Damn you, sugar…why do we crave you?

We crave sugar for two reasons. Firstly, because of what sugar does to our bodies and minds. And, secondly, because sugar is everywhere. Let’s focus on the human aspects for now.

And in the beginning… there was dopamine
Biologically, you crave sugary foods all thanks to a little chemical called dopamine. You’ve probably heard about dopamine as the brain’s pleasure chemical, but it also has a huge impact on your motivation. Originally, we simple humans evolved to have this mechanism to keep us alive, but in this modern world of excess, it now works against us.

We evolved with an in-built reward system that drives us to take actions that meet our basic needs. Firstly, to make sure we survive (eating and drinking) and then to make sure the species survives (sex and childcare). Whenever we take these actions, our brains release dopamine making us feel good, which motivates us to repeat them. And the more we repeat them, the more reinforced this routine becomes.

So, when you’re tucking in, you’re really responding to your inherited lust for dopamine, especially when you’re not physically hungry. Your brain doesn’t really need that sugary treat, it wants the dopamine hit it associates with the sugar.

Not all rewards are created equal
We get a much bigger reward when we drink if we’re thirsty or have sugary foods when we’re tired – our bodies recognise the need for energy more in these times.

Plus, have you noticed how it’s hard to just have a few chocolate buttons, even when that’s all you really want? Certain foods give you a bigger dopamine hit. The biggest hit is from the most sugary foods. That means doughnuts, cakes, biscuits, chocolate and ice cream are much more exciting for your brain than apples and carrot sticks.

Intoxicated by this indulgence, your brain tells you to eat more and more…before you know it, you’ve eaten a whole tub of ice cream. Unfortunately, these products make up the majority of the snack industry and are placed in plain sight where our hungry brains are least able to avoid them.

Back then…
For our ancestors, food sources were few and far between, so evolution drove us to eat high-energy foods whenever we could get our hands on them. For them, these sugary treats would be oranges or dates, high in natural fructose.

The problem is two-fold. The sugary treats are everywhere. And instead of fruits, they’re highly processed cupcakes, coffees and sodas. Unfortunately, we still have that same in-built drive to consume consume consume.

Willpower alone isn’t enough
Cravings are not just driven by the primeval need to survive though. Studies show that your willpower is finite. Which is why avoiding sugary snacks is so much harder when you’ve had a tough day at work, you’re juggling a thousand tasks, or you haven’t slept.

We all know we could just stop eating sugar, but once you’ve developed a life-long habit it’s just not that easy to go cold turkey. Breaking the cycle is a challenge few achieve quickly.

Luckily, we’ve heard of a product than can help…

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