by Anne Baker, http://nourishholisticnutrition.com
Do you crave sweets and not know why? While you may chalk it up to lack of will power there’s probably a more physiological reason you keep reaching for sweet tasting foods. Did you ever wonder what these cravings could indicate about your health?
Craving sweets is a problem that so many clients I see struggle with. Here’s three distinct reasons you may be reaching for surgery sweet foods.
1. The Moody Mad Hatter
If you are an individual who tends to leave the house without breakfast, is always in a rush and nibbles all day long on granola bars or fruited yogurts, muffins or candy you are probably in this group. This type of individual also tends to skip meals and doesn’t eat regularly scheduled meals. It’s also likely you become moody, crabby, short tempered or have difficulty concentrating when you go too long without eating.
Your problem is likely blood sugar dysregulation .
The reason you reach for surgery and often fast acting, high carbohydrate snack foods is because your blood sugar is getting too low. When this happens you need a fast pick me up and your go to foods are sweet foods that act quickly to increase your blood sugar. This yo-yo effect on your blood sugar causes mood swings, difficulty in making decisions and alternating bouts of hyperactivity or nervousness with fatigue.
Many who find themselves in this cycle are actually sugar sensitive.
A sugar sensitive person reacts more intensely to eating sugar so blood sugar levels rise higher and faster than in other people. This causes a release of adrenalin because the body interprets this high surge of blood sugar to be that you’re in physical danger (ie: flight or fight response). The adrenalin signals the pancreas to release insulin – actually more than you need. The body thinks you need this amount to get the sugar out of your blood and into your cells in order to sustain your energy to the flight or fight response. As the sugar is removed from the blood the “rush” of sugar high is quickly replaced by the crash of your rapidly lowered blood sugar level. 
1) Get your fasting blood sugar checked to see if you have a dysregulation issue. You could be on the verge of becoming insulin resistant (pre-diabetic) or have hypoglycemia (low blood sugar) or even Type II diabetic. So this is nothing to fool around with!
~ Getting an A1C done is also a good idea as this test reflects your average blood sugar level for the past two to three months. The A1C test measures what percentage of your hemoglobin — a protein in red blood cells that carries oxygen — is coated with sugar (glycated).
2) If you are pre-diabetic, hypoglycemic or certainly if you are found to be Type II diabetic you need to immediately begin making specific nutrition and lifestyle changes. Doing so will help you avoid those prescription medications.
3) Have your thyroid and adrenal gland evaluated. People who are under long term stress may also be sugar sensitive and react with periods of fatigue they try and relieve with sweet foods.
4) Start eating a good quality breakfast with PROTEIN every day and eat regularly scheduled meals (not snack foods!). Build meals around low glycemic vegetables, high quality protein, healthy fats and a small amount of whole gluten free grains. Eating a lower carbohydrate diet is also important.
2. The Funky Gardener
People who fall into this group feel an almost uncontrollable desire to eat sweet foods including what most people consider healthy foods such as fruits. Even these “healthy foods” like bananas, melons, dried fruits and starchy vegetables like carrots, corn, peas, beets and winter squashes are high in natural sugars. If you need condiments loaded with sugar on your burger, chicken or with those fries you probably have a nice garden of yeast growing somewhere! You are actually feeding an organism in your body called yeast/Candida.
It’s not your fault you crave these foods! It’s actually the Candida that is screaming to be fed.
Many people with candida overgrowth have a white coat on their tongue, or nail fungus, or acne, psoriasis or other chronic skin condition. You may also notice you have trouble focusing and making decisions, feel emotionally depressed or anxious. Other common signs of Candida being the reason for your sugar cravings include; itchy eyes, sinus issues, seasonal allergies, frequent illness and genital itching.
1). It’s vital that you get a professional assessment of your microflora done to determine if you are afflicted with Candida. Candida is believed to be linked a number of serious health conditions from diabetes to cancer. I strongly urge you to read THIS POST that goes into greater detail about Candida.
2) Begin the step by step yeast clearing process. Unfortunately, many people have systemic Candida but do not understand they must approach this problem systematically or it will continue to be a plaque on their good health.
3). Before you do anything you must change your eating habits and stop eating foods that feed yeast. If you don’t do this the yeast will continue to thrive. Once you remove foods that feed this organism you’ll want to replace them with foods that inhibit yeast from growing.
4) You’ll also need to kill the yeast to get their numbers down with some kind of anti-fungal product. I prefer herbal anti-fungals to prescription medications because prescription medications are harder on the liver. Herbal anti-fungals are also very effectively when taken correctly through a YEAST CLEARING PROTOCOL I have been using successfully with my clients for many years now.
5) You’ll’ want to make sure you repair damage from leaky gut and restore beneficial microflora to the improve your digestive process too so you can properly absorb nutrients and strengthen your natural immunity.
3. Looking for love in all the wrong places
Reaching for sweets is something many people do when they feel lonely, unhappy or in need of emotional support. If this sounds like you then you could be using sweets to fill an unmet need for emotional comfort and love.
There is also a physiological reason sweet foods (and carbohydrate foods that also break down into sugar rapidly) seem to sooth us when we feel this way. Refined sugar is far more addictive than cocaine– one of the most addictive and harmful substances currently known.
A chemical in our brains called beta endorphins are a big reason why so many people who are depressed or lonely crave sweets. Beta endorphins ease emotional and physical pain and are in a class of neurotransmitters known as endogenous opioid’s. These chemicals (sugar is one of them!) have an opium like effect on our brains so they not only make us feel better temporarily but they are also very addictive. If you tend to turn to sweet foods for emotional comfort you probably have low levels of beta endorphins.
1) Do a pantry sweep and remove sweets and packaged foods from your immediate surroundings including at work and in your car and any other “secret hiding places” you have these foods stored.
2) Keep a log of what you are eating for 2 weeks. Note your emotional state when you experience intense cravings or reach for sweet foods.
3) Try these (non-food) coping alternatives when you crave sweets.
~ Create a collage using words you find in magazines or images that express how you are feeling when you reach for sweet foods. Then create one that reflects how you feel when you are confident, loved and supported. Hang them side by side somewhere you see these each day. Next time you feel like reaching for a sweet food reflect on why and see if you can shift those feelings to being proactive.
~ Write down those experiences that make you feel powerless, unhappy and unloved on a sheet of paper. Now rip up that paper and consider how that makes you feel.
~ Other ideas are to listen to some of your favorite music, take a walk or do some other form of exercise that gets your feel good endorphins working.
4) Specialized testing to uncover nutritional imbalances or amino acid deficiencies is also helpful. Once these are revealed and addressed many people find their cravings are much easier to control.
Keep in mind that it’s also quite possible that you may fit into more than one of these types. In that case this may make it difficult to determine how best to approach the problem.
Resources and further reading:
 Nancy Appleton, Ph.D Author of the book Lick The Sugar Habit
The Sugar Addicts Total Recovery Program by Kathleen DesMasions
The Healing Place in Medfield specializes in helping clients with chronic digestive disorders, chronic pain and balances hormones naturally. If you would like to schedule a FREE 60 minute consultation, please call 508 359-6463 or visit our website at www.healingplacemedfield.com
For the Healing Place Medfield’s free report “Proven Alternative Ways to Heal Common Chronic Digestive Problems: What Your Doctor Doesn’t Know Can Keep You From Healing” click here.