The management of diabetes is no easy task, and it takes a dedicated effort with no room for inconsistencies. Maintaining a healthy weight is one of the critical aspects of the management of the condition. However, a factor that often threatens to derail this effort is the constant craving for food. While an urge to eat at regular intervals is not harmful per se, it can be detrimental to a person with diabetes. These urges more often than not entice the individual to consume foods rich in sugar and fats. This results in weight gain that could hamper the efforts taken to control the disease. There is a myriad of reasons that lead to such an intense craving, and identifying and acting on these reasons is a crucial step towards curbing this urge. In this article, we’ll delve into the reasons for this insatiable hunger and the steps to manage it.
Do you have that constant annoying feeling of hunger that refuses to die down? You have had a full meal, and yet the hunger won’t leave you alone? For people with diabetes, not only is this constant craving annoying, but it can be a hindrance to weight loss goals and diabetes management. But what makes a person with diabetes so hungry? The intense hunger associated with diabetes is a defining symptom of the disease and is one of the 3 main signs of diabetes. The medical term used to define this increase in appetite is Polyphagia. When the glucose levels are high, glucose cannot reach cells; hence, your body cannot convert the food into energy. This results in a low level of energy, thus leading to hunger. Eating more food increases blood sugar even more; therefore, the cycle of excessive hunger continues. But why does a person with diabetes crave sugar so much? And how can one stop this urge?
There are many theories floating around the intense sugar cravings experienced by people with diabetes. But have you ever wondered about the medical reasons for sugar cravings? Sugar is addictive and has similar effects to drugs and cigarettes as you face withdrawal symptoms such as depression when you cut it from your diet. The reason why sugar is so addictive is due to a chemical that our brain releases when we consume it.
With every bite of sugary treat or drink, the brain releases the chemical ‘Dopamine’. We start craving sugar to feel that exhilarating sensation that we experience while consuming sugar. So, how do you stop this craving? We’ll talk about ways to control hunger in general and sugar cravings below.
Several factors are responsible for the constant hunger pangs that you experience as a result of diabetes. Once you identify these causes and act on them, it will be easy to control these urges. Those food cravings you have as a diabetes patient are not going anywhere, at least not until you have tried the following methods to curb them. These are some of the simplest tasks that can be inculcated into your daily habits sans any hassle. These tips to curb cravings are worth a shot.
Food cravings are not always a result of hunger; they could occur due to stress or other factors. People who experience anxiety would often resort to consuming chocolates or desserts to deal with the emotion. Find out what causes the trigger and find an alternative solution to deal with it instead of indulging in your favourite treat.
More often than not, the hunger pangs that you experience when you have diabetes are not real. This is a symptom associated with the condition. So, next time you have a sudden craving, distract yourself through some activity that you enjoy and see that “hunger” disappear in an instant.
Your blood glucose levels play a crucial role in your appetite. Diabetes patients are advised by doctors to eat throughout the day, lest there be a dip in the sugar levels. This dip can cause a spike in hunger. So the best way to tackle this problem is to fuel your body throughout the day with small portions of food.
This is a common trick people use to curb that incessant hunger. Water fills up the stomach and gets rid of the excess hunger. Also, at times, the ‘hunger’ could be thirst masquerading as hunger.
The importance of getting proper sleep cannot be stressed enough, for diabetes, obesity or any other condition influenced by weight. A lack of sleep is connected to weight gain as it causes a spike in food cravings. Follow an appropriate schedule of bedtime and get a good amount of shut-eye to avoid that sudden craving.
Many such feelings of hunger can be avoided by eating a well-balanced meal. A meal that has a proper balance of macronutrients such as protein, carbohydrate, fibre and fat is ideal. This kind of meal will keep you satiated for long. Eating healthy and a complete meal keeps those hunger pangs away.
It would help if you learned how to control hunger in diabetes through healthy alternatives for optimal health. All you need to do is swap unhealthy food with a healthy alternative with a similar taste. For example, if you crave something sweet, you can prepare something from a banana and unsweetened yoghurt instead of eating desserts with a high fat and sugar content. You can also have dark chocolates that do not contain sugar.
You are now aware of the steps that need to be taken to curb the craving for foods, often unhealthy. But is there a well-balanced diet plan that could help you achieve that? Below is one such diet plan created by expert nutritionists to help you control those hunger pangs and manage diabetes.
It is no secret that a properly balanced diet is central to your diabetes management plans. A diet that includes healthy whole foods rich in nutrients can help you by providing the daily nutritional requirement whilst keeping you satiated enough to ignore the cravings. By eating these healthy foods, you can avoid consuming unhealthy foods rich in sugar and fats. So still wondering how to control hunger in diabetes? Try out this diet plan tailor-made to meet the needs of a person with diabetes.
A. Methi seeds (Soaked overnight) – 1tsp/
B. Lukewarm water with tulsi leaves – 1 glass
A. Oats porridge – 1 cup/wheat upma with peas – 1 cup
B. Green chutney/Coriander/Tomato – 1 cup
Fruit (1) – Guava/Kiwi/Pears/Pomegranate
A. Clear vegetable soup – 1 cup
B. 2 Chapathi
C. Rajmah/Kadhi/chicken – 1 cup
D. Vegetable salad – 1 (Medium size)
E. Curd – 1 cup (Toned Milk)
A. Green tea/Black coffee – 1 cup
B. Roasted chana – 1 cup/Roasted Makhana – 1 cup
A. 1 Jowar roti/1 Ragi roti
B. Vegetable curry – 2 cups
C. Vegetable salad – 3-4 pieces
A.Thin Buttermilk – 1 glass
Foods to Include
1. Include lots of fruits and vegetables in regular diet
2. Hydrate your body with water (at least 10-12 glasses a day)
3. Include more fibre to avoid cravings
4. Include complex carbohydrates to have satiety
5. Egg white, chicken breast and fish can be included in the diet
6. Almonds, flaxseeds, walnuts, chia seeds, sunflower seeds can be added as a source of healthy fats
Foods to Avoid
1. Refined flour, white rice, bakery foods and Indian sweets
2. Deep-fried foods, red meat, seafood and egg yolk
3. Starchy vegetables
4. Dates, cashew nuts, raisins
5. Avoid reheating/reusing oils
While this diet plan is sufficient to keep you healthy and constant cravings at bay, each individual’s needs might differ. If you are looking for a comprehensive diet plan that meets your requirement, consult a nutritionist to get a complete customized diet plan.
One of the biggest hindrances towards the successful management of diabetes is the constant food cravings; unfortunately, these urges can usually lead to gorging on unhealthy foods. You might crave to consume something that is either rich in sugar or fats. This snacking could be detrimental to your efforts in controlling the condition. Constant eating could result in difficulty losing weight, which is an essential step towards managing the disease. These foods could also result in a spike in blood sugar and other harmful effects on your overall health. Through the steps mentioned in the article above, you can successfully stave off any such craving and diabetes, both under control.
1. How can a person with diabetes stop sugar cravings?
Here are some of the best tips to stop sugar cravings for people with diabetes:
Drink lots of water
Try to distract yourself
Tackle the triggers
2. What foods do people with diabetes crave?
People with diabetes often find themselves craving unhealthy foods that are high in sugar, fats and calories. They would be tempted to binge on desserts and chocolates.
3. Is it normal for people with diabetes to be hungry all the time?
Yes, it is normal for people with the condition to be hungry almost all the time. One of the signs of diabetes is excessive hunger, and it is called ‘Polyphagia’.
4. Is it normal for a person with diabetes to crave sugar?
The craving for sugar is common among people with the condition. Whenever the sugar levels drop, there is a sudden craving for sugar.
5. Do people with diabetes smell?
Since people with diabetes are unable to get energy from glucose, the body burns fat for energy. This creates the buildup of acids called ketones in their body. This may result in a fruity-smelling breath.
6. Do people with diabetes gain weight easily?
Yes. Weight gain is a common side-effect of the condition for people who take insulin.
7. How can I satisfy my diabetic sweet tooth?
Extreme sugar cravings and diabetes go hand in hand. This can often be detrimental to your efforts in managing the condition. But there are several ways to deal with it.
You can choose healthy alternatives to sugar such as fruits
Have an occasional treat within a limit
Plan on including a measured portion of sweet beforehand
8. Do people with diabetes pee a lot?
An excessive urge to urinate is a common symptom of diabetes. In this condition, there is an excess buildup of sugar in the blood, which makes the kidney work overtime to filter and absorb the excess glucose. This leads to constant urination.
9. What should a person with diabetes eat before bed?
A person with this condition must aim to consume something that satiates both hunger and sugar cravings before going to bed. Hence, foods such as roasted chickpeas, a handful of seeds or nuts, and a hard-boiled egg are some of the best options.
10. Do people with diabetes itch a lot?
High blood sugar can cause itchy skin in people with the condition.