Whether you’re longing for a bar of chocolate after lunch or need that touch of sweetness post an evening snack, sugar cravings are fairly common. However, with diabetes being on a rise in India and nearly 72 million  people suffering from it, you might want to reconsider those sweet tooth cravings. Besides, sugar can be addictive  and is responsible for a host of health issues such as weak immunity, chronic infections, heart disease, ADD, and candida.
Did you know that there are various possible reasons for sugar cravings, including bad food habits, nutritional deficiency, and programming of your brain? We tell you more about all of these medical reasons for sugar cravings and ways to manage them.
The Brain Factor
Your sweet tooth may actually be your brain telling you to get a treat. Here’s how it works. There is a horseshoe-shaped area in the brain known as the hippocampus . It is responsible for creating good and bad patterns and influences the reward-seeking behavior. More often than not, these habits are a conditioned response to certain actions. This is why you instantly want something sweet after lunch, every day at the same time.
What Can You Do: Force your mind to create new patterns. For instance, instead of having a cupcake or pastry after dinner, take a walk or listen to energizing music. Similarly, replace your sugary snacks with healthy ones, the ‘out of sight, out of mind’ theory works in training your mind. This would take time but try it for a month and see the difference.
The Diet & Nutrition Factor
Reprogramming your brain can be a challenge, but the real work lies in changing your food habits as this directly addresses the causes of sugar craving. Some food items and nutrition deficiencies can be reasons for craving sweets and it helps to tackle them.
Low Protein Meal: One of the top things to affect your sugar levels is a low protein diet. Essentially, protein slows the release of sugar from foods in your bloodstream, which means when you don’t consume enough protein, you have drastic highs and lows of sugar, making it one of the common causes of sweet cravings.
What Can You Do: Every meal should have a protein addition to it. Plus, you can boost your protein intake by adding pure Whey Protein Isolate to your daily food schedule.
High GI Foods: The glycemic index (GI) is a system that measures the amount of carbohydrates in a food item. The higher the GI, the faster it affects your blood sugar. Potatoes, bread, sugary drinks and sweets, and white rice are food with high GI. While one must not fully cut these items out of their diet, it is best to complement them with the right amount of fiber, protein, and fats in your food. If consumed alone, these foods may not bring satiety and leave you wanting more, making this another reason for craving for sweet foods.
What Can You Do: You need to have a balanced diet with all the nutrients. Besides, you should not completely cut down carbs from your foods, your body might crave sugar even more. Best to pace it slowly and create a right plan with your nutritionist that works for your body.
Artificial Sweeteners: For diabetics and fitness enthusiasts, artificial sweeteners were a boon. However, research  suggests that they don’t help reduce sugar intake in the long run and can even be one of the reasons for sugar craving.
What Can You Do: As mentioned above, sugar is addictive, so it’s best if you can slowly cut it down. However, until then stay away from artificial sweeteners and opt for natural sweet sources like fruits and spices like cinnamon, nutmeg, and cardamom.
Too Much Processed Food: The definition of processed food is that it has been changed in some way during the process of packaging. For example, they have been dried, frozen, canned, etc. Most of these food items are high in salt, sugar, chemicals, and preservatives. These alter the sugar levels in your body, as well as affect your hormones in the long run leading to different cravings. This is why high intake of processed foods is regarded as one of the main causes of sugar craving, as well as obesity and multiple other health issues. Additionally, it creates a ‘feel-good reward’ pattern in the brain, which keeps seeking that kind of food every time after.
What Can You Do: While it may be difficult to cut down processed food altogether you can learn to pick the healthier options amongst them, as not all processed foods are bad. Learn to read labels and pick ones with low fats, saturated fats, sugar, and salt. These include foods like whole-grain cereal, peanut or other nut butter, yogurt, and frozen vegetables and fruits.
Lack Of Nutrients: Often, the lack of vitamins, minerals, iron, and fatty acids lead to food cravings in your body. It is your body’s way of saying you need to stock up on healthy nutrients. For instance, low hemoglobin and lack of calcium, zinc, Omega 3, chromium, and magnesium can be one of the reasons for sugar craving. The reason is that these nutrients help maintain hydration. Their deficiency can make your body believe it has low glucose, and craves sugar.
What Can You Do: Eat healthy and a balanced meal, as well as have nutritional supplements in your diet. Consult your nutritionist and opt for good quality supplements.