Have you ever noticed that your body craves sugar and carbs whenever you're feeling low and stressed? The image of a sad woman eating ice-cream straight out of a tub might be a cliched one, but it is also backed up by science. According to health experts, humans are hard-wired to seek comfort and relief in moments of stress. This is called homeostasis, which means maintaining a steady state of balance.
“Anything that challenges our state of balance, or any situation of lack, is deemed a stress. This could be hunger, an uncomfortable position, feeling cold, or even wanting to understand something better,” Eva Selhub, former Instructor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School, told Inverse in an interview.
Basically, when our body is stressed, sugary foods tend to provide us comfort, and apparently stimulates the brain's reward centres, releasing feel-good chemicals like dopamine and serotonin. This gives us a temporary sense of euphoria and relief.
As the world is coping with a global health crisis, it is completely normal to feel stressed and have sugar cravings. Your brain is only trying to help you cope up with the uncertainty about the future. And while there is no need to completely cut sugar from your diet at this point, it's best to find a balance because consumption of large amounts of sugar is dangerous for your health.
Because when you eat excess sugar, the extra insulin in your bloodstream can affect your arteries all over your body. It causes their walls to get inflamed, grow thicker than normal and more stiff, which stresses your heart and damages it over time. This can lead to heart disease, like heart failure, heart attacks, and stroke.
And that's the last thing we want to put our bodies through during a pandemic. So the next time you have a sugar craving, here's what you can do.
It's amazing how dehydration can give your body mixed signals. A lot of time you'll find yourself scouring your fridge for something full of sugar and carbs when in reality, all you needed was a glass of water. So the next time you have an intense need to scarf down an entire tub of hot chocolate fudge, try drinking a glass of water instead.
According to a study published in the Journal of Functional Foods, daily intake of small amounts of vinegar reduces blood sugar levels in healthy adults who are at risk of developing type 2 diabetes. To incorporate this into your diet, add one or two tablespoons of apple cider vinegar to a large bottle of water and drink it gradually throughout the day. This will help reduce your sugar cravings to an extent.
Do you know what's sweet and actually good for your body? Fruits! They're loaded with healthy vitamins, minerals and fats--and they're delicious AF! Take advantage of the abundance of fruits available in the summer, and eat one every time you crave some artificial sugar.
A lot of time we tend to get irrational sugar cravings because you eat our meals at irregular intervals. However, your body tends to feel hungry at very specific times of the day--so recognise those times and create a meal schedule as per your specific needs. This could be two large meals a day or small five ones--whatever works for you. When you're eating healthy meals at regular intervals, your body is less likely to demand sugar at odd hours.
Adequate sleep is directly linked to our health, because our body heals and repairs itself when we rest. So if you don't get at least 7 to 8 hours of daily sleep, your daily functions are bound to be affected. One of the side effects is irrational cravings for carbs and sugar. So make sure you get proper sleep daily to keep those cravings in check!
We may be super-mindful about eating healthy meals, but it's what we eat between meals that makes all the difference. If you're gorging on healthy proteins, fibre and fats during your meals but loading up on sugars during breaks, it will derail your health. So instead of eating chocolates or chips between your meals, try adding some healthy snacks like nuts, nutrition bars or fruits.
But remember, balance is the key--so if you find yourself feeling stressed and craving some sugar, cut yourself some slack and eat that bar of chocolate from time to time.
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