Craving sugar after a meal is a problem for many. There are a few reasons that may contribute to this but these are the most common:
- Habit – your body is so used to having sugar that it expects it. Regular consumption of foods high in sugar and fat leads to “neurochemical changes” in the brain–hardwiring you to crave these types of foods. Food cravings often are a result of habit and association–if you have always had something sweet after a meal, you do not feel closure unless you meet that need. Sweet treats often are associated with rewards and positive feelings, so you feel good when you eat them.
- Eating carbohydrates and sugars regularly leads to a roller coaster of ups and downs. High sugar and carbohydrate foods will increase your insulin making you feel good but quickly drops back down leading you to crave these foods again to get that ‘good’ feeling again. Choose protein, fats and low carbohydrate fruits and vegetables to keep your blood sugar levels stable. Don’t skip meals either as this will cause your blood sugar levels to drop and increase the risk of you overeating at your next meal and making poor food choices.
- Another reason for the sugar cravings may be due to serotonin, which is a brain chemical that makes you feel content and happy. Eating sugar may increase the absorption of an amino acid called tryptophan, which helps your body make serotonin, so it’s possible that eating something sweet may make you feel happy. The opposite might be true then too — avoiding sweets may make you feel crabby.
What can you do to decrease the cravings?
- Get some exercise. You may feel better if you go for a walk or get some other type of exercise. Exercise will stimulate brain chemicals that will improve your mood.
- Sugar cravings may lessen if you decrease the number of calories you eat each day, so if you are eating too many calories, cut back.
- Don’t tempt yourself by keeping high-calorie sweets in the house.
- Don’t skip meals, which can make cravings worse.
- Keep your meals simple. The more side dishes and flavors you include in your meals, the more likely you are to overeat.
- Choose healthy side dishes with a sweet taste.
- Reduce carbohydrates and sugar in your meals, choose protein and healthy fats to keep your blood sugar levels stable.
- Satisfy your taste buds’ need for sweet flavor during your meal – Fruits and some vegetables are naturally sweet and offer vitamins, mineral and other important phytochemicals. Dressing up your carrots with a little honey glaze may keep the sugar cravings at bay later.
- Chromium supplements may help keeping blood sugar stable