How to Handle a Sweet Tooth

woman running away from cupcakesYou want to avoid having too much sugar in your diet because it can lead to weight gain and other health consequences, but overindulging in sugary foods is a hard habit to break!

As kids, many of us were served desserts for special occasions and given candy as a reward. And so our “sweet teeth” began. Here are four ways you can kick the sugar habit.

1. Clean Out the Cupboards

Just like so many other habits you might have to tackle in life, a sweet tooth is connected to cravings. What you do when a craving hits makes all the difference. If you’re the type to have a stash of sweet stuff just in case you need a treat, taking the sweet stuff (and thus, the temptation) out of your pantry and fridge (and desk drawer!) is such a good tactic.

To eliminate extra temptation, you might:

  • Ask your mom not to bake you a pan of brownies next time you visit
  • Refuse the dessert menu when you’re dining out
  • Remove sugary cereals from your shelves

If you’re super dependent on your sweets, it’s best to approach your changes one step at a time. You can tackle your mid-day candy break the next week.

2. Call in the Substitutes

By you removing tempting sweets from your food storage, you are also making room for healthier replacements. Now, when your sweet tooth hits, instead of going hungry (or feeling sad you can’t grab an ice cream bar like you used to), you can snack on something else you like instead. And it’s important that you like it—eating something sweet stimulates pleasure areas in the brain, so your substitutes should be enjoyable, too.

Try these substitutes:

  • Choose a piece of fruit, like a plum or an apple, instead of a piece of cake
  • If you like ice cream, try freezing sweet fruits, like bananas and berries, to keep on hand
  • Retrain your palette to enjoy other flavors, too: a pickle works as a salty and sour snack

3. Know Your Nutrition

When you’re following a healthy eating plan, one that provides you with ample fuel for your lifestyle and fitness goals, your chances of outsmarting your sweet tooth are likely to be higher. Our bodies like a balance of nutrients (protein, fat and carbohydrate), but many of us discover we are over- or under-eating for our specific needs.

Here’s how it works in your body:

  • Sweet foods provide carbohydrates that are quickly used by your body for fuel, while..
  • Protein and fat slow the release of sugars into your bloodstream, so…
  • A more stable system can help feel more satisfied, for a longer time after you eat, and…
  • Warding off hunger pangs helps prevent sudden sugar cravings

Eating mixed meals and balanced snacks is an excellent idea for your health, and to break away from sugar binges.

4. Don’t Run On Empty

Sometimes a sweet tooth is not a habit as much as a result. If you are skipping meals, or not eating enough in general, your hunger could be stimulating a craving for some sugar, which provides your body with a preferred source of energy in the form of glucose.

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