5 Surprising Reasons Why You’re Craving For Sugar

The wrath of a sweet tooth is fierce. And when you’re trying to eat well, it can be a real nuisance! It’s even worse if you’re trying to lose or manage weight. Too much sugar can easily lead to weight gain, so nixing those sugar cravings is vital.

Americans eat too much sugar. Every day, the average person eats 22 teaspoons of added sugar, which is equivalent to 350 calories. The most popular sources? Processed and prepared foods, including sugar-sweetened beverages like soda.1 It’s easy to blame a sweet tooth on genetics or childhood habits. However, there might be certain other reasons at play.


Common Causes Of Sugar Cravings

1. Too Many Artificial Sweeteners

Artificial sweetners don't meet one's sugar cravings.

At first glance, artificial sweeteners might seem like your sweet tooth’s best friend. They’re low in calories and much sweeter than sugar, so you don’t need to use a lot. For example, sucralose is 600 times sweeter than sugar. But there’s a catch. In the brain, artificial sweeteners don’t activate the same taste pathways as real sugar. This means that the sugar craving is never met! In turn, the craving just grows and grows.2 This goes to show that food acts on more than just our taste buds.


2. Dehydration

Low levels of glycogen and dehydration can cause sugar cravings.

Dehydration sometimes shows up as hunger.3 And if you have a sweet tooth, this can play tricks on your mind when a glass of water might be all you need. Even your liver’s glycogen stores take a hit. Levels of glycogen, which is the storage form of glucose, decreases during dehydration. The result is low blood glucose, hunger, and a hankering for sugar.4


3. Lack Of Sleep

Sleep deprivation fires up grelin, the hunger hormone, and causes overeating.

Sleep doesn’t just recharge the brain and body but also keeps your appetite in check! But when you don’t get enough shut-eye, the “hunger hormone” ghrelin shoots up. This promotes a higher intake of sweets, fats, and everything in between.5 Unfortunately, Americans don’t get much sleep. One in 3 adults is running on less than 7 hours of sleep in a 24-hour period.6 It can mean trouble for your overall health and waistline.


4. Stress

Chronic stress increases cortisol, a hormone linked to appetite.

When you’re stressed, nothing seems better than eating everything in sight. The reason? Chronic stress increases cortisol, a hormone linked to appetite.7 Plus, when you’re anxious, it’s harder to tell the difference between hunger and emotion. You might not even be able to tell when you’re full, hence making that third cookie seem harmless.8 Make stress management a priority. It won’t just help your eating habits but also reduce disease risk and improve overall health.


5. Sedentary Lifestyle

Physical inactivity is linked to overeating, weight gain, and obesity.

Physical inactivity has a strong relationship with overeating, weight gain, and obesity.9 Specifically, television and video games are big reasons – screen time is the perfect setup for sugary (and fatty) snacks.10 One might argue that exercise stirs up an appetite, too. But it’s all about what is being eaten. After breaking a sweat, you’ll feel more inspired to eat a healthy meal.


Healthy Ways To Curb A Sugar Craving

There are healthy and delicious ways to curb your sugar craving

Knowing that you shouldn’t eat sugary food doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy the “sweet things.” Whenever you can, choose all natural and healthy options. These will satisfy your sugar craving without the sugar crash and unhealthy calories. Some options include the following:

  • Banana ice cream: Blend frozen banana slices with berries or cacao powder. In seconds, you have a nutritious non-dairy ice cream. For extra sweetness, add coconut flakes or drizzle with honey.
  • Dates: They are known as nature’s sweetener. In a smoothie, dates can sweeten things up. You can even eat one or two as is.
  • Dark chocolate: Don’t shy away from dark chocolate, a “brain food” that improves cognitive function. Thanks to its anti-inflammatory and antioxidative benefits, dark chocolate is just what you need.11 Add it to oatmeal, yogurt, or trail mix.

By keeping a check on all the things that cause sugar cravings, you can stop yourself from indulging in unhealthy food. This doesn’t mean you can’t give into them every now and then. Opt for healthier options that both satisfy you and don’t ruin your diet.