After the journey I have gone through and the experiences I have had myself I truly believe there is 4 main reasons why you crave sugar.
1. Hormonal imbalance
2. Stress, Depression and Anxiety
4. Inconsistent blood sugar levels due to not eating regularly enough and eating the wrong things.
Even as a health and fitness professional I am not perfect and I fight the same temptations as you fight every day.
I used to be so addicted to sugar, chocolate specifically, it was not even funny how much. Even up until the beginning of last year I would need at least a weekly dark chocolate hit. Now I don't crave sweets or chocolate at all. Which makes me celebrate for two reasons as its means first of all I have kicked the addiction and second of all my hormones are balanced.
Now let's go back a few years to 2012. I was in my first few years of being a personal trainer so I was training really hard myself and eating a really clean diet. I would have a cheat meal once every two weeks. Around Christmas time one of my colleagues gave me a 2kg bag of Reece Peanut butter cups. If you don't know what they are they are chocolate cups with peanut butter inside, pictured below. I'm pretty sure I ate the entire bag within just a few weeks. I just couldn't stop eating them once I started. I started off with just one or two a night but the next thing I knew I had to hide the bag in the kitchen cupboard so at least my flat mates would keep me accountable for how many I was eating. Although, I would still get a handful when no-one was around and take them to my room in true addict style. That’s when you know you are addicted when you try to hide it. So in the span of a week I was a full on sugar addict when I wasn't eating it at all before that.
Fast forward a year 2013. When I was training and dieting for my bodybuilding competition I was on a very strict diet for 16 weeks. Now let me tell you, when someone tells you can’t have something all of a sudden you want it and need it so badly. Everywhere I went all I would see is the food I wanted to eat but couldn’t, the cakes I wanted to consume but wouldn’t dare and people all around me eating what I wasn’t allowed to eat. I would dream about extravagant cakes and even had a food wish list that was stored in my phone, photos of all the food I wanted to eat when I finished the dieting and completed the competition. This is why I believe in balance and encourage my clients to do flexible dieting. Cut out everything for a long period of time and you end up binging.
The one thing I was craving at that time was sugar. Turns out my hormones were actually out of balance due to training way to hard, not resting enough, being in a calorific deficit for too long, being on a very strict diet and basically just not listening to my body at all.
The moment I walked off stage in the picture below I ate a full packet of Tim Tams in about 5 minutes (not joking), then we went on to eat pizza and drink wine. When I got home I ate another full block of chocolate to myself. Mind you I had been accumulating all the junk food I wanted to eat in the weeks leading up to the competition and my friends and family also bought me copious amounts of chocolate to reward me for my "success". The next day the binging continued. For a week straight I had chocolate or biscuits after EVERY meal including breakfast. Want to know the quickest way to put on 10kgs in a week? Do that.
Let’s fast forward to now. As you can see I'm not perfect and I can get just as addicted to sugar as you.
So how did I get the point where I don’t crave sugar at all?
The first thing that I did was cut out refined sugar. Which is found in soft drinks, cakes, lollies, sauces, chocolate, alcoholic drinks (especially wine and beer) and artificial sweeteners found in diet products just to name a few. If I had a craving I would eat really dark organic chocolate that were sweetened by dates, honey or things like agave nectar. I would also eat fruit. What this does is satisfies the craving without adding to the addiction. One thing to be aware of too is if you don't eat the obvious chocolate and cakes but have a glass or two of wine a night, that my friend is your sugar intake. I guarantee if you gave up wine for a week you would start to crave cakes and dessert again. You are getting your daily fix of sugar with your glass of wine.
After about two weeks off sugar, your need for it should have decreased. Your body would have gone through a small detox and gotten rid of most of the sugar that was in your system allowing the addiction to subside.
The less you have the less you actually want. It's really the first two weeks that are the worst. Once you get over that hump you are good. The way to maintain it is to eat natural sources of sugar such as honey, fruits, nectars and syrups, although they are all still classified as sugar so overeating it will make you put on weight still. They are not as addictive though which is the main issue when it comes to sugar. Watch your waistline shrink after just a month without it. Get rid of it pronto.