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Why Do I Suddenly Crave Sugar?

By Erin Coleman, R.D., L.D.

Overconsumption of sugar may play a role in high rates of obesity and chronic diseases in the United States, according to a review published in 2007 in the “American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.” The American Heart Association recommends that you limit added sugar in your diet as much as possible. There are numerous reasons your body may suddenly crave sugar, however.

Pregnancy in Women

Women who become pregnant may suddenly crave sugar, according to a study published in 2010 in the journal “Appetite.” Researchers who conducted this study found that women with gestational diabetes mellitus may experience more severe sugar cravings -- especially late in their pregnancies. This could be due to hormonal changes associated with pregnancy, related to gestational diabetes or a combination of the two.

Artificial Sweetener Use

If you’ve started consuming artificial sweeteners -- which are calorie-free sweeteners found in diet drinks and candies -- you may experience sudden sugar cravings. A review published in 2010 in the “Yale Journal of Biology and Medicine” reports that although artificial sweeteners don’t contain sugar, they taste sweet -- and thereby encourage sugar cravings and can lead to sugar dependency. Examples of calorie-free sweeteners that may lead to sugar cravings include aspartame and sucralose -- also known as Splenda.

Increased Protein Intake

Eating a high-protein diet may induce sugar cravings, according to a study published in 2012 in “Eating and Weight Disorders.” Researchers who conducted this study found that participants following high-protein diets -- meaning they obtained 25 percent of their calorie intake from protein -- experienced increases in sweet cravings six and 12 months into their diet program. But reducing your overall daily caloric intake does help reduce cravings for sweets, fats and starches -- according to the same study.

Smoking Cessation

If you’ve recently quit smoking, you may notice a sudden increase in sugar cravings. A study published in 2008 in “Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research” reports that smoking cessation increases the consumption of sweet-tasting foods in animals. The study also reported that in the United States, when people smoke less, their sugar consumption tends to be high and vise versa. Because smoking increases your risk for developing cancer, however, it’s best to avoid cigarettes and other tobacco products.

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