6 Surprising Reasons You're Craving Sugar

Find out why you can't get enough of the sweet stuff.

6 Surprising Reasons You're Craving Sugar

By Diana Kelly Levey

You might be tempted to blame the holiday season for suddenly thinking about and craving sweets more often, but there may be some other causes for your sweet tooth in play. Here are six unexpected reasons you’re craving candy, cookies, and cake at all hours of the day. Read on to find out more and learn how to regain control over your diet as well.

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You're starving yourself.

Have you started a new extreme diet recently? Sugar is an addictive substance and when you deprive yourself of important nutrients you need, your body seeks out a quick energy hit that it knows it’ll get from the sweet stuff. That’s why when you’re not eating enough calories, you’re more likely to succumb to cravings and binge on something sweet or junk food—not a bag of raw carrots. According to one study, when rats were food-deprived daily for 12 hours, then were given 12-hour access to a sugar solution and chow, they learned to drink the sugar solution copiously, especially when it first became available each day. After a month on this intermittent-feeding schedule, the rats showed behavior similar to that of drug abusers. Simply put, when you’re on an unbalanced diet or not eating enough, your brain will push you to seek out “energy” as soon as it can to survive—likely in the form of sugary foods or drinks. Eating a balanced diet can help control sugar cravings and prevent you from overeating later.

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Q: I end up overeating because it makes me feel better and I never really get full. I'd like to lose weight but this makes it hard. Any suggestions?

A: Being persistently hungry can cause big trouble. So can overeating for comfort/pleasure. These two behaviors, say researchers from Baylor University's Children's Nutrition Research Center, are controlled deep within your brain by serotonin-producing neurons, but operate separately from each other — one in the hypothalamus, the other in the midbrain. They both can, however, end up fueling poor nutritional choices and obesity.

Eating for Hunger

When hunger is your motive for eating, the question is: "Does your body know when you've had enough?" Well, if you are overweight, obese or have diabetes you may develop leptin resistance and your "I am full" hormone, leptin, can't do its job. The hormone's signal to your hypothalamus is dampened, and you keep eating.

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