If you’re trying to lose weight or create a healthier lifestyle by eating healthier, one challenge may be sugar cravings, sometimes called a sweet tooth. Do any of these scenarios sound familiar? You always save room for dessert. You reach for a cookie (or two or three) when you’re stressed. You put a little more into your exercise routine so that you can eat something sweet. If you answered yes to any of these scenarios, you might have a sweet tooth.
What Causes a Sweet Tooth?
Research has found many reasons you may have a sweet tooth – physiological and psychological. Here are a few causes of sugar cravings:
- Conditioning/Habit – Did your mom give you a home-baked sweet when you were feeling down, and now you reach for something sweet when you’re feeling a little blue? Do you reward yourself with a bowl of ice cream? Have you gotten into the habit of stopping for a Starbucks Caffè Vanilla Frappuccino (or something similar) on your way to work? If so, your mind and body may have been trained to crave sugar.
- Stress – The National Library of Medicine findings “… support a metabolic-brain-negative feedback pathway that is affected by sugar and may make some people under stress more hooked on sugar and possibly more vulnerable to obesity and its related conditions.”
- Genetics – We found several studies that link specific genes to cravings for sugary foods, including a National Institutes of Health study and a University of Copenhagen study.
Why is a Sweet Tooth a Problem?
So, what if you do have a sweet tooth? Is that really a problem? Many studies have found that too much sugar is bad for your health.
- Weight Gain – Many studies show the link between high sugar intake and weight gain. Research shows that foods high in added sugar often cause you to overeat because they tend to be less filling and displace healthier foods that provide much-needed nutrients.
- A Lack of Nutritional Value – sugar contains calories but no nutritional benefits. Plus, added sugar (as opposed to naturally occurring sugar), is digested quickly, which means it is not a good source of energy.
- Cavities – eating sugar can cause tooth decay, which can lead to cavities.
- Diabetes – Healthline reports, “Excessive amounts of added sugars have been associated with an increased risk of type 2 diabetes, likely due to negative effects on the liver and a higher risk of obesity.”
- Heart Disease – Harvard Medical School reports, “Consuming too much added sugar can raise blood pressure and increase chronic inflammation, both of which are pathological pathways to heart disease.”
How to Control a Sweet Tooth
Here are five tips that have been shown to help control a sweet tooth:
- Eat a high-protein breakfast.
- Drink plenty of water.
- When you have a sugar craving, try going for a walk or immersing yourself in a project.
- Eat naturally sweet foods, such as sweet potatoes, carrots, grapes, or berries, when you have a sugar craving.
- Eat high-fiber food, such as broccoli or cauliflower, to help you feel full longer.
My Neat Health’s nutritionally designed meal replacement and protein supplements can help control your sweet tooth and reduce your sugar intake. We use natural sugar in minimal quantities, using just enough to make our products taste good. Our goal is to create genuinely delicious-tasting products that do not leave an unpleasant aftertaste.