Why Do We Have a Sweet Tooth?
There seems to be no rhyme or rhythm to the dreaded “sweet tooth.” You’ve had a hearty bowl of oatmeal for breakfast, grilled chicken salad for lunch and a healthy dinner filled with lean proteins, veggies and whole grains. You tell yourself, “I did it! I made all the right decisions today.” And then, your sweet tooth emerges in full force.
Studies show that sugar is highly addictive, and unfortunately, sugar intake makes up a large portion of our calorie intake.
Of course, this is not intentional. In our Western world, the food environment isn’t ideal. Large-scale companies and restaurants make high-sugar foods readily available, and they toss it into to snacks and meals where we least expect it (think cereals, granola bars, oatmeal, etc.).
To make matters worse, our brains have a highly complex reward system. We’re programmed to crave high-fat, high-sugar foods due to certain triggers like sight, smell and other sensory experiences. When we associate a specific sweet food with pleasure, our brains capture that information and signal sugar cravings during times of stress, boredom or celebration.
Healthy Ways to Curb Sugar Cravings
Your sweet tooth doesn’t have to be your Achilles heel. Believe it or not, you can satisfy your cravings and still stay on-track throughout your weight management journey.
Consider these healthy tips:
- Go Natural – Try assorted fruits, home-made smoothies and minimally-processed foods.
- Indulge on Occasion – Moderation is key! Cheat days every so often may be helpful.
- Distract Yourself – Instead of eating, go on a walk, read a book or work on a hobby.
- Drink Water – Your cravings may actually mean you’re dehydrated. Drink up!
- Stay Satiated – Eat small, wholesome meals throughout the day to stay fuller longer.
- Try Gum – Chewing a stick of gum can give you a moderate “sweet kick.”
- Find Support – Turn to a friend or family member when you need that extra boost.
Don’t panic when you’re all of a sudden faced with a sweet tooth that seems unbearable. When you have a plan in place, you’re prepared to make healthy decisions that will benefit your mind and body for the long-term!