Do you start your day off with sugary cereal or find yourself reaching for a sweet treat in the middle of the day? If you gravitate towards sweet foods throughout the day, chances are that you may have a sweet tooth!
Having a sugar craving is perfectly normal.
Almost everyone finds themselves craving sugar from time to time and there’s no harm in treating yourself to sweet treats every now and then. But BEWARE!
Consuming too much sugar can have negative effects on your health in the long run!
The first step to good oral health is learning how to curb those sugar cravings! The next time you crave sugar, think of these tips and tricks to stop your cravings.
What is Sugar?
Sugar is a carbohydrate that is often found naturally in many foods that we consume every day. After consuming sugar, our body breaks it down into glucose which is used to produce energy and healthy body functions. Unnatural sugar intake results from added sugar in food. This additional sugar from refined carbohydrates will be transformed into quick energy that won’t do anything beneficial for your body.
Why Do We Crave Sugar?
There are multiple reasons that explain why we may crave sugar. First, we may have been conditioned into eating these sugary foods.
Over time, you become accustomed to repeated behaviors and form long-standing habits that may take serious effort to break. Sugar will also release a feel-good chemical known as dopamine, which can lead you toward craving sugar.
Artificial sweeteners may also be to blame for many of the sugar cravings you experience.
Artificial sweeteners are replacing real sugar in many foods, and our taste buds are getting used to the sweeter taste. The desire for a hyper-sweet artificial sweetener may be leading us to crave more sugar.
Did you know that lack of sleep can lead you to crave sugary, salty, and starchy foods? That’s right, those food cravings may be caused by a lack of sleep! Make sure you’re getting enough sleep every night by going to bed on time.
Craving sweets may also result from high levels of cortisol, a stress hormone. Being stressed for long periods can lead to these sweet food cravings, so do your best to mediate your stressors.
How to Stop Sugar Cravings
Alone, sugar consumption is not a heavy problem to worry about. Excessive or added sugar intake, however, can be detrimental to your health in the long run. Curb your cravings by following these helpful tips!
Getting outside and getting active can actually help curb those sweet cravings! Simply walking for 15 minutes a day can both help to reduce chronic stress and that unwelcome food craving.
This effect may only be temporary, as studies haven’t shown how your brain chemicals react to this quick exercise throughout the day. But the next time you crave sugar, simply step outside and go for a walk!
Change Your Habits
Your sugar addiction may have been caused by your eating habits. If you often treat sugar as a reward, your body will come to expect and crave that reward. Giving in releases the feel-good hormone dopamine, and over time that can form a sugar habit. That means your guaranteed gelato craving after dinner is happening because you’ve eaten gelato after dinner frequently and your brain has come to expect it.
Changing your habits doesn’t mean becoming a healthy cooking expert. It means watching what you eat and when you eat it. Many processed foods or packaged foods contain added sugar that can lead to more sugar cravings down the road. Try to avoid relying on these types of foods in order to balance out what you eat. Try incorporating more healthy foods into your diet as well. Doing so can help change your habits for the better!
Check Out Your Nutrient Levels
Your sugar craving may be resulting from a nutritional deficiency. We suggest having particularly strong cravings medically reviewed in order to get to the bottom of the issue.
For example, you may be craving sugar due to a blood sugar imbalance, or you may have a magnesium deficiency that is causing your body to have trouble bringing energy into cells.
Consult a doctor to determine if your body is going beyond healthy blood sugar levels.
Certain Foods that Curb Sugar Cravings
Sometimes you feel hungry for sugar, but before you reach for processed foods try these instead!
- Craving chocolate? Try dark chocolate instead of milk or semisweet!
- Eat fiber-rich foods like apples, beans, and dried fruits.
- Eat foods with healthy fat like nuts, and cook in olive oil instead of butter.
- Reach for foods with natural sugar like yogurt or fruits.
Our favorite naturally sweet snacks include apple slices with nut butter, sweet herbal tea, and homemade granola with dried fruits and nuts.
What Does Sugar do to Your Teeth?
We’ve all heard that sugar can rot our teeth, but what exactly does that mean? Sugary foods will actively change the acidity levels of your mouth, which can result in enamel-eating acids being created. Sugar intake can also attract bacteria that cause gingivitis and gum disease, which may cause your gums to recede and your teeth to, well, rot.
Don’t worry! This doesn’t mean you have to stop eating all of your favorite sweet treats. The next time you crave sweets, just make sure to thoroughly brush and floss after eating them! Doing this will promote good oral health, and keep your teeth in good condition to keep eating the healthy (and sugary) foods you enjoy!
Part of a good oral health routine is visiting the dentist for regular teeth cleanings. Your dentist will scrape off any plaque formed by sugar, and leave your teeth fresh and clean! To schedule your next appointment, contact Tree City Dental today!