Sugar cravings threaten your health because eating too much sugar can lead to weight gain and an increased your risk of cardiovascular disease, as well as tooth decay and other ailments. To break the cycle of sugar cravings, the first step is eating a balanced diet. You’ll also need to keep healthy alternative foods on hand and stand firm when it comes to avoiding sugar.
The Brain Connection - When blood sugar drops, your brain sends out an urgent message that you need to eat because it depends on glucose for energy. But this essential demand for sugar can evolve into a strong sugar dependency.Eating sugary foods activates the brain’s reward system. This system releases the neurotransmitter dopamine in response to pleasurable activities, which embeds the activity in your memory and motivates you to do it again. If you frequently eat sweets or foods with added sugar, the brain gets used to all the dopamine. Then you need to eat more to get the same reward response. This cycle ultimately creates a sugar addiction.
Tame Two Primary Triggers - Once blood sugar takes a dive, you may not be able to control the craving, so keep sugar levels steady by eating balanced meals at regular intervals, recommends registered dietitian Martha McKittrick. She also suggests eating a small snack between meals whether you’re hungry or not.Stress causes the release of the hormone cortisol, which makes you feel hungry. However, cortisol triggers a preference for foods that are high in fat, sugar or both, reports Harvard Medical School.If you can’t avoid stress, alleviate its impact. Try meditating or taking a walk. Gentle exercise helps lower cortisol while giving you a break from stress. This isn't the time for intense exercise because it temporarily boosts cortisol.
More Tips for Fighting Cravings - After a craving hits, wait 15 minutes before eating. Cravings often reach a peak and then go away if you can wait it out. If you consistently avoid eating sugar, over time you’ll beat the habit and won’t experience the cravings, reports Psychology Today.Try chewing gum when you feel a craving coming. In one study, men and women who chewed gum reported fewer cravings for sweets and ate fewer sweet snacks, according to Science Daily in April 2009.Ginseng, fenugreek seeds and an herb called Gymnema sylvestre may help fight cravings by lowering blood sugar. However, researchers have only studied their effect in people with diabetes. Their potential to stabilize blood sugar in healthy people has not been proven.