Eat Fat to Stop Your Sugar Cravings?
By Joan Kent, PhD
Have you ever had a sugar craving – one that made you go off your healthy diet? Dumb question, right? Many people claim that sugar cravings never go away, but they absolutely can and do. Completely.
Why shouldn't we simply eat sugar? Well, it lowers our quality of life in several ways. One is our health. The high insulin triggered by sugar promotes inflammation, medically recognized as the root cause of most, if not all, disease.
As covered in a previous post, sugar affects food intake, too. It increases appetite by inhibiting the brain's satiety center, and it changes food preferences, prompting the desire for foods high in sugar and/or fat. Both of these effects are linked to the brain's release of endorphins (beta-endorphin).
What's with Sugar Cravings?
A craving is an intense urge or desire to eat a food. Sugar cravings are among the most common. They're not the same as hunger.
Some people can indulge their cravings without repercussions. For others, giving in to cravings can undermine workouts or lead to weight gain, mood swings, diabetes or other health issues.
We typically hear that cravings result from low blood sugar, emotions, or biological need. How accurate are those explanations?
You can crave sugar after a full meal, so low blood sugar is not the only reason for the craving.
Emotions can bring on cravings but are certainly not the only triggers. I used to work for a weight-loss company that insisted that people ate either because they were physically hungry or because they had an emotional craving. It was and is a myopic view of cravings.
As for biological need, we may need other foods – say, salt – for biological reasons. But sugar is definitely not in that category.
Here's one real reason for sugar cravings.
Too Little Fat
Science journals refer to the sugar/fat seesaw, an inverse relation in the fat and sugar we eat. As one decreases in the diet, the other increases.
Fats help us control sugar cravings in 3 ways.
They do stabilize blood glucose, so there's that.
Fats also change our hormones. When fat enters the small intestine, the hormone cholecystokinin (CCK) is released. CCK reduces hunger,appetite and the desire for carbohydrates. Yet when someone is on a low-fat diet, less CCK is released, resulting in a desire for more food, mostly carbs.
But how does sugar enter the picture? That's about brain chemistry.
The brain releases endorphins when we eat sugar or fat, and we become accustomed to our usual endorphin level. A low-fat diet decreases endorphins, making the brain want endorphin-triggering foods. That may lead to either fat or sugar cravings.
If you won't eat fats, the sugar cravings will take over.
To help you keep sugar cravings under control, eat healthful fats with all your meals.
If you feel stuck with sugar cravings or have had trouble quitting sugar(!), just visit www.LastResortNutrition.com and grab your free Craving Crusher Consult. Find out other simple ways to help you move forward and escape sugar's grip. The health and energy boosts you'll feel are only part of the freedom you'll enjoy!