Anyone who suffers from carbohydrate and sugar cravings knows that it can seem like torture to try to resist them. Yet, doing so can be an important step in achieving optimal health and weight and can improve overall energy levels.
The desire to consume breads, pastries, cakes, and pizza can at times seem over-powering, and indeed, some studies have compared sugar cravings with the need to consume addictive drugs. Researchers speculate that the addictive potential of intense sweetness has to do with sweet receptors located on the tongue. These receptors evolved in ancestral times when the diet was very low in sugar and have not adapted to the high-sugar consumption that occurs in modern times. Therefore, today’s sugar-rich diets result in abnormally high stimulation of these receptors, which triggers excessive reward signals in the brain that can override normal self-control mechanisms, leading to the intense desire for sugar.
A number of factors can cause sugar and carbohydrate cravings.
1) Imbalances in blood sugar due to going many hours without food can lower our resistance to desserts and carbohydrates.
2) Stress and adrenal imbalances can also trigger cravings. The hormones released by the adrenals play an important role in appetite regulation and metabolism.
3) Lack of sleep is another factor that influences cravings and appetite. Occasional sleep loss results in increases in ghrelin and decreases leptin levels, which causes an increase of appetite and hunger.
4) Another factor that affects cravings in women is the menstrual cycle. Research shows that women in the luteal phase of their cycles experience increased food cravings, particularly for carbohydrates and chocolate, and that they eat more during this time of the month.
There are a number of ways to reduce carbohydrate and sugar cravings including: eating many small protein rich meals throughout the day, consuming goat’s rue, cinnamon, bitter melon, N-acetyl cysteine, vandyl sulfate, and chromium picolinate. Detoxing the body for various heavy metals and supplementing to increase the health of the intestines is also very helpful. Learn about more things that can affect cravings at our next class.