Not all food cravings are a bad thing.
In fact, you shouldn't necessarily resist a food craving because when it appears regularly, it can be a sign that tells you there are nutritional imbalances in your diet that need to be fixed.
The most common food craving is a sweet-tooth or addiction to highly processed, sweet junk foods and snacks.
Obviously, this type of craving is very different from a craving that you might have for a nourishing, sweet tasting whole food, such as raw dates, dried fruit, maple syrup, raw honey or a ripe, juicy mango!
Of course, indulging in a sweet treat from time to time is all good. But if you find yourself frequently giving to the convenience and taste of processed snacks that are full of insulin-spiking fast sugars and chemical additives, you will put your health at risk of unwanted lifestyle diseases and conditions such as:
- Obesity and Diabetes
- Sugar addictions
- Tooth Decay
- Cardiovascular disease
- Degenerative diseases such as alzheimers, arthritis and osteoporosis.
What Causes Sugar Cravings?
Although everyone is different and there are many reasons why you may crave sweet foods, the 5 most common causes of incessant sweet food cravings that might eventually harm you and your health, are these:
1. Poor Diet
Like most things, dietary choices are one of the key determinants of health and wellness.
This is also especially true when it comes to cravings, because if you constantly crave sweet foods, its usually because you're eating too many "empty" calories from foods such as:
- Fried, Fatty, Salty snacks (particularly those prepared with hydrogenated oils and chemically treated salt i.e. sodium)
- Starchy and sugary carbohydrates e.g. Supermarket Packaged Wheat Products like white bread, pasta, pastries, cakes, biscuits and pastries etc…
- Artificial sweeteners like aspartame which are in many diet foods and sodas.
Or it's because, you're not eating enough foods such as:
- Whole foods and plant fibre
- High quality Protein
- Good fats e.g. avocados, nuts and cold-pressed plant oils such as olive oil and coconut oil
This can contribute to unbalancing your blood sugar levels which brings us to the next factor.
2. Low Blood Sugar
In simple terms, there are only 2 types of sugars:
- Man-Made, also known as ‘Fast sugars’
- Plant-Made, also known as ‘Slow sugars’
The man-made sugars are the high glycemic index sugars that most people reach for when they crave sweet foods. They are harmful because the sugar molecules are so small, they cross the blood-brain barrier very quickly giving you an instant ‘sugar hit’.
The problem is that this rapid ‘spike’ in blood sugar levels is short-lived, because not long afterwards, you will hit a trough and feel lethargic. The result is low blood sugar, leaving you craving more sugar to bring your levels back up again.
This results in an addictive and vicious sugar cycle, leaving you dependant on regular hits of fast sugars to get you through the day due to nutritional imbalances in your body.
Learn more in 8 Tips For Healthy Blood Sugar Balance
3. Intestinal Parasites
In addition to the havoc that processed sugary foods cause within your body and on your energy levels, they can also feed bad bacteria and harmful microbes in your digestive system.
Processed, sugary foods are difficult to digest because they contain little fibre. Additionally the additives and preservatives typically in these foods, encourage the growth of yeasts like candida and fungi in the gut, which creates the perfect environment for parasites to thrive.
Parasites and intestinal worms love a steady supply of sugar to feed on as well, so if you have them in your digestive tract, as a result of a poor diet, they can actually make you crave even more sweet foods.
Interestingly, usually when you decide to do some type of fast or detox, initially the sugar cravings may worse as the parasites ‘scream out’ for more sugar as a result of the toxic environment they’ve become accustomed to. This is why many people who are in poor physical health struggle through the first few days of a fast or cleanse, until the parasites have been starved to death and can be eliminated from the body.
Many people find that when they're feeling stressed or under a lot of pressure they begin to get cravings for sweet foods.
There’s a perfectly good natural explanation for this. Being stressed or anxious actually puts the body’s systems into overdrive and uses up a lot of energy including reserves. With fast sugars providing a rapid shot of energy it makes sense that you’d crave these types of foods.
As your stress levels increase, so too does the amount of energy required to fuel the heightened ‘fight or flight’ state. Unfortunately these days with so many people living with chronic stress, it’s understandable that the number of people experiencing sugar cravings has also increased as a ‘quick fix’ coping mechanism.
Learn more in Stress Management Without Harmful Addictions
When emotions are running high, especially negative ones like sadness, grief and depression, many people indulge in emotional eating with sugary ‘comfort foods’ as a way to soothe themselves.
In addition to providing a quick energy boost, sweet sugary foods also increase serotonin levels in the brain.
Serotonin is important for regulating positive feelings which can be enhanced temporarily with a sugar hit. However, reliance on sugar to boost serotonin and feel good chemicals can be like an addiction to drugs, that will eventually lead to dependency, withdrawal symptoms, mood swings and depression.
Healthy Ways To Beat Sweet Food Cravings
Eat Whole Foods
To replace the sugary treats and processed foods, fill your diet with a lot more plant-based whole foods from nature’s table.
You can also ramp up your intake of healthy fats and more readily absorbed ‘first source’ protein by increasing your intake of certain fruits, vegetables and nuts which are naturally protein-rich.
Learn more in The Truth About Protein & Muscular System Foods
In addition to the nourishment and nutrition they provide, plant whole foods are also powerful tools to use for your emotional health as well. Not only will they provide a steady supply of ‘slow sugar’ to the brain keeping you calm, stable and more relaxed, but eating certain coloured fruits and vegetables will also target the healing of certain emotional states as well.
Learn more in Feeding Your Emotions With Whole Foods
Fast & Cleanse
In addition to cleaning up your diet, and in order to help clear out a build-up of internal plaque from eating too much processed food, it’s also a great idea to undertake some form of detoxification and cleansing either through:
When you clean out the backed up junk stored in your digestive tract and then do an extended juice or water fast, you not re-set your digestive and immune systems, you also rewire your tastebuds as well.
Learn more in 5 Signs You Need To Do A Detox Cleanse & Where To Start
Drink More Water
With the human body mostly being made up of water, this is vital principle of health plays an important part in all parts of our optimal physiological functioning and wellness.
Being dehydrated or not drinking enough water can lead to cravings as it triggers the same part of the brain that’s responsible for hunger. In order to keep this mechanism in check as well as to ensure all your body’s systems are performing at their best, aim to drink at least 6-8 glasses (2 litres) of pure, clean fresh water every day.
Learn more in Water: Nature’s Best & Why It’s Critical To Life
Reduce Stress Levels
Calming your body and mind will not only help to relax your nervous system but also positively influence your mood and emotions. Try integrating some of these activities into your life instead of reaching for the closest sweet treat:
- Yoga, Tai Chi & Qi Gong
- Earthing (walking barefooted on the sand or grass).
Learn more in 7 Ways To Deal With Anxiety & Find Inner Peace
Use Essential Oils
Pure essential oils can be very effective for knocking out sweet cravings and warding off hunger because besides their physical health benefits, they can soothe and calm the emotions.
Try adding 1-2 drops each of Cinnamon Bark and Lemon essential oils to a glass of water and drink to not only help digestion, but kill the sweet tooth as well. Use Lavender essential at night time to help you get a restful nights sleep, by massaging a couple of drops into your temples or onto your pillow.
Choose Natural Sweeteners
If despite everything you still crave sugary foods or naturally just have a sweet tooth or penchant for treats, the best thing you can do is seek out natural sweeteners that are wholesome, healthy alternatives to artificial sugars. The best natural sugars to go for include raw organic honey, organic maple syrup and raw medjool dates to sweeten smoothies and raw treats.
The Main Takeaway
Constant sweet cravings are usually a sign of some type of nutritional deficiency.
When your body and cells are nourished, your appetite tends to be more satiated, meaning you're less likely to be triggered to crave or seek out sugary and fatty snacks or substitutes to plug the gaps.
For this reason, the best defence against sweet tooth, junk food or fast food cravings, is always a clean diet rich in whole food that is nutrient rich. And the good news is, that nature also provides a number of delightful whole food sweeteners, that will not only satisfy your sweet tooth cravings, but will also deliver nutrients and enzymes that are beneficial to your cells.
If that's not enough to move you away from an over indulgence in sweet foods that leave you feeling guilty, it's probably time to consider doing some type of detox cleanse, to remove the blockages from your digestive tract that are likely impeding the efficient delivery of nutrients to your body.
Tolman Self Care.