It’s not that strange to crave sweets at certain times—we’re looking at you, 4 p.m. energy slump—but sometimes that desire for a treat seems to come out of nowhere. Here are some possible reasons you may find your hand in the cookie jar (and healthier ways to quell the craving).
- You’re sleep deprived. You already know that your brain doesn’t function as well when you don’t get a good night’s rest, and that can translate into your food choices. Researchers at UC Berkeley found that when you don’t sleep well, you’re more likely to give in to primal desire, rather than making complex, reasoned decisions (hello doughnut, adios broccoli). Plus, a recent study from Kings College in London found a direct correlation between increased sleep and reduced sugar intake.
Fix it: Aim to get 7 to 9 hours of sleep per night consistently.
- You’re dehydrated. Score another point for H2O. Along with helping boost digestion and metabolism, maintain body temperature and blood pressure, and fight illness, staying hydrated can keep sugar cravings at bay. But getting enough water can be challenging, especially if you’re running around all day (who isn’t?).
Fix it: Sip water regularly throughout the day. Keep a reusable bottle on hand and filled, and set reminders on your phone if you tend to forget to drink up. We also love Liquid I.V., a non-GMO electrolyte drink mix that you pour into 16 ounces of water. Just one Liquid I.V. can provide the same hydration as drinking 2-3 bottles of water, hydrating you faster and more efficiently than H2O alone.
- You’re stressed. Sure, you may want to comfort yourself with food after a hard day, but there’s more to it than that. Your body’s hormonal response to stress also can lead to powerful cravings for sweets.
Fix it: Look for other ways to manage stress, such as exercise, deep breathing and meditation.
- You’re nutrient deficient. Several nutrients are linked to sweet cravings, including magnesium, calcium, zinc, chromium, and omega-3 fatty acids.
Fix it: Talk to your doc or a naturopath to find out how to pinpoint deficiencies and healthy ways to fill in what you’re missing.