Sugar Cravings: Every day it gives us new lessons and opportunities to fight our shortcomings. And we try to get better every day. We lose somewhere – and we are forced to give up a couple of steps back. We are winning somewhere – and with victorious joy we make a leap forward. But many of us, even having won hundreds of battles in this arena of life, still cannot imagine how to overcome our sugar cravings.
“The greatest victory is the victory over oneself.”
— Mark Tullius Cicero —
This article is designed to help you achieve one of the most difficult victories in our life.
And we’ll start with motivation.
Overuse of sweets and harm to health
Imagine: you are absolutely indifferent to pastries, cakes and others like them. On your table, fruits are regular guests; you don’t really want too much sweet – you can rarely eat dates, or homemade dried fruit bars. You are happy with your weight, active lifestyle, diet and sleep patterns.
Well, have you felt the power to change your lifestyle?
Unfortunately, positive motivation tends to work worse than negative motivation. Therefore, we will use a proven method – we will tell you in detail about the harmfulness of this habit.
Modern people are tired of the good done to them when they receive unsolicited advice. But for practical advice on how to remove cravings for sweets, many of us will be very grateful. After all, the harm of excessive consumption of sweets has surfaced, and information about this is growing.
Here are some important facts about the dangers of sweets for your body.
Fact 1. Sugar suppresses the immune system
And where there is weak immunity, there is a risk of not only infectious diseases, but also serious chronic ones. It is chronic diseases that make up the overwhelming majority (80% of all diseases).
Numerous scientific studies have demonstrated the negative effect of sweets on immunity. Here is one of them. In 2018, the scientific journal Cell published the work of scientists, in which they state that a Western diet rich in fast carbohydrates induces “altered and potentially abnormal immune responses.” It is fraught with chronic systemic inflammation, which leads to many diseases.
Also, sugary foods cause imbalance in the gut microbiome. The environment that forms in the intestines after our “sweet feast” causes the growth of pathogenic microflora, especially fungi.
Not only is the imbalance in the gut microflora damaging to the entire body – the gut is known to be an important organ of the immune system – but the excess fungus in the gut also affects our unfortunate sugar cravings. This is due to the fact that we may want sweets only in order to feed an overgrown pathogen.
Fact 2. Sugar is addictive akin to narcotic
According to the nutritionist, doctor of medical sciences of the Russian Academy of Natural Sciences Alexei Kovalkov, “sugar is the most deadly drug.” The narcotic effect of this substance has been confirmed by many experiments.
For example, in 2018, the British Journal of Sports Medicine published a study , in which the effect of sugar on the body was compared with drugs.
According to scientists, sugar addiction is nothing more than “addiction to naturally occurring endogenous opioids, which are released when sugar is consumed.” Scientific evidence from the point of view of the neurochemistry of the brain and behavior shows significant parallels and overlaps between drug and sugar use, the American researchers conclude.
Fact 3. Excess sweets harm physical fitness
In our body, glucose – a substance that comes with sweet foods and is released during the breakdown of carbohydrates during digestion – is either used for mental and physical activity, or is stored in adipose tissue.
It is believed that 90% of adipose tissue is formed from carbohydrates that are not consumed for the needs of the body. Therefore, overweight is often a side effect of unavoidable cravings for sweets.
Fact 4: Sugar Leads to Calcium Loss
This is because when sugar enters the body, it tends to change the ratio of phosphorus and calcium. As a result of calcium deficiency, the condition of nails, hair and teeth worsens, chronic fatigue appears, then serious diseases, primarily associated with bone tissue, can develop.
Fact 5. Absorbing sweets worsens skin condition
It is scientifically proven that the effects of sugars have a negative effect on the beauty and youthfulness of the skin.
Glucose and fructose bind amino acids present in collagen and elastin, – compounds that help the skin to be strong and elastic. As a result, advanced glycation end products, or AGEs, are formed. AGEs are believed to accelerate the aging process and can cause serious complications of disease.
Fact 6. Dependence on sweets leads to depression
And scientific work confirms this. For example, a 2004 study published in the journal Br J Psychiatry.
On the one hand, sugar leads to the production of happiness hormones – serotonin and endorphin – albeit with a short-term effect, because due to biochemical patterns (sugar is quickly utilized in the body), pretty soon your hand will reach for a new dose. On the other hand, in the long run, being on the sweet tooth appears to be detrimental to mental health.
In another study rats were fed with honey or sucrose for 52 weeks. As a result, the “sucrose” group showed a level of anxiety significantly higher than the “honey” one.
Fact 7. With the abuse of sweets, the risk of developing diabetes and oncology increases
A carbohydrate diet depletes the pancreas. This organ produces the hormone insulin, with the help of which glucose is absorbed by the cells of the body. As a result of constant stimulation, the pancreas can malfunction, leading to the development of diabetes.
Research Published in the Online Journal Science Signaling6 , provided evidence that depriving cancer cells of sugar induces a reaction that leads to their death. This research builds on earlier work indicating that cancer cells that multiply rapidly need higher sugar levels than normal cells.
Of course, this is not a complete list of all undesirable effects from uncontrolled eating of sweets. But if you take this information seriously, and also if you have long wanted to overcome this addiction, you will have the motivation for further action.
Symptoms of sweet addiction
Like any addiction, sugar addiction has its own symptoms. You may not find all 5 signs in yourself, but even the presence of several of them should be a wake-up call for you.
So, the manifestations of sugar addiction:
- You eat sweets even when you’re not hungry.
- You cannot stop, you are ready to eat more sweets than planned.
- Eating sweets calms you down.
- You just want simple carbohydrates.
- You realize that sugar addiction is “evil”, but you cannot do anything about it.
The good news is that everyone can find the strength to overcome their sugar cravings. But for this you have to work hard.
“There is nothing that cannot be achieved with intense effort.”
— Yoga-Vasishtha —
Sweet cravings: reasons
All the reasons for this “sweet” story can be divided into two groups: physiological and psychological.
Physiological reasons for sugar cravings.
- Lack of glucose for the brain, which can be caused, for example, by low blood pressure, concussion, and other unhealthy conditions.
- Malfunction of the thyroid gland. This organ is also responsible for metabolism, is involved in carbohydrate metabolism. Therefore, disorders in the thyroid gland can often cause cravings for sweets and starchy foods .
- It is important first of all to exclude these two reasons, especially if you have such manifestations as constant hunger, chronic fatigue, dizziness, etc. For this you need to consult a competent doctor.
- Insulin resistance, or cell immunity to insulin. It looks like this: when the blood sugar level rises, insulin is produced, but it cannot fulfill its role to a sufficient extent – the complete absorption of glucose does not occur.
- As a result, there is a lot of sugar in the blood, but the body’s need for glucose cannot be met, even despite the efforts of the pancreas, which will produce new doses of insulin in an attempt to provide cells with energy. At this time, we can experience a strong appetite, and often – just for fast carbohydrates.
- Hormonal changes in women. In each month there is a period when the female body prepares for conception, regardless of the desires and plans of the mistress; this is how nature works. To this end, the body raises its energy requirements to 500 calories per day.
- Since it is easier and faster to close them with simple carbohydrates, sugar cravings may occur. Causes in women can also lie in sex hormones involved in the monthly menstrual cycle. Progesterone and estrogen affect blood glucose levels and are also linked to the digestive hormones responsible for feeling full.
- An illiterate or chaotic diet. If your menu lacks proteins, complex carbohydrates and fiber; if you limit yourself beyond measure, then break loose and overeat, if you do not drink enough water … This one strategic flaw can greatly affect your eating habits.
- Deficiency of chromium and B vitamins – essential nutrients for the body. Below we will discuss the lack of chromium in more detail.
Psychosomatics of sweet cravings
“Addiction starts with pain and ends with pain. Whatever you are addicted to, whoever you are attached to – a person, a drink, a food, legal or illegal drugs – you will use it as a cover for the pain. “
— Eckhart Tolle —
When we mention psychosomatics, we are talking about the influence of our soul on our body (“psycho” – “soul”, “soma” – “body”). If we argue from the point of view of the concept that our body is an instrument for the development of the soul, then any malfunction in it is nothing more than an opportunity for growth.
Based on this position, no matter what physiological reason looms in the foreground, it will always be vital to look towards psychosomatics.
The following psychological reasons for cravings for sweets can be distinguished.
- Stress and emotional stress. The state of constant stress is no longer surprising to anyone, especially city dwellers. The body produces the hormone cortisol in any stressful situation – it doesn’t matter if you are faced with a real danger, for example, with a bear in the forest, or worried about work that has not been completed on time.
- Excess cortisol is bad for the body, so it tries to address this issue. According to the idea of nature, the body should physically release this tension – “fight or run away”, but since we rarely meet “bears” and lead a sedentary lifestyle, this release does not occur. Therefore, the body can ask for sweets, since it reduces the level of this hormone in the blood.
- Boredom, lack of communication, emptiness, joyless life. When life seems insipid, in delicious food we can see, albeit a short-term, but still relief. However, it is difficult to explain to the mind that gastronomic sources of pleasure cannot make life “tasty” and “lively”. Therefore, in such a situation, we, as usual, follow the lead of our mind.
- An excess of austerities (self-restraints). These austerities do not have to be food-related. Perhaps you practice early lifting, but it is very difficult for you for one reason or another. Or “went” to conditional fasting, which was very difficult psychologically. Such a “winged swing” will simply be a natural consequence – the balance must be restored at any cost.
- Inappropriate performance of their duties. Have you heard the saying: “Do what you must, and come what may”? In Eastern philosophy, the essence of this expression is the concept of svadharma and the humble acceptance of the fruits of one’s actions. Each creature has a number of tasks for a specific life. We must perform regularly all our tasks and received / chosen roles.
Almost every one of us is a son, and a brother, and a husband, and a father, and a colleague, and a subordinate, and a student, and so on. Life always offers us circumstances for the best path of our growth, and if we try to ignore them, we also leave our responsibilities for this incarnation. Mind, consciousness, we may not notice this, but our soul, our conscience is aware of all our imperfections. To drown out their voice, we can seek comfort in doping.
Chrome from cravings to sweet
Chromium is a vital trace mineral. It participates in lipid metabolism, and also helps the body’s cells to absorb glucose by increasing the permeability of their membranes, enhances the functions of the hormone insulin.
Thus, with a deficiency of chromium, the absorption of glucose may deteriorate, and hence its lack may appear, which translates into a strong craving for sweets. What trace element is missing in the body, it is better not to guess, but to find out with the help of laboratory tests.
The daily norm of chromium for adults is from 50 to 200 mcg. If this nutrient is deficient, it is recommended to enrich your diet with whole grains, broccoli, green beans, and beets. Brewer’s yeast is believed to be a source of chromium.
But, unfortunately, due to the very low absorption (absorption) of it in the gastrointestinal tract – up to 5% of the total amount – it is unlikely that the lack of chromium will be replenished with products. Therefore, chromium supplements in the form of picolinate will be relevant here. Since an excess of chromium is toxic to the body, it is categorically not recommended to use this supplement without laboratory tests, be sure to consult a specialist!
Of course, it’s great if for you the answer to the question: “How to reduce cravings for sweets?” will be an elementary replenishment of nutritional deficiencies. But while you are figuring out your chromium level, we recommend that you start taking action in other available directions.
Why is it difficult to give up sweets?
Throughout the article, we tried to name the most common reasons for addiction to sweets. Now you know that sugar is a kind of drug, not only at the physiological level, but also at the psychological one. How many people do you know who can easily give up drug addiction? This time .
Two – we do not always understand how much this craving can harm us, which means that we do not really try to deal with it.
And three – to overcome the craving for sweets, and no matter what caused it, you need to work hard. But such work is not very fashionable in our times. Now it is fashionable to live in pleasure, and if it is not enough, then it is proposed to work hard to find another. The age of indulgence leads to natural unpleasant side effects. But with our consistent efforts, each of us can change a lot in our life. Ready?
How to overcome your sugar cravings
Choose what you can do today and do it. Yes, most of you will need patience and perseverance in completing some of the points. But among them there are those that can be implemented quite quickly. Start with the easiest options for you, don’t force things.
You should have enough protein and complex carbohydrates in your diet. Pay attention to legumes and whole grains. It is also necessary to eat fresh fruits and vegetables every day, it is advisable to eat 300-500 g of vegetables and fruits combined per day.
Try to avoid semi-finished and ready-made foods, because they usually contain added sugar, as well as many other harmful synthetic components. Minimize your intake of processed foods by buying whole foods and cooking yourself. It is also very important to fill up. If you do not do this, but regularly restrict your body, then breakdowns for delicious food will not keep you waiting long. Do not overeat, but do not live from hand to mouth.
We are about 80% water. For the body to work properly, it needs to constantly replenish its reserves. Try to drink enough (1.5-2.5 liters per day), but observe the intervals – drink two hours after a meal, and 30 minutes before it.
In addition, in our brain, the nerve centers that regulate the feeling of hunger and thirst are located close to each other. This leads to the fact that we sometimes confuse hunger with thirst. Therefore, try to always drink a glass or two of water half an hour before meals.
Fiber regulates blood sugar levels, very well cleanses the intestines from toxins and toxins. The recommended daily intake of fiber is 40 to 50 g. If your diet is high in fruits, vegetables, whole grains and legumes, you may not need to add fiber. If not, try a separate supplement like bran or psyllium, psyllium husk.
Probiotics will help you to restore the balance of intestinal microflora . Fermented foods such as sauerkraut, oriental kimchi and tempeh are rich in them. Flaxseed, whole grains, apples and bananas also contain them, but not in such quantities as, for example, in sauerkraut.
If you are distracted by your smartphone / book / movie or maybe emotional conversations while eating, you will most likely eat more. In addition, there may be problems with the release of necessary food enzymes – after all, digestion begins in the mouth, when we are aware of the taste of food during chewing, when we like it.
Replacing harmful sweets with useful ones
It will take time, but it will be worth it. Gradually, you can completely replace harmful products with healthier ones at times. For example, instead of sweets, try dates, raisins, and other dried fruits. Roll homemade sweets from dates, coconut flakes and cocoa, make bars from rolled oats, dried fruits and dried berries.
Sweet fruits – oranges, bananas, grapes – can also satisfy your sugar cravings. Fruit smoothies with flax / sesame / chia and honey will fit perfectly into our task. If you haven’t tried homemade frozen banana and berry ice cream yet, it’s time to do it.
Audit of food stocks
Harmful sweets – down with useful ones – in sight. Make a list of healthy sweets and stock up on them. It won’t work right away, be patient and don’t scold yourself for failures. It is also important not to start eating too much wholesome goodies. Especially dried fruits, nuts and all kinds of multicomponent dishes. Remember that the medicine for the poison differs only in the dosage.
Eliminate Nutrient Deficiencies
Get tested and in case of a deficiency, consult a competent doctor about the choice of supplements and possible reasons for the deficiency (it is not always a matter of insufficient intake of substances with food).
Regular physical activity
US scientists have conducted a study that concluded that intense exercise reduces cravings for chocolate in people of normal weight.7 . Plus, regular exercise can help you manage stress, improve your mood, prevent many diseases, and prolong your life. Have you done morning practice / exercises today?
Adequate and healthy sleep
If you don’t get enough sleep, go to bed after 11 pm, hang around on your phone before going to bed, eat up at night, sleep with the lights on – fatigue, chronic stress and hormonal disruptions can become your constant companions. And this can very much lead to cravings for sweets.
Healthy sleep is incredibly important. It is equally important to prepare for it in a few hours. Eliminate doping (coffee, alcohol, etc.), screens, hectic activities.
Walks in the open air
Researchers at the University of Exeter (UK) find that just 15 minutes of walking can reduce chocolate cravings8 . Walking is simply vital for our health. If you have the opportunity to walk in nature or in parks, be sure to use it.
Regular body detox
Intermittent fasting , gentle cleansing, fasting days and other fairly well-known detoxification methods will help you maintain your physical body in a more or less clean state. The fact is that toxins and toxins that we absorb with food, as well as the waste products of our body are retained in the body and harm health and well-being. Sweet cravings can be a symptom of slagging.
Divide into small pieces
One of the easiest recommendations on how to reduce cravings for sweets is to disassemble your treats into small pieces. It helps to trick our brains. Savor every little bite and you will feel like you’re full much sooner.
Learn to deal with stress without sweets
Exercise, yoga, meditation, journaling, organizing your time can really work wonders . Add more awareness and activities to your life that will lead you to health and inner peace.
Remember the art of small steps
Do not jump from the ship to the ball, start gradually. For example, if you are not exercising, to start, simply implement 5-10 minutes of daily exercises in bed. Everyone can do this. If you introduce many innovations at once and rape yourself in the name of their implementation, then very soon you will abandon it. You will develop a latent feeling and loss of faith in yourself, which will later prevent you from trying to make positive changes in your life.
Be consistent and regular
Regularity is the key to success. Even if you are very tired, or you have to skip your daily meditation session, take 5 minutes during the day or before bed and be sure to do it, if not perfect. Try to overcome perfectionism and laziness. You cannot cook porridge without regularity in such matters.
Find ways to give selflessly to the world. This will help you increase the sense of satisfaction and self-satisfaction, the lack of which can be the reason for addiction to goodies. But try to donate time / energy / things / money wisely – without expecting anything in return, out of a state of love and awareness of the consequences for those to whom you donate. (link / video to explain what it means to sacrifice in the three gunas)
BONUS: Method 18. Searching for “inedible” sources of satisfaction, or how to improve your life on all fronts
If the reason for your cravings for sweets and starchy foods is psychological dependence, then this method can be a real salvation for you.
It can be a pleasant hobby, favorite work activity, communication with bright people – in a word, something that inspires you and rewards you with a sense of joy and satisfaction.
But, perhaps, the most effective and most important thing at this point will be the completion of unfinished business.
Such “hang-ups” have two unpleasant effects on you:
- They consume your energy, because periodically (and often unconsciously) your mind is forced to return to these unfinished tasks.
- Such an unfinished project implicitly gives us a feeling of dissatisfaction. There are several reasons for this. Firstly, this property of the brain is inherent in nature – until the job is done, it cannot calm down. You may have noticed this yourself. For example, when you watched a movie / read a book and already realized that it was not worth your attention, but still carried it to the end.
Secondly, this feeling is born because our Higher Self, our soul knows everything about us – where we spoil, when we deceive ourselves. And the soul will constantly remind of this with a feeling of dissatisfaction, dissatisfaction with itself. And at the level of consciousness, we will feel the desire to console ourselves, to receive pleasure, for example, from a fragrant bar of chocolate. It’s much easier and more enjoyable than figuring out yourself.
The unfinished business can manifest itself in a variety of ways. Have you ever wanted to do regular yoga practice or exercise in the morning? Yes, this is your “hanging”. Postponing an important but not very pleasant call for several days? And this will also bother your subconscious mind. Planning a number of tasks every day but not getting it done? Get it – sign for hidden annoyance with yourself.
If you have not expressed gratitude, if you do not have the courage to dot the i’s in a relationship, if you have promised your child to play with him for a long time, and to yourself – to start learning English … these are all your unfinished business. Start to fix it, and the time is not far off when your psychological craving for sweets will wave its pen to you.
Right now, you can make a checklist of what you haven’t completed. You can do some of these points today, and you will immediately feel the release of energy.
It is likely that after looking at your impressive list, you will soberly assess your strengths, prioritize and delete cases with dubious relevance. Such studies will help not only cope with the desire to eat sweets, but also change your whole life for the better.
“There are two desires, the fulfillment of which can make a person’s true happiness – to be useful and have a clear conscience.”
— Lev Tolstoy —
Try to be useful, do not allow yourself to make deals with your conscience, believe in yourself, and it’s a matter of time when your life begins to change for the better!