5 Surprising Causes of Menopause Sugar Cravings

5 Surprising Causes of Menopause Sugar Cravings

5 Surprising Causes of Menopause Sugar Cravings

Do you find yourself with more sugar cravings now than you did in your twenties? You might blame it on menopause.

Who would have thought that the urge to reach for a chocolate bar was a result of your body compensating for changing hormonal levels!  So what else do you need to know about the causes of sugar cravings, and what do you do to manage them?

Causes of Menopause Sugar Cravings


1. Hormonal Imbalance

Hormone imbalance plays a role in menopause sugar cravings. For example, changes in estrogen and progesterone levels influence the stress hormone cortisol. When cortisol levels rise, it creates a surge of energy in the body that increases the appetite. What’s more, the anxiety created by elevated cortisol is known to trigger cravings specifically for sugary, fatty, and salty food.

Disrupted cortisol levels can also result in poor sleep, which further influences sugar cravings. Poor sleep has an impact on the hormones that regulate hunger and satiety, resulting in overeating and eventual weight gain.

The sex hormones estrogen and progesterone also affect how your body responds to insulin, which is responsible for regulating blood sugar levels. When these hormones are unbalanced, blood sugar fluctuations cause sugar cravings.

2. Magnesium Deficiency

Foods high in magnesium

A magnesium deficiency may manifest in some people as a persistent sugar craving. Magnesium is an essential mineral involved in many systems that regulate life-essential reactions in the body, and one of them is blood glucose control.

Some people may experience sugar cravings when deficient in this mineral since magnesium is essential for energy production. Therefore, the lack of magnesium in these individuals may result in the craving for sugar which, once processed, becomes the basic energy source for all cells in the body.

How Much Magnesium Do You Need in Menopause?

The recommended dietary allowance (RDA)—in other words, the daily intake sufficient to meet the nutrient requirements of 97%-98% of healthy women between 40 and 50 years of age—is 320 mg.

You may need a supplement for magnesium, but it’s generally relatively easy to get from food sources—particularly food that is high in fiber. Some nutritious food sources include dark leafy greens; fruits such as apples, bananas, and watermelon; beans and edamame; nuts; fish including halibut and salmon, whole grains; and cocoa and dark chocolate

3. Unhealthy Gut


It’s no secret that a healthy gut will help curb sugar cravings, and the reason why is straightforward: bad gut bacteria feed on sugar. Therefore, the more bad bacteria living in your gut, the more sugar cravings you may experience. 

But how does an excess of bad bacteria take over your gut? It could be due to several causes, like an unhealthy diet, incorrect antibiotic use, lack of probiotic consumption, unattended bacterial infections, and chronic diseases such as IBS and IBD, among others.

You can improve your gut health by eating more nutrient-dense foods and foods that are high in fiber and by decreasing your intake of sugar and processed food.

The process of change takes time and patience. It’s recommended to start by making one change at a time in order to sustain a new and healthy lifestyle.


How can you improve your gut health? One effective way is by consuming probiotics. These healthy bacteria can help restore the imbalance in your gut, leading to better overall gut health, and as a result, fewer sugar cravings. 

You can find natural sources of probiotics in foods like: 

  • Kimchi
  • Plain yogurt
  • Sauerkraut
  • Sourdough bread
  • Tempeh

Read more about how to heal your gut here.

4. Dehydration

Sometimes it’s easy to confuse dehydration with hunger. Many times, the reality is that you don’t need to eat that stack of chocolate chip cookies. In reality, you’re just dehydrated and need a refreshing cup of water. 

Sugar cravings can be associated with thirst due to dehydration. When your body is dehydrated, the liver cannot produce glycogen (the body and brain’s main source of energy). This causes the body to crave sugar because it’s in a state where it needs glucose and water to produce glycogen. To prevent these sugar cravings, it’s essential to stay hydrated.

According to the U.S. National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine, it’s recommended that the average adult female should drink about 11.5 cups (2.7 liters) of water per day. This is because people typically get about 20% of their fluid needs from food. However, the rest is dependent on drinking water or water-based beverages. 

Other clear physical signs which may indicate that you are dehydrated:

  • Dark urine
  • Dry mouth, lips, eyes, or skin
  • Dizzy or lightheadedness
  • Fatigue
  • Extreme thirst
  • Less frequent urination
  • Confusion

Don’t like water alone? Don’t worry! Try adding fruit to your water, like berries, kiwi, tangerines, cucumber, and lemon slices. You can also try sparkling water for a refreshing change.

5. Poor Sleep

Lack of good-quality sleep is an uncomfortable symptom that many perimenopausal and menopausal women may experience daily. Lack of sleep may lead to sugar cravings because it alters the hormonal balance relating to hunger and appetite. 

It has been found that restricted sleep can lead to decreased levels of leptin and increased ghrelin levels. This hormonal alteration will lead to increased hunger and cravings for food. Researchers have found that sleep-restricted people consumed fewer main meals and more snacks that are high in carbohydrates, fat, and sugar.

The recommended amount of sleep for an adult is 7-9 hours. Here are some tips to get better sleep at night:

  • Avoid caffeine after 10 am 
  • Limit alcohol
  • Create a regular, relaxing nighttime routine
  • Create a sleep environment that is dark, quiet, comfortable and cool 
  • Wear comfortable pajamas
  • Put your electronics away at least one hour before going to bed
  • Listen to relaxing music or a guided meditation
  • Maintain a regular bed and wake-up time schedule
  • Budget time to sleep
  • Foster healthy pro-sleep habits throughout the day

In Conclusion

While establishing these new habits will help decrease your sugar cravings, you will gain so much more than that. You will also gain a healthier mind and body. To succeed, start tackling either one big item such as sleep or a very simple one, like adding more probiotic foods or taking a probiotic supplement. Then, once you get the new habit down, move to the next. 

For more ideas about how to reduce sugar cravings read 11 tips to cut menopause sugar cravings.

Don’t forget to celebrate each little success!

Registered Dietitians Lizeth Cano and Heidi Druehl. Review and Editing by Dr. Su-Nui Escobar.

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