Cravings are just something experienced by pregnant women, right?
Cravings typically center around food categories like sweets, starchy foods, fast foods, and salty snacks.
It’s the sweets category, however, that tops the list of most commonly craved items. And if you’ve ever experienced such cravings, then you know they can derail a diet plan pretty quickly!
Sometimes you can crave these things due to the power of suggestion. Commercials…cough, cough…commercials.
And, sometimes you crave these categories of food due to behavioral patterns like a lack of sleep, extra physical activity, or consuming a large amount of “craving sensitive” foods (like typical junk foods).
Or, perhaps you crave such foods due to emotional reasons? Comfort food, anyone?
But, when it comes to sweets, in particular, there could be some physiological reasons for why you have such cravings.
In fact, these sugar cravings may actually be a warning sign from your body signaling a few common deficiencies or problems.
The good news is, that old 80’s commercial phrase works perfectly here: “knowing is half the battle.”
First we’ll identify the 3 most common causes of why your body may be continually craving sugar (half the battle), then we’ll detail the solution to fix those problems and combat those cravings!
Why Are You Craving Sugar?
There are three common reasons that your body may be craving sugar/sweets: dehydration, a lack of magnesium, and an imbalance in blood sugar levels.
First, how can you become dehydrated?
- When you’re unable to consume an adequate amount of liquid, you can become dehydrated.
- When you lose a significant amount of water due to sweat from physical exertion, you can become dehydrated.
- When you experience fluid loss from vomiting and/or diarrhea, you can become dehydrated.
- When your blood sugar levels are elevated, you can become dehydrated.
Second, how does the body signal dehydration (just looking at mild dehydration here)?
- You become thirsty.
- Your mouth becomes dry.
- Your urine output decreases.
- You may experience muscle cramps.
- You may crave sweet foods.
Soooo, did you catch the last point for each of those questions?
To reiterate: Elevated blood sugar levels can cause dehydration. And, your body may crave sugar as a result of dehydration.
While we’ll get to the link between sugar cravings and blood sugar levels in a moment (spoiler alert), let’s just address dehydration and sugar cravings here.
Dehydration is said to be the most common cause of sugar cravings. Why?
Well, your body uses stored sugar, also known as glycogen, for energy. When your body is lacking fluid, it makes it harder to break down that glycogen.
As a result, your body says “hey, I need some sugar for energy,” and thus you…crave sugar.
The thing is, your body really doesn’t need sugar, it needs water. But, the urge for sugar consumption is how that need gets translated, giving you that extreme desire for all things sweet.
Deficient in Magnesium
We just mentioned this in the section above regarding dehydration, so it’s quiz time!
What does your body use for energy? What was that (leans ear in closely to hear your answer), you said, “stored sugar or glycogen”? You’re absolutely correct!
But, how does this relate to magnesium levels?
Magnesium is essential for so many things within your body!
- heart rate
- muscle function
- nerve function
- a healthy immune system
- strong bones
- blood sugar levels
All of the above require magnesium in some way (for health, support, action, reaction, and operation).
But, let’s zero in on those blood sugar levels and the reason for your impromptu pop quiz a moment ago.
- Magnesium helps to regulate blood sugar
- Your body needs magnesium to bring energy into your cells
- A lack of magnesium can cause insulin resistance
All of these things signal one thing to your body, “hey, I need sugar!” (sugar to keep levels from dipping, sugar for energy and for your cells)
But, once again, the problem here is that really, and truly, your body doesn’t actually need sugar. No, you don’t need sweets in this instance, you need magnesium.
Blood Sugar Imbalances
Both low and high blood sugar levels can be serious health issues.
When your blood sugar levels become too low, you can experience:
- Cold sweats
When your blood sugar levels become too high you can experience:
- Frequent urination
- Excessive thirst
- Blurred vision
- Nausea or vomiting
- Dry mouth
- Rapid heat rate
With sugar cravings, in relation to both low and high blood sugar levels, it’s kind of like a pendulum. And, these cravings can be caused by the pendulum swinging back and forth.
When you eat sugar, your body produces insulin to lower the amount of sugar in your body to manageable (and safe) levels.
Unfortunately, this can all too often cause the pendulum to swing too far to the other end of the sugar spectrum, causing your blood sugar levels to go a bit too low. So, your body then says “hey, I need sugar!” But…in reality, it doesn’t.
Truthfully, your body just craves blood sugar balance, not actual sugar/sweets.
How To Stop Your Cravings
So, you’re continually craving sugar. Why not just skip the investigative work and cave to those cravings?
First, that’s a slippery slope!
And, besides that, we’ve just learned from those three areas above that your body really and truly isn’t asking for sugar/sweets with those cravings.
So, before you reach for the candy, or the cakes, or the cookies, try the following:
When the urge for something sweet hits you, curbing that craving can be as simple as drinking a glass of water.
“But I don’t like plain water.”
Well…there’s lots of effective (and refreshing) ways to hydrate. Be creative!
Try adding a bit of flavor to your water via infusion: lemon, cucumber, berries, and mint are all great additions.
Some non-caffeinated teas, like herbal options, can be effective at hydrating your sugar-craving body.
And, electrolyte drinks can help as well.
But, if you’ve still just gotta have something sweet…shoot for a water-logged fruit such as watermelon. Watermelon is 92% water: refreshing, sweet, and hydrating.
Deficient in Magnesium
When you’re dehydrated, you can just chug some water, but how do you combat a deficiency in magnesium, which may be making you crave sugar?
First, be sure you are incorporating magnesium-rich foods into your diet, such as:
- Cooked beans (lima, navy, pinto)
- Swiss chard
And, you can also choose to take a magnesium supplement if you aren’t able to obtain enough magnesium from your diet alone.
Blood Sugar Imbalances
Eating a diet rich in protein, high fiber foods, and complex carbohydrates is said to provide healthy fuel for your body to carry out needed functions, but these foods are digested at a slower rate which can aid in keeping blood sugar levels in check.
Healthy fats are good choices as well. Meals containing healthy fats and proteins can ensure that your body doesn’t release excess amounts of insulin in response (to that meal), thus keeping the pendulum from swinging in response to blood sugar levels.
So then, if you feel like your sweet tooth is being a nag…maybe it’s not your sweet tooth?
Be sure you’re hydrating, supplying your body with needed magnesium, and keeping your blood sugar levels in check!
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