Awww, the sugar cravings - we all experience them at a certain point and some feel that need for s̶p̶e̶e̶d̶ sweets more than others. Raise your hand if you in that boat?! Cravings are extremely common, with 97% of women and 68% of men reporting episodes of food cravings.
And no, the willpower has nothing to do with that, but what does?
We need certain minerals like magnesium, iron, zinc, calcium, chromium to function properly and fell energetic and happy. Take magnesium - it's involved in over 300 processes in the body, including energy production, and plays an important role in the regulation of glucose homeostasis and insulin actions. Low magnesium levels are associated with an increased risk of depression. And do you know what food is rich in magnesium? Drum roll, please - high quality chocolate!
Solution: make sure you prioritize diversity and seasonal foods in your diet so that the body absorbs and gets from food the necessary amount of a nutrient. Leafy greens, colorful fruits and vegetables and healthy, high quality fats (don't forget, vitamins A, D, K, E are fat soluble) are the way to go.
Some veggies are better eaten cooked: like tomatoes, because their lycopene content (a powerful antioxidant that might help protect cells from damage) goes way up after 30-minutes of cooking. Broccoli is better eaten raw since cooking destroys its' vitamin c content.
Don't eat the same meals every day (i'm often guilty of this!) and do get blood tests from your doctor at least once a year.
P.S. This pic makes me drool!
2. Lack of "zzzz"
Lack of sleep makes us cranky, anxious and fatigued, forcing the body to crave fast energy sources like simple carbs to "restore" the energy cells. Not to mention that decreased sleep increases insulin resistance, which can in turn increase blood sugar levels. As a result, a lack of sleep has been associated with diabetes. Powerful stuff!
Solution - sleep:) But focus of quality vs quantity, remove all electronics from your night time ritual for at least one hour before sleep, wear blue light blocking glasses, practice grounding breathing (ask me how, i'm happy to help!), sip on hot chocolate (it contains magnesium, see above), keep cool temperature in the bedroom, diffuse lavender essential oil, etc.
We all now that chronic and "bad" stress (when the cortisol levels stay elevated throughout the day instead of lowering just in time for bed) is not good for us and may play a role in poor sleep (do you see how it's all connected?), enhanced appetite, cravings and decreased motivation for physical activity. When we are going through a stressful period, we have a high level of a hormone called cortisol and crave sugar because if when one eats some sugar, another hormone called serotonin is being released, causing us to calm down and chillax a bit. Another thing is when we are stressed out the hypothalamus and pituitary signal for the release of cortisol from the adrenal glands, increasing blood sugar to use as fuel. This is a good thing in acute stress scenarios aka running away from a bear. But when this occurs several times a day, this can lead to blood sugar dysregulation and sugar cravings.
Solution - quit the whole "adulting" thing. JK (or am i:). Do what works for you to stay calm in the sea of stress - meditate, breath, take a walk, blast a favorite song, dance, talk to a friend, take a nap...
Believe it or not dehydration is often mistaken for sugar cravings. A lack of fluid intake can make it more difficult for the body to metabolize glycogen (stored glucose) for energy, resulting in unstable blood sugar levels. And since glucose is a source of fuel for the cells and water helping with this process, dehydration causes some problems in this energy production output, resulting in cravings for sweets.
Solution - pretty obvious - drink some water. For every caffeinated drink add a tall glass of filtered water. Also count how many times per day you use the bathroom - it should be at least 6 and above. (Off to find the nearest restroom:).
5. Dieting and poor choice of nutrients
Simply put restricting consumption of certain foods makes you crave them even more. "This relationship suggests a variety of underlying cognitive, conditioning and emotional processes, of which ironic cognitive processes, conditioned cue reactivity and dysphoric mood are prominent." Food cravings may also be self-attributions, accounting for why a highly-palatable but self-restricted food is (over-)consumed. Also going "solo" on simple and processed carbs isn't a good idea: proteins and fats slow down the absorption of sugars and without them, you'll feel that sweet need sooner.