Sweet season is upon us and whether you crave sweets or not, this time of year makes staying away from candy, cookies, pies and other sweets especially difficult. If you think you’re alone, you’re not. Almost everyone craves sweets!
Understanding the 5 causes of sweet cravings can make a big difference. Most people think that cravings are a bad thing or a weakness but they are not. Cravings are a message your body sends you when something is out of balance.
5 Causes of Sweet Cravings
1. Water. The #1 cause of sweet cravings is dehydration. Since your thirst mechanism is pretty weak, people often mistake thirst for hunger and eat instead of drinking water. So, when you get a craving, try drinking a tall glass of water first.
2. Dissatisfaction or boredom. Being bored, upset, uninspired or dissatisfied may trigger emotional eating. Eating sweets can sometimes fill the void and make you feel better for a short time but the effect does not last. Try exercising, taking a walk, or calling a friend to pick you up instead of relying on sweets.
3. Out of balance. Certain foods have more yin qualities (expansive) while other foods have more yang qualities (contractive). Eating foods that are either extremely yang like salt or extremely yin like sugar can cause cravings for the opposite quality to maintain balance. If you frequently crave sweets, try reducing your salt intake and see if that helps.
4. Seasonal. Seasonal cravings are common this time of year since the fall leaves and the cool weather are a sign that winter is coming soon and the holidays are almost here. In the spring, people crave detoxifying foods like leafy greens or citrus foods. In the summer, people crave cooling foods like fruit, raw foods and ice cream, and in the fall people crave grounding foods like squash, onions and nuts. During winter, many crave hot and heat-producing foods like meat, oil and fat. Try upgrading the food that you are craving to healthier, seasonal options.
5. Self-sabotage. When things are going extremely well, sometimes we crave foods that throw us off or knock us off track. As a Fort Collins Nutritionist, I often see this with clients who are trying to lose weight. Be kind to yourself and celebrate your progress. Also, try to maintain even blood sugar so eating sweets doesn’t become an emergency.
Instead of depending on processed sugar to satisfy sweet cravings, use the strategies mentioned above and also try adding in more naturally sweet foods to your diet to satisfy your sweet cravings. Emphasize real food nutrition like root vegetables and warming vegetables. Sweet potatoes, carrots, pumpkins, and winter squash are all in season this time of year. Adding in sweet vegetables should help you to crowd out less healthy foods in your diet.