5 Reasons Why You Crave Sugar

Written By

Fiona Lam

Certified neuro-emotional technique (NET) practitioner and naturopath

Did you indulge in sweets over the summer holidays or did you manage to find a healthy balance in your eating habits?

There’s nothing wrong with enjoying some sugary foods occasionally (I for one, am obsessed with dairy-free ice-cream from Girls & Boys!), it is, however, a concern if sugar is a frequent part of your diet because excess sugar consumption is a major contributing factor to basically every disease or health problem such as:

  • Obesity
  • Diabetes
  • Cancer
  • High cholesterol
  • Anxiety / depression
  • IBS
  • Headaches
  • Musculoskeletal pain
  • Acne
  • Allergies
  • Premature ageing
  • Fatigue
  • Poor immune system
  • Insomnia
  • Behavioural problems

…The list goes on.


Self-regulation vs. Self-destruction

There is a difference between consuming sugar because you enjoy it and consuming sugar because you’re craving it.

Enjoying something sweet is having it purely because it is a pleasurable experience without the judgement and guilt which tends to mean more self-regulation when it comes to having enough. However, if you crave something that can be harmful to your health then it’s likely due to a disruption to the body’s biofeedback, causing your body is giving off the wrong signals.

When you want something that is destructive to yourself, it is up to you to find out why so that you can find a way to better yourself.


5 Reasons Why You Crave Sugar

Your body craves sugar for different reasons and each craving can vary for each person.


  1. Reward

Sugary foods can highly desirable because of sugar’s effect on the reward system in the brain called the mesolimbic dopamine system, similar to the effects of other substances such as illicit drugs, painkillers, cigarettes and alcohol.

As discussed in one of my articles, ‘How We’ve Become Addicted To Technology’, when dopamine is released as a result of some form of gratification i.e. eating sweets, this neurochemical will drive us to crave more pleasure in anticipation of another rewarding experience. Meaning our attention can be drawn to cakes and chocolates when we’re not necessarily hungry, but because it has evoked cravings.


  1. Stress

Do you find yourself looking in the pantry when you’re feeling down or tense? Finding comfort in food is common and is known as emotional eating. Emotionally eating is a default for many people to avoid confronting their negative emotions. Negative emotions may lead to a feeling of emptiness which is why people mistakenly attempt to fill that void by eating sugar.

The other reason eating sugar is a common coping mechanism is because of its ability to increase serotonin levels –  a neurotransmitter that regulates your mood, appetite, memory and social behaviour. When sugar increases serotonin, it makes you feel happier but only temporarily and consequently, your brain will continue to crave this state of euphoria again and again.


  1. Imbalanced Diet

Another cause of sugar cravings is when your diet is less than optimal and having a low protein intake is one of the main contributing factors. Because protein and fats slow the release of sugar into the bloodstream, your blood sugar levels can spike and fall at an abnormal rate without adequate protein and fat consumption. Sudden drops in blood glucose will cause your body to crave energy from a more immediate source, such as sugar.

This is why you crave sugar on a high carbohydrate diet, particularly if it’s simple carbohydrates. High carbohydrate diets will cause the blood sugars to have a rollercoaster effect resulting in elevated insulin levels leaving you neither full nor satisfied which only leaves you wanting more food soon after eating.


  1. Dehydration

Up to 70% of your body is made up of water, it is the most abundant substance in your body by far, therefore it is likely that you’re chronically dehydrated if you are not replenishing your water stores on a daily basis.


Dehydration is often mistaken for sugar cravings and hunger pains. An example of this would be how you may find yourself reaching for that afternoon pick-me-up in the form of a cookie, chocolate or a coffee when it could in fact be your body’s signal for needing to drink more water.

Additionally, insufficient fluid intake can make it more difficult for the body to metabolise glycogen (stored glucose) for energy production, which leads to the search for a quick source of energy in food.


  1. Malnourishment

If you crave sugar, your body could be trying to tell you that your brain and body cells are in need of mineral nourishment. For example, iron deficiencies can cause you to feel fatigued and weak which may be the reason you long for quick energy to get through the day.

A lack of calcium, zinc, chromium and magnesium can also manifest itself as sugar cravings because they’re crucial minerals for maintaining your hydration status and carbohydrate metabolism which in turn also stabilises blood sugar levels. Together, these minerals are involved in hundreds of other vital bodily processes including hormone regulation and mood chemical production which controls the way you think, behave and feel.

The Rocky Road To Ending Your Sugar Cravings

(Chocolate pun fully intended.)

Sugar cravings can be a challenging part of your everyday life and it can even leave you feeling frustrated when you feel as if you have little self-control. If you relate to this article, I would encourage you to make small adjustments to your diet or lifestyle now that you have more knowledge of some of the causes because even the smallest actions are steps in the right direction!

For more practical step by step tips on how you can feel in control, sign up to the transformational online course ‘7 Steps To Overcome Fear and Win At Life‘ TODAY!



7 Steps to Overcome Fear and Win At Life

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