How to Get Rid of a Sweet Tooth And Compromise with Sugar
Americans like sugar…a lot. It’s estimated that we eat 57 pounds of added sugar per year. Added sugar is linked to health problems from dental complications to heart disease. And the more sugar we eat, the more we crave. So what causes sugar cravings in the first place? Read on to find out why you crave sweets, how to get rid of a sweet tooth, and why eliminating sugar isn’t the best approach to your cravings.
What Causes Sugar Cravings?
If you find yourself running for a donut, it has little to do with your inability to control yourself around sugary snacks and everything to do with imbalances in your body. Even habitual sugar indulgence has physical roots.
Here are a few things to consider when looking at how to get rid of a sweet tooth.
It’s a Habit
Like any learned behavior, sugar cravings arise from a stimulus, behavior, and reward cycle.
A trigger, such as a mid-morning slump, leads to eating a sugary snack. The sugary snack produces an immediate reward: you feel more awake and alert. In addition to a brief boost in mental stimulation, your brain releases dopamine, the feel-good hormone.
If you frequently find yourself experiencing mid-morning or mid-day slumps, take a look at your sleep habits. A better night’s sleep may be an essential factor in getting rid of a sweet tooth.
Low levels of Serotonin
Whenever we feel stressed, we feel the effects of low serotonin. When our serotonin levels drop, we crave sugar. Serotonin is linked to a healthy gut, so imbalances in gut health lead to a decrease in the body’s ability to produce the happy chemical.
There is a surprising link between sugar cravings and dietary deficiencies. A magnesium deficiency, for instance, limits your body’s ability to create energy and increases your need for sugar to raise your energy levels. Other mineral deficiencies related to your cravings include iron, zinc, calcium, and chromium.
Hypoglycemia is a medical term describing low levels of blood sugar. Feeling hungry is your body’s signal to your brain that your blood sugar is dropping and needs fuel. You may eat sugary snacks to feel better, especially if you ignore your body’s eating signals.
“Hangry” people are feeling the effects of low blood sugar. This condition is known as reactive hypoglycemia. Being “hangry” causes your body to release cortisol and other hormones as it attempts to restore a natural balance.
How to Get Rid of a Sweet Tooth
If you’re looking for effective ways to get rid of your sweet tooth, it’s essential to understand that sugar isn’t always sugar and isn’t always a bad thing.
The Many Faces of Sugar
Remember that sugar isn’t always “sugar.” It wears many labels, including
Corn syrup, molasses, and honey are a few examples of hidden sugars in packaged food.
Good Sugar vs. Bad Sugar
Not all sugar is bad. Sugar in healthy foods, like your favorite fruits, is combined with fiber to reduce cravings and keep you feeling full.
Refined sugars are the bad players in the sugar world. It’s easy to overindulge in refined sugar because it’s delicious. These are sugars in sodas, candy, and many packaged foods
How Do You Get Rid of a Sweet Tooth?
- Get into the mix: Combine your sugar craving with something healthy, such as a banana dipped in chocolate.
- Choose alternative sweets: Instead of grabbing a candy bar, consider snacking on fruit. You’ll healthily satisfy your craving and increase your fiber and nutrient intake simultaneously.
- Distraction action: Instead of drinking that sugary soda, consider taking a short walk to energize yourself. This healthy distraction will take your mind off snacking while increasing your exercise.
- Chew chew: Chewing a piece of gum has been proven to reduce sugar cravings. Grab some gum whenever you feel the urge to consume a sugary snack.
- Add your own sugar: Packaged products contain enough sugar to give the tooth fairy cavities. You can reduce your sugar intake by sweetening your own foods. No matter how much sugar you add to your food, it will be less than the manufacturer adds.
- Eat regular meals: Get rid of your sweet tooth by starting your day with a nutritious breakfast, supplemented by later lunches and dinners.
- Try eating nuts or seeds: Seeds and nuts are high in protein and fat to keep you feeling full, so they are a great alternative to a sugary snack when you’re hungry.
- Look for healthy alternatives: Unlike artificial sugar substitutes, nutritive sugar alternatives like xylitol and sorbitol are plant-based and healthier than synthetic sugar substitutes.
Why Trying to Eliminate Sugar Isn’t the Best Approach
Even though you’d like to get rid of your sweet tooth, eliminating sugar from your diet isn’t the best approach. Instead, reduce your sugar intake but allow yourself to keep some sugar on the menu. Here’s why:
- Sugar provides valuable energy: Food is your body’s fuel, and sugar is a way to make food more enjoyable. Eliminating sugar altogether may decrease your enjoyment of food, leaving your body deficient in nutrients.
- Eliminating sugar may lead to obsessive food behaviors: When you label sugar as off-limits, you set yourself up for an unhealthy relationship with food. The quickest way to create an obsession about something is to tell yourself you can’t have it. Eliminating sugar creates a feeling of deprivation, which leads to binge eating or obsessively thinking of sugary snacks.
- Sugar-free options aren’t always safe: Artificial sugar substitutes may pose risks to your health. Other sugar-free foods load up on alternate sugars, such as those found in syrups. You may be consuming twice as much sugar when eating sugar-free foods.
Let yourself give in sometimes, but do it in moderation. Instead of getting rid of a sweet tooth completely, look for ways to reduce it. Eat a snack-sized instead of full-sized candy bar, for instance, or sweeten your coffee with half the sugar you typically use.
5 Journeys Creates Customized Meal Plans and More to Help Manage Your Sugar Cravings
Your body is designed to run on a healthy, well-balanced diet. Ignoring your body’s nutritional needs leads to many health issues such as fatigue, weight gain, depression, and brain fog. We can show you how to get rid of your sweet tooth and coexist with sugar without eliminating it completely.
From a comprehensive nutrition assessment to recipes and individualized meal plans, 5 Journeys gives you the tools to create a healthy diet and the support you need to stick with it. Your journey to wellness starts here.