Sugar anyone? What you need to know about your sugar cravings and how to stop them

Updated: Mar 18

If you have always thought that you have a ‘sweet tooth’ and that is the reason you have sugar cravings I want to tell you that your sweet tooth is not entirely to blame here. Today, I’m taking on adrenaline, the acute stress hormone, to show you how it impacts your daily choices, especially when it comes to what you eat.

We often feel tired, or even exhausted by the end of the day. We may talk ourselves into going to the gym because we need that energy! But too much adrenaline in our system can make us feel flat rather than energized.

What more, we may have unhealthy self-talk especially when it comes to the food we eat, or our emotions can be all over the place and this can have an impact on the decisions we make throughout the day. Especially if we reach for the sugary snacks or not.

So, let’s have a look at the link between your sugar cravings and adrenaline.

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The role of adrenaline

Adrenaline is the short-term, acute stress hormone (while cortisol is the chronic stress hormone), being produced every time your stress response is triggered.

The stress response, also known as the ‘fight or flight’ response, is our body’s reaction to what we may perceive as a threat to our lives. Historically, the threat came from the outside environment such as a tiger, another tribe, or a famine. Today, the threat we perceive is psychological.

It is very important to understand where your stress comes from because this will help you to understand adrenaline production. I am mentioning it because although adrenaline has its benefits, it was designed to last for a short period of time. In today’s world, we are being flooded with adrenaline almost the whole day. And too much adrenaline can alter our lifestyle choices.

Adrenaline’s primary role was to get us into action. And you most likely have it today too. It will ring true to you especially before an important meeting, competition, or an exam you have. But adrenaline should not stay in your system for too long.

As a stress hormone, adrenaline tells your body that your life is in danger. This starts a chain of reactions. Some of them are good such as staying alert, fighting the opponent, or avoiding getting hurt. On the other hand, adrenaline production disrupts the distribution of other hormones which has an enormous impact on all areas of your life.

Don’t forget that adrenaline is being produced during your stress response. This means that adrenaline tells every cell in your body that your life is in danger which means that your immune system or digestive systems stop working.

If you still don’t feel convinced that adrenaline impacts your life, you need to know that adrenaline influences progesterone production. Progesterone is linked to fertility. Think about it, who would want to bring a baby into an unsafe environment?

Sugar anyone?

Adrenaline, when at a normal level, is good for us. On some occasions, it can help us with making a quick decision, sprinting into action, or even motivating us.

But so many of us feel tired but wired. The link between your afternoon sugar drop, pick me up caffeinated drink and a sugary snack goes back to adrenaline. And if you are high on caffeine and glucose (sugar) your judgment may not be the sharpest. You may feel tired, but unable to rest. You may feel hungry, although you have already eaten.

Adrenaline has a snowball reaction.

I hope you remember that the stress response is triggered because your body ‘thinks’ you are in danger. This means that you need the energy to react, and adrenaline organizes that energy for you.

Our body converts energy from either carbohydrates (glucose) or fat. The distribution and effect of glucose are faster. And at the time of danger, you don’t have the time for the fat to give you the energy you need. You need a quick reaction, therefore your body needs to use carbohydrates for energy.

What actually happens is that sugar is being delivered into your bloodstream so you can react quickly. And any sugar which is being used has to be replaced. If you stay in a state of stress for the whole day, your body thinks that you are in danger and would need sugar for quick use. Therefore, it craves carbohydrates which can be quickly converted into energy.

I am telling you this so you can understand that it is not you, your lack of willpower or self-discipline. It is your biochemistry that drives your decisions if in the afternoon you will reach for a cookie or an avocado.

So, rather than fighting biochemistry, you need to fight stress and your perception of stress.


Adrenaline is a very powerful stress hormone. When at good levels, it can motivate you, help you to make a quick decision, and get you into action. But when you live in a constant state of stress, adrenaline will disrupt other hormone production, the functioning of your systems, and the way your body uses energy.

Your body uses either carbohydrates or fat for energy. But if it feels like your life is in danger, carbohydrates become the first choice. And the more glucose (sugar) your body uses, the more you have to replace it, hence the sugar cravings.

It is not easy to always make healthy food choices if your body tells you otherwise. There is no point in fighting against your body’s biochemistry. You need to address the stress in your life to get your adrenaline levels in check.

Are you part of my community? Join HERE my PRIVATE, FREE Facebook Group: Accelerate with Anna Doktor: A Health and Wellness Goals Building Community for the busy professionals to accelerate your health and wellness!

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