What is causing your sweet tooth?
Updated: May 23, 2021
Hands up for who has always preferred the bar of chocolate over the bag of crisps!
I am with you.
I was always the dessert instead of a starter girl, eating sugar cubes out of the bowls in the coffee shops as a child kind of girl. My sweet toothed gang, you would not get a truer member than me.
And although craving those sweet treats and having them definitely plays a part in your overall balanced diet, I want to talk about those sweet cravings that feel unquenchable without sugar, the driving to the petrol station at 11pm at night to get those chocolate bars, the having one donut, and then following it with the rest of the packet, the I eat a really balanced diet but I just can't seem to kick these constant sugar cravings
But could there be something driving these excessively sweet cravings?
Signs of an excessive sweet tooth
- Bingeing consistently on highly processed, sugary foods
- Energy dips (especially in the afternoon)
- Poor energy
- Mood swings
- Craving simple carbs (bread, pasta, rice, potatoes)
- Using sugary foods as a reward
- Secret stashes of sweet foods
- Struggle to stop
But what is causing all of these signs? Well there are a few possibilities...
Blood Sugar Balance
Poor blood sugar balance is a chief suspect for these intense sugar cravings.
Balancing blood sugars literally does what it says on the tin, it is the process of keeping the amount of glucose circulating in your blood at any one time level and constant.
Your blood sugars have a major impact on things like energy and cravings as well as having long term effects on conditions such as heart disease, blood pressure and type 2 diabetes.
Often with poorly balanced blood sugars, we will see or experience this cycle:
We start the day off with a high sugar/carb breakfast or a cup of coffee on an empty stomach
Blood sugars instantly increase giving us that burst of energy first thing (this is the peak)
An hour or so later our blood sugars crash as the simple carbs and caffeine wears off
This leaves us in a low energy slump, unable to concentrate or be proactive
We reach for whatever will give us a rush of energy (usually caffeine or sugar)
And so the cycle continues throughout that day and even into the evening.
Poorly balanced blood sugars and this cycle seen above is very common and a huge driver for our sugar cravings. It leaves us constantly in need and reliant on sugar to give us that energy high and comfort that we need to help us get through the day.
But then you say to me, 'Joy, this isn't me. I try really hard to avoid high amounts of refined sugar and this cycle does not sound like me.' This is when we look at another component, candida.
Candida is a type of fungi that is present in all of our guts in varying amounts and can live happily causing no problems with the rest of our bacteria. What we look when it comes to excessive sugar cravings is a candida overgrowth or candidiasis. Candida is the master behind fungal toenails, thrush and certain skin rashes. It can also be the driver of much more serious infections.
Candida feeds off sugar.
When we eat an excess of simple sugars, the candida that is present in our guts then feeds off of it, making it grow and leaving us susceptible for an overgrowth, or candidiasis. It also causes imbalances in our gut microbiome, making it harder for the good bacteria to fight back.
You are more at risk of developing candida overgrowth if:
You have weakened immune system, for example AIDS, cancer patients or poorly controlled diabetes
Prolonged antibiotic use
An imbalance in gut bacteria (microbiome) or leaky gut
There is also research linking candidiasis to PPIs (proton pump inhibitor) use, but the reason behind this is unsure
Symptoms of candida overgrowth
Symptoms can vary but may include:
Itchy red rash, often in skin folds
There are of course other options for candidiasis such as parasites (don't worry, they sound scarier than they are), magnesium deficiency, stress relief, comfort and many more. That is why I work on a one-to-one basis with my clients, checking in with them weekly to see what is working for them, what is not and how I can best help them in the ways I know how.
The importance of functional testing
Many health conditions are not exactly what they seem and this is where functional testing comes in handy.
For example, a broken arm needs plaster, that's a cert, but what if someone has a great balanced diet but is still experiencing intense sugar cravings and fatigue? We need to be able to find what imbalance is causing these symptoms in order to correct it, and that's when we refer to functional testing.
Functional testing is basically independent tests that allow nutritional consultants (like myself) and other practitioners to understand what is going on on a deeper level.
Interestingly, the most commonly requested functional test is a stool test (stay with me now). A simple stool test can tell us a massive amount about what is going on in our bodies, like whether we have a candida overgrowth or what the balance is between good and bad bacteria is in your gut.
Funnily enough, a stool test could just be the thing that is standing in the way of your sugar cravings, it is that crazy.
If you want to find out more about getting a stool test, you can find my blog could a functional test be the answer to my sugar cravings, and if any of what I have mentioned today resonates with you, please do not hesitate to book in for your free 15 minute meet & greet here - I would love to talk to you more about it.
Thanks for reading!