What the Yuck: Do sugar cravings signal diabetes?
January 14th, 2011
02:10 PM ET

What the Yuck: Do sugar cravings signal diabetes?

Too embarrassed to ask your doctor about sex, body quirks, or the latest celeb health fad? In a regular feature and a new book, "What the Yuck?!," Health magazine medical editor Dr. Roshini Raj tackles your most personal and provocative questions. Send 'em to Dr. Raj at whattheyuck@health.com.

Q: I've been craving sweets lately - could that mean I have diabetes?

A: Nope. Craving sugar is not one of the symptoms of diabetes, or hyperglycemia (too much blood glucose). Symptoms to look for are frequent urination, excessive thirst, fatigue, weight loss, and blurry vision.

If you skip meals often you may be experiencing hypoglycemia, or low blood sugar. When your blood sugar starts to dip, you naturally long for a sugary snack to get it back up. But the body processes sugar fast, so the energy surge quickly wears off and you're left craving another cookie.

Another common culprit? Low levels of serotonin, the brain chemical responsible for making us feel happy. If you have chronically low levels, your sugar yen could be your body's attempt to fix the problem - studies suggest that sugar increases the absorption of the amino acid tryptophan, which the body uses to make serotonin.

The good news: You can break the cravings cycle. First, stick to three or more healthy meals a day - no skipping! Blowing off a meal can cause your blood sugar to drop and your body to seek a solution - like a hit of chocolate or pint of coffee ice cream. Instead, choose good-news fare that keeps you satisfied.

Take a test to see how well you're managing your diabetes

And when you've just gotta have a little something sweet, just go right ahead. If you are at a healthy weight and not under a doctor's instructions to limit your sugar intake, there's really no reason you can't indulge - in moderation, of course!

Copyright Health Magazine 2011

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Get a behind-the-scenes look at the latest stories from CNN Chief Medical Correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, Senior Medical Correspondent Elizabeth Cohen and the CNN Medical Unit producers. They'll share news and views on health and medical trends - info that will help you take better care of yourself and the people you love.