Why Am I Craving Sweets?

It’s two in the morning and suddenly, you find yourself unable to sleep and craving sweets. You go through the cupboard and refrigerator to find something, anything, to satisfy that urge. Finally, in desperation you throw a burrito shell on a hot buttered griddle, heat one side, flip it and sprinkle on cinnamon and sugar. Your urge is satisfied and you now can go to sleep. That’s not a story I made up, but one that a client at Next Level Fitness in Irvine, CA, told me. Together, we found the cause for that craving. It’s not just late at night that cravings come. You may find yourself snatching the last bit of candy from your child’s Easter Basket or stock up on sugary treats at the gas station.

Sugar is addictive.

Most of the time, you get a rush of energy when you eat a high carb sugary treat. It’s more than satisfying, it actually changes the brain circuitry similar to cocaine. It impacts the reward system of the brain, which is the release of dopamine, the happy hormone. It also dampens the sensitivity of the opioid receptors. A 12-day animal study showed that giving unrestricted access to sugar water for just one hour a day with normal food also given, completely altered the pleasure center and pushing natural pleasures to the background, just as drug addiction does. As with all addictions, you’ll crave sugar.

It’s a vicious cycle.

It might be your addiction to sugar and quick carbohydrates that are keeping you awake. Everyone is different and for most, the rush of sugar can boost their energy level. For those addicted to sugar, that sudden withdrawal of quick energy can cause sleepless nights. The changes in your brain chemistry leads to the same effects as any drug addiction. Try to break that addiction and you’ll go through withdrawal, which includes having insomnia. What’s even worse, is that lack of sleep can also cause you to crave sugar.

The more sugar you eat, the more you crave.

It’s natural for people to immediately like sugar. Scientists believe it’s a natural urge, since most sweet tasting plants aren’t poisonous and it was built into man for survival. Today, sugar is in everything you eat and drink. When you eat too much sugar, it actually changes your taste buds, requiring more sugar to get the sugary taste, so you crave more and more. The more sugar you eat, the less you notice the sweetness of food and the more you need.

  • High fructose corn syrup is used in many products, so even if you think you’ve cut out sugar, you still may be consuming it where you would least likely expect, like in nut butters or cereals.
  • Eating a diet too low in all carbs will cause insomnia, since the body needs carbs to make serotonin, which you need to sleep. You may be craving sugar because you aren’t eating enough calories.
  • Some cravings aren’t physiological, but psychological. Are sugary treats your go-to comfort food? Try switching to fruit and savoring the sweetness of it.
  • When you get a sugar craving, try doing something else like going for a walk or drinking a glass of water. Grabbing a candy bar or other sugar may be more of a habit. If it is, switch it for a new one.

For more information, contact us today at Next Level Fitness

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