The Truth behind Sugar Cravings

Few in this world are free of this struggle and battle and are blessed with no special desire for sweets. Some just feel a natural pleasure in a desert or mittai. The rest of us seem to want it after every meal, anywhere, any time and battle with this craving forever.

1. If you are in the habit of skipping your breakfast, you could have a very strong sugar craving starting from 11 am in the morning. If you manage to get by till lunch then the craving starts from about an hour after lunch, gets very severe around 6 pm and then again an hour after dinner, and even till midnight you could be craving sweets.

When we sleep at night we are fasting from about 10 pm to 7 or 8 am. That is a fast of 9-10 hours. The body on rising is craving energy to move and function. Sugars take 20-45 minutes to be digested whereas starches which come from bread, roti, rice, etc. take 1-2 hours to get digested. The brain and the body know this so when the breakfast meal, which is supposed to give 30-40% of the days total food intake, is not given, then the whole day the brain and body are trying to send a message to us to try and make up this supply and do it fast, so naturally the message is “Please eat something sweet”. The same happens for any meal that you skip. We are supposed to consume 40% of the days total calorie intake with bed coffee/tea/milk plus breakfast plus a 11 am fruit. Then 40% should be supplied at lunch, tea, plus a 6 pm fruit. At night when the body is done with the days work and preparing to rest we need only 20% for dinner.

2. The second problem is when people don’t eat adequate carbohydrate or starchy food in each meal. Then again the sugar craving sets in. Two slices whole wheat bread or two phulkas (small dry chapattis), two idly or dosa, one cup cereal, ¾ - 1c rice are the bare minimum one should consume in any meal. This quantity may be increased according to each individuals need, exercise regimen, work schedule, etc., but it surely cannot be reduced further than this for any adult. Even if we are laid up in bed we need at least so much carb daily in all 3 meals to keep the basic metabolism up. When we reduce this to either 1 slice of bread or 1 small roti or we don’t eat the carbohydrate in any meal, then surely sugar cravings will start.

3. The third factor is the carbohydrate, protein balance in every meal. Carbohydrate food gets digested in 1-2 hours, whereas proteins (dhal/ pulses, milk/curd, egg, non-veg) are digested in 3-4 hours. So if your meal is only fruits you may start craving for sweets, 45 minutes after your meal. If your meal is only cereals or crabs e.g. – bread and jam or roti and tomato chutney it will be digested in 1-2 hours and you may crave sugar thereafter. If your lunch or dinner is only boiled veggies, only soup and salad, roti and sabji, pasta and veggies, lemon rice, all these are only carbs. We must have a glass of skimmed milk and /or a boiled egg with breakfast. We must have dhal/pulses and /or if possible curd or non-veg with lunch and again dhal is a must with dinner or at least some egg white or pulses must be eaten with dinner to provide protein.

4. Some people decide to completely avoid regular sugar in their coffee/tea/milk and use sweeteners in order to control their weight. If you are a diabetic then you have to avoid adding sugar completely. Otherwise you are permitted to use 2-3 teaspoons of sugar daily, one teaspoon at a time in coffee/tea, etc. Avoiding this may lead to a sweet craving. Each sweet may contain 3- 8 spoons of sugar.

5. Many eat sweets as a comforter. This is extremely dangerous as the stress and tension keeps increasing and your need for comfort increases. You may eat sweets in unbelievable quantities and end up with a sweet addiction, obesity and may be even diabetes.

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