What brings about sugar cravings? This question is asked a lot, and there is no short and sweet answer. Sugar cravings can happen for many reasons; however, the summary includes the following reasons:  

  • blood glucose levels
  •  menstrual cycle
  • microbiome
  • psychological and social factors

sugar cravings and blood glucose

Sugar cravings may occur if the blood glucose level is too high or too low If you do not have diabetes and your pancreas regulates your blood glucose normally, dips in blood glucose still occur. Blood glucose, on the low-end of the spectrum, may be avoided by including protein, fiber, and fat within the diet.

 For example, instead of only eating dried fruit or raw fruit, include almonds or other types of nuts or seeds. Nuts and seeds are a great source of fiber, protein, and fat. Dried meats such as freeze-dried jerkies are another great source of protein and fat to include with fruit or crackers. 

sugar cravings and your menstrual cycle

Monthly, menstrual cycles or hormones are one reason why sugar or carbohydrate cravings happen to women. Certain phases of the menstrual cycle are responsible for comfort food and sugar cravings.  Read more about it here.  

sugar cravings and the gut microbiome

The microbiome has a great deal of influence on our cravings, but the exact mechanism of action is unknown. 

The media portrays the reason behind sugar cravings as the overgrowth of bad bacteria in the gut. Eating too many simple carbohydrates and sugar grows the number of harmful bacteria in the gut. Research suggests a correlation between gut flora and sugar cravings but the mechanism of action is unknown. More human studies are needed to know what interaction the microbiome plays in sugar cravings. 

 Fermented foods, fruits, and vegetables are the way to grow good bacteria in the gut. Sugar cravings may still occur but eating naturally sweet fruit with protein such as Greek yogurt will satisfy your body’s needs without compromising the quality of foods eaten.  

sugar cravings for social & psychological reasons

Social and psychological reasons one might crave sugar are: 

  • addictive properties of sugar
  • Childhood diet
  • family influence 

The brain craves consistency, so if it is a habit to eat sugary snacks and high fat, low nutrient foods, memories of these foods will be brought to the forefront when hungry. 

The bottom-up response or the automatic response may be to eat the historically eaten foods. Using a top-down reaction or the think before eating response will allow for goal-oriented eating of foods. Refer to the setting up your kitchen for success article for more help.

Sugar cravings may have deep roots in your life if your family culture has supported poor eating behaviors since childhood. As an adult, you are responsible for taking affirmative action to care for your body. 

Since sugar provides feel good chemicals in the brain, it is temporarily rewarding at a cost.  Since there is an incentive to eat sugary foods, it may feel automatic for you to buy celebratory foods regularly as part of your total diet.  

According to the American Heart Association, women should intake no more than 24 grams and men 36 grams of sugar per day. Eating more than recommended increases chances of disorders and diseases. 

consider this for help

If you struggle with sugar cravings, you may want to try the herb gymnema sylvestre. It temporarily blocks sugar taste buds making sugar less desirable. Gymnema sylvestre may be helpful to those with severe sugar cravings. It is safe to use daily in healthy adults.

 Breaking the cycle is possible, and it starts with you. Even though it starts with you, it doesn’t end there. A supportive partner, spouse, and or roommate is crucial to making positive changes. Most interventions work best if the whole family plays their part. When sugar cravings happen, you will want your family member to choose healthy options as well as yourself to avoid triggering old habits. 

Can you identify what triggers your sugar cravings?