When enough is enough
Found in nearly every processed food, sugar is hard to escape. Food manufacturers know you like it so they put it in their product to “improve” taste. Unfortunately, you’ve grown so accustomed to sweet foods, you crave them when you can’t get them.
Sugar not only tastes good, but it also provides a quick rush of energy and releases endorphins that calm you, causing you to crave more when the natural high wears off. You may find it hard to believe, but some health experts claim sugar is more addictive than hard drugs.
What many people don’t realize is the damage sugar is having on their health. A major contributor to obesity, dementia, diabetes, liver disease, some cancers, and heart disease (not to mention tooth decay), sugar may be slowly killing you.
Know you need to cut back on the sweet stuff, but aren’t sure where to start?
Here are a few ways to manage your sweet tooth.
Understand Your Cravings
Like other drugs, you may crave sugar during certain situations or emotional conditions. You may not even be hungry. Rather, the cravings kick in when you’re bored, happy, stressed, or depressed. How do you feed these emotions? With a dose of sugar. Before trying to control your sugar addiction, it’s important to adopt healthy ways of managing your emotions. Get exercise, practice meditation, listen to music, or talk to a friend. If these methods don’t work, seek help from a professional therapist.
Go Cold Turkey
Some people find that merely cutting back doesn’t do the trick. You may need to cut sugar out completely. Going two to three days without eating any sugar may be what your body needs to detox, reduce your cravings, and retrain your taste buds.
When cookies or candy are sitting in plain sight, it’s hard to resist the urge. Avoid temptation by keeping sweets out of your home altogether. Don’t walk down the cookie aisle at the grocery store. Look the other way when you pass by the vending machine. Ask your family and coworkers to be sympathetic to your efforts. Whatever you’ve got to do, it may be painful now, but the end result will be worth it!
Eat Healthy Meals
Your body starts to crave unhealthy foods when your blood sugar is low. Keep your blood sugar levels balanced by eating at regular intervals during the day. Aim for a source of protein and fiber at every meal and snack to help fill you up and provide lasting energy. Whole grains, fruits, vegetables, and lean proteins are what you should keep on hand for healthy eating.
Have an Occasional Treat
Sometimes enjoying a little of what you’re craving is better than denying yourself completely. Otherwise you may give up on your goal and eat the whole bag of cookies or box of donuts. Indulge in a small serving of your favorite sweet every once in a while. Make it count by savoring each bite.
When the cravings hit and all you can think about is a cold soda or a bar of chocolate, distract yourself. Take your mind off your craving and go for a walk, turn on the radio, drink some water, or call a friend.
Enjoy Healthy Sweets
Unlike added sweeteners, natural sugars are not the enemy. Fruits are naturally sweet and are a healthy option when you’re craving something sweet. A handful of dried fruit, a bunch of frozen grapes, or a few apple slices provide fiber, nutrients, and sweetness.
Many people turn to artificial sweeteners to satisfy their sweet tooth and attempt to avoid weight gain. Studies, however, show the exact opposite is likely to happen, as artificial sweeteners make you crave more sugar and will actually cause you to put on pounds.