Sugar cravings can plague people of all ages, but seniors often struggle with them more, even if they never had much of a sweet tooth earlier in life. If you’ve been having difficulty resisting the urge to indulge in sweets, it might be for one of the following reasons. Read on for brief explanations on some common causes for sugar cravings and how you can control them.
Changing Taste Buds
Sometimes sugar cravings are just a matter of taste. Your taste buds change throughout your life, and the older you get, the weaker your sense of taste tends to become. Many foods may start to taste blander, but sugary sweets have a strong flavor that remains delicious even when veggies and other savory foods may lose their appeal.
The good news is that there are plenty of ways to satisfy your urge for dessert without resorting to cake and ice cream. Fruits give you the sweet taste you desire without the negative impact on your health. Next time you’re starving for a sugary snack, try indulging in a fruit salad, smoothie, yogurt, or applesauce.
Vitamin and Mineral Deficiencies
It’s also possible that when you think your body is telling you to eat more sugar, it’s actually telling you that you need something else. If you’re low on iron, you’ll find yourself feeling sluggish and fatigued, and you’ll feel the need to eat something that will boost your energy. Deficiencies in calcium, zinc, chromium, and magnesium can also make you crave sugar, when the real problem may be that you’re dehydrated.
Sometimes, a vitamin or mineral deficiency can be resolved by taking supplements every day or incorporating more foods into your diet that are rich in the nutrients your body lacks. And, of course, be sure to drink plenty of water throughout the day.
We’re all familiar with the concept of ‘comfort food,’ so it makes sense that sugar cravings can occur due to stress. When you’re feeling grumpy or irritated, your blood sugar levels can decrease, and your first instinct is often to reach for something sweet to make you feel better. This indulgence might bring temporary pleasure, but it isn’t getting to the root of the cause.
If you’ve been finding yourself feeling stressed lately, there are plenty of methods that you can try to relieve mental tension. Light exercise, soothing music, deep breathing techniques, and pleasant scents can all help stabilize emotions for a healthier, happier you.
Failing to get enough sleep at night is bad for your health in general, but you probably didn’t know that it can also increase sugar cravings. In addition to causing stress, a lack of sleep affects hormone levels in a way that makes you hungrier, and the sleepier you are, the less inclined your brain is to make good decisions about how to address your hunger.
If you’ve been tossing and turning a lot at night, you can help your body sleep better by investing in higher quality bedding, turning off electronics before lights-out, staying active during the day, and eating healthier to end the self-perpetuating cycle of sugar cravings.
If you aren’t craving sugar for any of the above reasons, the problem may be something you can’t take care of through lifestyle changes alone. Diabetes, autoimmune diseases, gastrointestinal disorders, and various other health issues can influence cravings in a way that’s hard to manage on your own. Your body may be trying to send you an important message, and you shouldn’t ignore it.
The next time you visit your doctor, be sure to mention that you’ve been experiencing sugar cravings that won’t go away. These cravings might be a sign of an underlying health problem that your doctor can help you manage.