Sugar cravings range from the occasional late-night ice cream binge to a full-blown addiction, in which people use sugar to deal with stress, boredom and depression. Whether you have a hankering for cookies after dinner, or feel compelled to eat sugary foods at the first sign of stress or sadness, making a few changes to your routine can help you curb your cravings and live a healthier life. Talk to your doctor about how sugar affects your health and what you can do to reduce your intake.
Out of Sight, Out of Mind
If your refrigerator and cupboards are filled with sugary foods like cookies, ice cream and pie, you'll never be able to kick your sweet tooth. As much as possible, your goal should be to reduce temptation. That means getting rid of all the sugary treats in your house and stocking your kitchen with foods that are sugar-free or contain natural sugars. If temptation lurks at your workplace, take steps to distance yourself. When your co-worker brings donuts, go out for a walk instead of hanging out in the break room. Or tell your co-workers you're trying to eat healthier and ask them to help you by refraining from bringing sugary treats. The less you are tempted by sugar, the less likely you will be to crave it.
Make Sweet Substitutions
Just because you have to give up sugar doesn't mean you have to give up the delight of sweet flavors. Many healthy foods, such as fresh fruits, can satisfy your sweet cravings. Juicy slices of pineapple or mango can take the place of your favorite jelly candy; a cup of cold Greek yogurt topped with fresh berries can stand in for your evening bowl of ice cream. Once you make the switch and stick with it for a while, you'll find you crave fewer and fewer unnaturally sweet foods like cake and candy.
Make Healthy Lifestyle Changes
When you're overly tired or dehydrated, you're more likely to crave unhealthy foods. Getting plenty of sleep and staying hydrated are simple steps you can take to reduce the likelihood of falling prey to your sweet tooth. Get seven to eight hours of sleep a night, and drink at least eight 8-ounce glasses of fluids a day. Exercise is also an effective way to fight cravings while improving your overall health. Research from Brigham Young University in 2012 shows that 45 minutes of moderate-to-vigorous exercise in the morning decreases the motivation to eat throughout the day, which may help you curb your sweet tooth.
Long-term, chronic stress can cause you to overeat, especially high-fat, sugary foods that are bad for you, notes Harvard Health Publications, and women are more likely to fall prey than men. Keep track of your sugar cravings and notice if they coincide with stressful events or periods in your life. If so, take steps to reduce your stress, which will make kicking your sugar habit easier. Harvard recommends exercising regularly, meditating and relying on your social networks for support during tough times.
- Harvard Health Publications: Why Stress Causes People to Overeat
- Addiction Treatment Magazine: How to Curb Your Sweet Tooth
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Sleep and Sleep Disorders
- MayoClinic.org: Water: How Much Should You Drink Every Day?
- Brigham Young University: BYU Study Says Exercise May Reduce Motivation for Food
- Photo Credit Anna Omelchenko/iStock/Getty Images
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