best friend. You'll feel better, but won't have to worry about working off your indulgence on the treadmill.