We may never know what came first, the chicken or the egg but we definitely know what comes after a plate full of chicken biryani – Gulab Jamun (or Ice-cream Sundae as you prefer). Admit it, after a heavy and spicy Indian meal, nothing feels better than a warm Gulab Jamun or a spoonful of ‘Death by Chocolate’ melting off in your mouth! Feels heaven, doesn’t it? Ever wondered why you have this craving despite feeling full and how can you control it? Stay with us and read on.
Why Do We Have Sugar Cravings?
Be it weddings or dinner parties, any gathering of a large number of Indians would inevitably be followed by the wholesale ordering of Gulab Jamuns and Ice Creams, much to the consternation of the poor host. Wonder why people have such strong sugar cravings after a heavy meal? Well, here are a few reasons:
Old habits: One of the biggest reasons of this sugar craving is purely psychological! Indians in general, have always associated the end of a meal with the consumption of something sweet and as such have come to associate the end of a meal with the consumption of something sweet.
Digesting the heavy meal: After a particularly heavy meal, the first thing the body does is digest the food that is consumed. This requires a lot of energy, this causes the body to crave for an energy spike which it gets from sugar which is an easy source of energy and thus, the yearning for desserts.
Increased production of Serotonin: One of the other reasons include the increased production of serotonin. Serotonin, a neurotransmitter associated with elevated moods. The consumption of sugar or sugary desserts is said to enable an increased production of serotonin thus producing the calming and satisfactory feeling in the mind.
Unbalanced meals: Sometimes, if the meal was unbalanced with a lot of carbohydrate-rich foods, your blood sugar levels shoot up followed by a sudden drop after the meal. To compensate for this drop, the body starts clamouring for sugar.
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While you may be enjoying your desserts, the fact is, your indulgence is probably doing your body more harm than good. The consumption of too much sugar is often associated with excess weight gain, cardiovascular diseases, speeding of the ageing process, increased hypertension and even mood swings.
How to Avoid Sugar Cravings?
Well, now that you are aware of the cause and the effect, let’s have a look at what you can do to stop these cravings.
Balance Your Meals: Make sure your meal has more complex carbohydrates like rice, vegetables, oats, beans, lentils, and others. Adding protein and fibre also helps. Food items which do not cause a spike in your blood sugar levels are a great way to reduce the sugar cravings. Avoiding food with high salt content also helps.
Be Mindful of Your Sugar Craving: As stated above, sugar cravings are most commonly associated with old habits. Especially in India, where we have a tradition of ending meals with something sweet. If you are on diet, try not to cut down sugar completely. The body needs sugar and it’s completely natural to crave for sugar after a meal. While it would be near impossible to eliminate the desire from our minds completely, some of the other steps can be identifying the triggers for the cravings and substituting unhealthy sources of sugar for healthier alternatives like honey, dark chocolate with above 85% cocoa, yoghurt among others.
Drink Water After A Meal: Drink some water after a heavy meal. The craving for sugar might also occur if your body is dehydrated. Making sure that your body remains hydrated will go a long way to cut down the sugar cravings.
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Some Unknown Tips And Tricks
Few unknown yet perfectly workable tricks include brushing your teeth after meals, chewing sugar-free gum can also help avoid sugar cravings. Adding some sweetness to your breakfast in the form of honey or fresh fruit too can help reduce your body’s sugar cravings throughout the day.
Many people, especially those on diet, feel guilty after indulging in their overwhelming cravings for sugar. Rather than feeling guilty, if people followed the simple tricks stated above, not only will your body be thankful to you in the run, but also your host for saving them a considerable amount of their wedding budget!