We all get a sweet tooth from time to time, but sometimes that sweet tooth or those sugary cravings take over. If you find yourself reaching for chocolate more than usual lately, you could be slightly addicted to sugar.
It can and does happen to people all the time, and the good news is that it is totally manageable and something that can be easily and quickly amended. While you may feel that it is impossible at the moment to give up the sweets, you can do it!
A little sweet treat here and there is fine, but when those sweets start showing up too often, it can be tricky to adjust this pattern. We are going to break down why those sugar cravings could be happening and the effects they’re having on your body that you may not even see yet.
Then we will give you a ton of tips and tricks for kicking those sugar cravings for good. In the beginning, it may feel impossible or painful even to give up the sugar. But after a few days, you’ll notice it’s gotten easier. And after a few months, you won’t even know why you used to eat that junk.
Let’s get started:
Why Am I Craving Sugar?
You may be attributing the current sweet tooth hankering as something seasonal or temporary.
The amount of sugar associated with a serious sweet craving intake is often too much. There are a few reasons that might be behind a love of sugar; you’ll want to consider. No matter where we land, however, it’s not too late to alter our habits if so desired. In fact, we can even start today!
Too Much Salty Food
If you’ve been snacking on chips or salty, processed foods lately, your sweet tooth has probably been raging. This happens due to the high levels of sodium in these packaged or processed foods, which will make your body crave something sweet to balance out the salt.
Even with your favorite restaurants, you may notice that you are heading for dessert no matter how healthy your meal. There is generally a decent amount of butter or salt in even the healthiest dishes, so your body is looking for a sweet complement to all the salt.
Excess of Stress
Eating sugar releases dopamine and serotonin, neurotransmitters that create feelings of happiness and joy. So naturally, when we want to feel good, we turn to sweet and rich foods. Studies show that those with high levels of cortisol crave sugar.
Not Enough Protein
Eating an adequate amount of protein will keep you full, and your body nourished and charged up for the day. Without the proper amount of protein for your body type and weight, you will feel tired and lethargic as your day wears on.
When this starts to happen, your body will try to get energy and stamina from any source it can, and sugar is an easy go-to. It will give you that midday kick but will come with a crash, so don’t give in when possible.
Wrong Food Choices
Eating a large bowl of pasta without any protein to balance out the starch will result in the need for a sweet treat after dinner. Without ample protein or nutrients in your diet, your body won’t have what it needs to stay fueled all day.
Just like the issue with low protein, your body will crave sugar to keep it going after the multiple crashes you will feel from incorrect food choices. This is especially true with kids, as children love carbs. When we allow them to indulge in carbs at every meal, they can’t stay properly energized all day and will beg us for candy and other sweets to keep going.
Old Habits Die Hard
We may have picked up some habits involving sugar when we were younger. Maybe these patterns have basically become second nature at this point in our lives. It can be the hardest to kick these types of habits for a number of reasons.
For one, they’re habits — ingrained behaviors that we don’t even think about before doing. This means we have to retrain our bodies and our minds to actively avoid those sweet treats.
For another, many habits take a few days to weeks to form but months to change. When it comes to breaking a habit, one must first quit and then find a more suitable alternative. You know what they say: Practice makes perfect.
The Negative Effect on Your Brain and Body
While it can be a serious undertaking to train the brain to quit sweets, it is very beneficial to overall wellness to ditch the habit. If you ever find yourself struggling to stay on track with sugar and feel yourself slipping, keep in mind these physical and mental benefits to staying the course. Even more importantly, remember to have compassion for yourself — it’s far more of a try, try again than a do or die.
When it comes to family-wide household changes, it can be harder to control some of the more basic impulses in the younger people in residence. If children are accustomed to a lot of sugar or having a candy bar after dinner, it can be more frustrating trying to break them of this habit.
Heavy reliance on sugar can impact organ health and overall wellness, including skin appearance and hair (accelerated hair thinning is associated with obesity).
Eating too much sugar can also weaken natural immunity. Beyond that, simple carbohydrates and sugar intake (especially simple sugars) can result in long-term health consequences. Sugary foods can result in heart disease or obesity. Over time, sugar consumption may contribute to Type 2 Diabetes.
The longer one allows their body to sustain itself with sugar, the stronger the dependency and addiction. A sugar addiction makes your body and your brain rely on sweet foods; the habit is harder to break the longer it goes on.
Long-Term Cognitive Issues
The longer we allow the need or desire for sugar to continue, the more conditioned our brains become to the effects of sugar. This means that over time, the brain will trigger receptors that will make one believe this sugar consumption is a healthy thing.
In summary, the brain will begin to view this sweet treat as a reward, not a punishment for your body.
How To Curb Sugar Cravings
Now that we’ve reviewed why we don’t need so much sugar, let’s get into some ideas on how to do this.
You may want to employ a few of these strategies together to find the winning combination, or you may want to try them one at a time until you find the optimal routine that works for you. Either way, you should be proud of yourself for making such a serious and beneficial life change.
Aromatherapy is a great way to start training your brain away from sugar. When you use scents and aromas from essential oils, your brain takes these scents and triggers different receptors in your brain. These various receptors in the brain can help keep you on track by keeping those sugar cravings at bay.
Instead of triggering a need for sugar, the right aromatherapy can block that craving and help you opt for a healthier choice.
If you’re looking for the right combination, try out our CravePatch. These stickers go on clothes and are full of eight hours of essential oils, perfect for keeping you on track at even the most stressful moments in your day. Get the whole family involved — kids and adults and everyone in between!
Cover Your Bases
Make sure to eat all the food groups and keep on top of the amount of protein you consume daily. Ensuring that you’re getting the right amounts of whole grains, protein, fruits, and veggies will keep you satiated and energized all day, which will help your brain come off the dependency on those midday sugar rushes.
For example, swap a mid-afternoon donut or similar junk food with something high in protein. Protein (and healthy fats like those in avocados) stabilize blood sugar levels — and satisfy your taste buds. Say goodbye to the crashes that come with blood sugar spikes!
On that subject, let’s talk about cravings:
Cravings, especially food cravings, tend to pop up in emotional moments (including boredom). Food cravings tend to result from a hormone imbalance, usually around leptin or serotonin. These cravings come from the same brain area responsible for memory and rewards — aka pretty powerful stuff.
If you know your triggers, try to avoid them or spot them early. If you’re facing a possibly stressful week or day, take an internal note of what this week will look like and what that means for food cravings.
That takes us to planning:
Plan, Plan, Plan
Plan meals, snacks, and naturally sweet treats for those emotional moments in your day. Basically, plan something you can to avoid relying on sugar or giving in to cravings for dessert.
Having a plan in place and having meals prepped and ready to go will keep you going throughout the day without finding an excuse to eat something unhealthy or packed with sugar or salt.
When you meal prep, you’ll be able to plan the right amount of whole grains, protein, and replacements for sugary snacks. That way, you can get a sweet fix without relying on unhealthy sweets.
If you need assistance in putting together a meal plan, a registered dietitian can help create a first-place-worthy menu.
Staying hydrated throughout the day will also help you keep your cravings in check. When we get dehydrated, we start to crave salty foods, and consuming these processed, salty snacks will lead to the need for something sweet to balance them.
If you stay hydrated and drink enough water daily, you will avoid these needs and keep sugar to a minimum.
Cut Yourself Off Completely and Check the Labels
For many, the best way to cut out sugar is to go completely cold turkey. Throw out all sweet treats in the house and anything with high levels of added sugar.
Certain yogurts and “healthy” snacks are full of added sugars, so check all the labels, and anything that isn’t naturally sweetened needs to go.
Many find that they can gradually eliminate sugar from their diets, while others find the best way is to start at zero on day one.
There are sweeter foods out there that are naturally sweet instead of sweetened. You can even find probiotic sparkling drinks that are naturally sweet and have little to no added sweetener in them.
Foods with sugar content that has occurred naturally will still give you a hit of sugar, but without the promise of a sugar crash later in the day. When it comes to artificial sweeteners, do your research.
You can also opt for fun activities in place of snacking. For instance, if you like to snack while watching TV as a way to occupy your hands, try coloring or knitting instead. Who knows? Maybe you’ll find a new hobby!
Allow Yourself Mini Indulgences
It can be hard to stay on track, and you shouldn’t make it so painful that you don’t enjoy going sugar-free. From time to time, allow yourself a little sweet treat, a very small or mini one, so you know that it’s ok in tiny amounts, just not as an everyday or every meal occurrence.
Little bites of dark chocolate or a small scoop of ice cream aren’t so bad that it throws off your new lifestyle, but it’s enough to satisfy that craving without going overboard.
Change Your Lifestyle For Good
You might be surprised how easy it is to keep your body energized and satisfied without needing to reach for the sweets!
With some guidance and help, our families will enjoy making delicious and healthy choices, so much so that they won’t even have wild cravings for sugary confections. Habits take time to create, but once you dedicate your mind to making the switch, the rest becomes so easy.