If you've tried to cut sugar and fats out of your life only to end up binging on candy and chips over the weekend, you're certainly not alone. The truth is, junk food is often addictive. But don't fret, breaking up with sugar and fat is possible, but it's crucial that you understand what causes the cravings so you can deal with the root of the problem.
4 Reasons Your Body Craves Sugar and Fat
Reason 1: You Are Not Getting Enough Sleep
It doesn't matter how hard you try to stick to your healthy diet; if you don't get enough sleep, you'll be fighting your cravings constantly. Why? Sleep deprivation can cause hormonal balances, specifically by increase ghrelin, also known as the hunger hormone, which sends signals to your brain to increase your appetite. And the elevated ghrelin doesn't just tell your body to eat more — it drives the urge for sugar and carbohydrates specifically.
How to Get Enough Sleep
Getting six to eight hours of uninterrupted sleep every night promotes a normal hormonal balance that can keep those cravings in check. If this sounds like a long shot for you, making a "sleep better" plan can help!
Start by putting some good sleep hygiene practices into place. Consistent bedtimes and wake times are key. Turn off screens an hour before bed (don't sacrifice your sleep for another Netflix episode — it's just not worth it!). Dim the lights. Wind down before bed: read a book, listen to some relaxing music, practice meditation, journal, pray, whatever you find relaxing and feel you can commit to doing most evenings.
Like a bedtime snack? Choose these sleep-promoting plant-based foods.
Reason 2: You Are Stressed
Cortisol, the stress hormone, plays an important role in appetite control. When your cortisol levels are high, your insulin levels increase and this causes your blood sugar to drop, making you feel hungry and crave comfort foods.
How to Manage Stress
Stress is normal, and we all experience it daily. While unfortunately common, especially this year, chronic stress is not normal. The best thing you can do for your health is fine ways to reduce your stress.
Meditate, do some yoga, workout, watch a favorite movie, connect with friends; find what makes you feel relaxed and make sure to incorporate it in your daily routine.
Reason 3: Your Blood Sugar is Out of Balance
Foods that are high in sugar but low in fiber (like many of our favorite junk foods tend to be) are the biggest culprits when it comes to messing with our blood sugars. When you eat refined sugars, your blood sugar levels rise and then plummet, causing you to crave more sugar to bring those levels back up.
How to Rein in Your Blood Sugar
First get rid of refined sugars in your house. I know, this isn't the most popular suggestion but it's necessary if you want to kick cravings to the curb.
Put your home through a sugar detox! This means going through your pantry, your fridge, your freezer and tossing (or donating) anything that’s made with refined sugar.
Then when you crave something sweet, don't deprive yourself – reach for fruits instead. Fruits are high in vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. They are also naturally sweet, and high in fiber, which means that they don't cause a rapid blood sugar level rise that later leads to craving more sugar.
If fruit won't cut it, you can still have desserts. Try to sweeten recipes with natural whole foods instead.
If fruit just won't cut it and you want dessert, that's OK! But go with natural sweeteners over artificial or refined ones.
Reason 4: You're Eating Too Much Junk Food
It turns out that it's not only misery that loves company — cravings love it, too. The more junk food you eat, the more your body craves. If you've accustomed your body to sugar and high-fat foods, your brain's reward system will keep sending you signals that it wants more and more.
How to Unhook from Junk Food
Eat whole plant-based foods and wait two weeks for your taste buds to reset.
I know, not what you wanted to hear...but look, you can do anything for two weeks, right? And after two weeks of eating whole food plant-based, you'll start to experience just how delicious (and beneficial) real food really is.
Ready to Jump In?
You don't have to go it alone. MamaSezz is here to help you unhook from sugar, fat, and processed foods. Join us for our 2-Week Whole Food Plant-Based Detox and Reboot and get ready-made, hearty, and delicious plant-based meals delivered to your door. Lose weight, sleep better, reduce stress, beat inflammation, and finally unhook from those junk food cravings. Sign up today.
Rafaela Michailidou is a Vegan Lifestyle Coach, and a freelance health and wellness content writer, with a Plant-Based Nutrition Certificate from the T. Colin Campbell Center for Nutrition Studies.