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Sugar Cravings & Anxiety: Are they linked?

Sugar Cravings & Anxiety: Are they linked?

How many times has that piece of chocolate or that sugar-laden piece of mithai uplift your mood? Well, it’s miraculous how sugar boosts our mood instantly. But as a wide known fact, it can have long-lasting effects on our health too. 

In fact, sugar-binge not only gives a momentary mood boost commonly described as ‘sugar rush’ or ‘sugar high’ but can have damaging effects on health that can lead to weight gain and even highly chronic illnesses including diabetes and heart diseases. While affecting physical health, excessive consumption of sugar affects mental health too. Research shows that increased consumption of sugar can be associated with anxiety and even depression.  

What is the reason behind sugar cravings?
It’s hard to avoid binging on comfort food after a long hard day at work. Research shows that sugar has a similar effect on the brain as that of an addictive drug. The reason behind elation and momentary gratification is the boost in dopamine, which makes us feel good. 

  • A lot of times sugar cravings stem from blood sugar imbalance. Whenever your body experiences low sugar levels, it starts craving food to boost energy levels. 
  • In the case of essential nutrients, healthy fats and proteins provide a slow and steady form of energy to the body. So whenever the body feels low on energy, it craves sugar to get an instant energy boost. Therefore, lack of protein, healthy fats, vitamin D and magnesium causes sugar cravings. 
  • Cravings are not always because of your tummy or taste buds but your mind too. Stress causes excess cortisol release that in turn increases glucose levels in the blood. Thereby, increased stress levels and lack of sleep are some of the reasons that trigger excess eating including increased sugar consumption to combat fatigue. 

What can you do to cut back on sugar?
A lot of times, sugar-binge starts becoming a habit. So, the first step to overcome sugar cravings is to determine the root cause behind it, be it hunger, emotional eating or habit. Here’s a list of eating and lifestyle habits that you should adopt before rolling into that sugar binge:

  • Start your day with proper breakfast. This will keep you full during the day, thereby reducing cravings. 
  • Dehydration can make you feel hungry and even make you feel low on energy. To prevent sugar cravings, keep yourself hydrated through the day. 
  • Fibre-rich meals slow digestion and stabilize blood sugar, this will help in reducing sugar cravings while keeping up your energy levels.
  • Opt for healthy alternatives to satisfy your sugar cravings. Try including naturally sweet food like bananas, grapes, dates as well as berries. 
  • Do not use artificial sweeteners like aspartame, saccharin and sucralose as they further increase sugar cravings. 
  • Last but not the least, plan your meals in advance to make sure that you have regular meals. Long gaps between meals make the blood sugar drop that further makes you crave sugar. 

By: Navreet Kaur | on 2020-10-27

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