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Are you the type of person that needs a dessert to follow every meal? Alternatively, perhaps your sweet tooth strikes most while sitting at your desk during the afternoon stretch. Sugar cravings are common and can often be explained by simple things, like a side effect from certain foods or bad nutritional habits.
The next time you find yourself reaching for a sweet treat, stop to consider the reasons behind what’s motivating your craving.
What Sugar Cravings Mean
Sugar cravings are bound to appear whenever you consume sugar. Several areas in your brain play a significant role in the crave sensation. The horseshoe-shaped hippocampus, located in your temporal lobe, enables you to remember the taste of dark chocolate versus milk chocolate. These short-term and long-term memories play a significant role in forming habits, so if your cravings always strike right after lunch, it’s likely due to muscle memory.
Listed below are some other reasons why you could be having an increase in sugar cravings.
You Could Be Dehydrated
One of the main reasons why your body craves sugar is dehydration. If you notice that you are feeling thirsty, you may already be dehydrated at that point. When the body is dry, there are some physiologic changes that the body experiences. One of the first changes is a hormonal shift, and often this involves the hormones related to hunger. When these hormones are not well maintained or under control, it’s likely that you will notice more intense and more frequent cravings.
You Eat More Sugar Than Recommended
Another reason why you are craving sugar consistently throughout the day is that your body is used to eating more sugar than what is recommended. On average, Americans consume about 13% of their daily calories from sugar.
Your Hormone Levels Are Off
You may be experiencing a hormone issue relating to dopamine, which is labeled as the happy hormone in your brain that is present when you are euphoric. Your brain releases dopamine when you eat sugar, so the euphoria you get from consuming foods with high sugar content is the dopamine taking effect. Sugar cravings are your brain’s way of trying to get that same satisfaction again.
You Recently Ate Salty Foods
Consuming processed foods, or food that has large amounts of sodium can increase sugar cravings. Being aware of sodium levels is just as vital as paying attention to sugar content. When it comes to foods, stick to more naturally salty foods like cheese or olives, and your sweet cravings will lessen.
You’re Not Getting Enough Protein
Eating foods that are high in carbohydrates and starch will inevitably lead to a sugar craving. Simple carbohydrates enter the bloodstream fast, raising blood sugar, then subsequently raise your hormone insulin levels. Without incorporating fiber, protein, or fat in your food, simple carbohydrates alone won’t leave you full or satisfied.
When cutting carbohydrates from your diet, your body tends to crave quick energy, so it’s likely that you will experience an increase in sugar cravings the first few days on a low or no-carb diet.
Curbing Cravings For Your Overall Health
If you’re in search of ways to stop your sugar cravings, the answer is that it depends greatly on a few different factors. One factor is your motivation to make a change. The other is having the tools around you to make your mission successful. The tools you need to stop craving sugar are the foods that you eat to replace the habit. To stop eating sugar, it’s vital to surround yourself with healthy food options.
Not only will reducing your sugar cravings have a positive effect on your waistline, but your teeth will benefit too! A diet high in sugar is one of the top contributors to tooth decay.
Need a few ideas for what to eat when you have a sugar craving? Ask Tompkins Dental what our favorite sugar substitutes are at your next cleaning and exam!