It’s no secret…I have always, seriously ALWAYS had a sweet tooth! (Like sneak back into the kitchen and lick all the icing off the cupcakes sweet tooth. 🙈) And I won’t say that I’ve miraculously been cured of my love of sweets. (I still enjoy a good cupcake every now and then.) But I have found a few ways to effectively curb my sweet cravings and figured I’d share with you because I know I’m not the only out there who has struggled slaying the sugar dragon.
What Causes a Sweet Tooth?
Okay, so first things first…Where does that sweet tooth come from anyway? When it comes down to it, there are several different factors involved. Many dietitians believe that the appetite for sweets is hardwired, as the first taste we learn to prefer is sweet. Carbohydrates actually stimulate a chemical reaction in which our body releases serotonin – a chemical that makes us feel good. So there’s that.
But tasting sugar also releases endorphins – another body chemical that helps us feel calmed or relaxed. Essentially, this function of sugar gives us that natural “high.” Not only that, but sweets just generally taste good. So when we eat them, we naturally feel like we’re “treating” ourselves. So a better question might be, why would we not crave sweets?
How Can You Control Sugar Cravings?
The issue with sugar isn’t really that we enjoy the occasional treat now and then. It’s when we over-consume the sugary goodness (you know, like when I sneak back into the kitchen…). And that is easy to do when sugar is not only in sweet treats but also a LOT of processed foods too. On average, most of us over-consume sugar (often without even realizing it) with an intake of roughly 22 teaspoons per day. That’s pretty astronomical over-consumption when the recommended amount of added sugar per day is about 6 teaspoons for women.
So what can you do to control your sweet tooth? Here are a few of my best suggestions:
1. Try fruit instead.
Natural sugar, like that found in fruit, is much easier for your body to process. Plus, it is paired with fiber and other nutrients in fruit. When I feel a craving strike (like wanting a few chocolate chips), I try to go for a handful of blueberries or another fruit instead.
2. Get moving.
Taking your mind off of the craving is another great strategy to implement. Getting moving, whether that is with a formal workout or just a quick walk around the block, is another great alternative to giving into a craving. Plus, that movement will give you a bit of that endorphin kick that your body may also be craving.
3. Eat frequently.
When you aren’t eating frequently enough, it causes your blood sugar to fall, which could result in choosing more sugary, fatty foods to curb your hunger later. Aim for a window of about 3 to 5 hours between snacks or meals to keep your blood sugar levels stable and help reduce your cravings for sugary foods.
4. Track your food intake.
I don’t know about you but the mere thought of having to write down a sugar episode makes me think twice about giving in to the cupcake binge. So making a habit of tracking my food intake is a really great way to curb my sweet tooth. This doesn’t have to be anything extensive either. Just get a small journal or notebook and start writing down each meal. Making a habit of tracking your intake will also help you identify patterns in your behavior. For example, maybe you often go for sweets in the afternoon or after a long day at work. If that’s the case, you can pack a sweet but nutritious snack to ward off the sugar monster at that time of day.
5. Up your nutrient intake.
One of THE single best ways I’ve found to finally break free from the sugar cravings is by really working on my nutrition. I’ve done that by adopting a clean way of eating, but I also give my body all of the nutrients it needs every day in one serving of my favorite superfoods smoothie! It’s crazy what a difference this one change has made, but it makes sense when you think about it…If you’re giving your body what it NEEDS, then it’s automatically going to trigger less cravings and function better!
I used to feel like there must be something wrong with me because I just couldn’t seem to break free from my sugar cravings. And while I was often feeding the sugar cycle, the truth is it’s normal and natural to crave sugar. But the more knowledge you have about any aspect of your health, the better equipped your are to live your best life. So hopefully this shed a little light on the whole sweet tooth issue and gave you a few strategies for taming your cravings too.
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