In her article “13 Ways to Fight Sugar Cravings” on Nourish by WebMD, Wendy C. Fries asks, “Does that morning Danish pastry leave you craving another treat 2 hours later? Do you grab a candy bar to cope with your afternoon slump — and then reach for a cola to get out of your post-slump slump?
“If you’ve found that munching sugary snacks just makes you crave more of them, you’re not alone. Eating lots of simple carbohydrates — without the backup of proteins or fats — can quickly satisfy hunger and give your body a short-term energy boost. But they almost as quickly leave you famished again and wanting more.
“Why Do We Crave Sugar?
“There are many reasons why we go for sweet things.
“That appetite may be hardwired. “Sweet is the first taste humans prefer from birth,” says Christine Gerbstadt, MD. Carbohydrates stimulate the release of the feel-good brain chemical serotonin. Sugar is a carbohydrate, but carbohydrates come in other forms, too, such as whole grains, fruits, and vegetables, which have fiber and nutrients your body needs.
“The taste of sugar also releases endorphins that calm and relax us, and offer a natural “high,” says Susan Moores, a registered dietitian and nutrition consultant in St. Paul, MN.
“Sweets just taste good, too. And that preference gets reinforced when you reward yourself with sweet treats, which can make you crave it even more. With all that going for it, why wouldn’t we crave sugar?
“The problem comes not when we indulge in a sweet treat now and then, but when we overdo it. That’s easy to do when sugar is added to many processed foods, including breads, yogurt, juices, and sauces. And Americans do overeat it, averaging 17 teaspoons of added sugars per day, according to the American Heart Association, which recommends limiting added sugars to about 6 teaspoons per day for women and 9 for men.”
All that excess sugar has hidden repercussions.
What happens to all that excess sugar?
As food is eaten, digestion breaks food down into simple glucose molecules which circulate in the blood to the cells where it can be utilized.
Glucose, or “blood sugar,” is a simple sugar which functions as the body’s fuel in order to produce energy and heat.
Glucose cannot penetrate the cell wall unless it is attached to molecules of insulin. This is where insulin, which is secreted by the pancreas, “unlocks” your cell walls so the glucose can enter. Insulin’s job then, is to deliver the blood sugar into the cells.
As we eat more sugar and carbohydrates, our body works harder and harder and eventually may not be able to keep up with the overload of sugar. Continual excessive sugar intake means insulin is being pumped into the blood continually. Over time, the cells become resistant to the normal amount of insulin and don’t utilize the sugar. The body’s response to this is to create even more insulin. So, over time there’s more sugar and more insulin in the blood while the cells continue being resistant to utilizing the substance they need to produce energy.
The excessive sugar in the bloodstream then turns into fat, cholesterol and triglycerides.
The health repercussions of this insulin resistance can be hidden but devastating. Insulin resistance can develop into Type 2 Diabetes and result in cardiovascular problems.
The occasional indulgence may be okay, but a constant carbohydrate and sugar laden diet is not.