The wrath of a sweet tooth is fierce. And when you’re trying to eat well, it can be a real nuisance! It’s even worse if you’re trying to lose or manage weight. Too much sugar can easily lead to weight gain, so nixing those sugar cravings is vital.
Americans eat too much sugar. Every day, the average person eats 22 teaspoons of added sugar, which is equivalent to 350 calories. The most popular sources? Processed and prepared foods, including sugar-sweetened beverages like soda.1 It’s easy to blame a sweet tooth on genetics or childhood habits. However, there might be certain other reasons at play.
Common Causes Of Sugar Cravings
1. Too Many Artificial Sweeteners
At first glance, artificial sweeteners might seem like your sweet tooth’s best friend. They’re low in calories and much sweeter than sugar, so you don’t need to use a
Dehydration sometimes shows up as hunger.3 And if you have a sweet tooth, this can play tricks on your mind when a glass of water might be all you need. Even your liver’s glycogen
3. Lack Of Sleep
Sleep doesn’t just recharge the brain and body but also keeps your appetite in check! But when you don’t get enough shut-eye, the “hunger hormone” ghrelin shoots up. This promotes a higher intake of sweets, fats, and everything in between.5 Unfortunately, Americans don’t get much sleep. One in 3 adults is running on less than 7 hours of sleep in
When you’re stressed, nothing seems better than eating everything in sight. The reason? Chronic stress increases cortisol, a hormone linked to appetite.7 Plus, when you’re anxious, it’s harder to tell the difference between hunger and emotion. You might not even be able to tell when you’re full, hence making that third cookie seem harmless.8 Make stress management a priority. It won’t just help your eating habits but also reduce disease risk and improve overall health.
5. Sedentary Lifestyle
Physical inactivity has a strong relationship with overeating, weight gain, and obesity.9 Specifically, television and video games are big reasons – screen time is the perfect setup for sugary (and fatty) snacks.10 One might argue that exercise stirs up an appetite, too. But it’s all about what is being eaten. After breaking a sweat, you’ll feel more inspired to eat a healthy meal.
Healthy Ways To Curb A Sugar Craving
Knowing that you shouldn’t eat sugary food doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy the “sweet things.” Whenever you can, choose all natural and healthy options. These will satisfy your sugar craving without the sugar crash and unhealthy calories. Some options include the following:
- Banana ice cream: Blend frozen banana slices with berries or cacao powder. In seconds, you have a nutritious non-dairy ice cream. For extra sweetness, add coconut flakes or drizzle with honey.
- Dates: They are known as nature’s sweetener. In a smoothie, dates can sweeten things up. You can even eat one or two as is.
- Dark chocolate: Don’t shy away from dark chocolate, a “brain food” that improves cognitive function. Thanks to its anti-inflammatory and antioxidative benefits, dark chocolate is just what you need.11 Add it to oatmeal, yogurt, or trail mix.
By keeping a check on all the
|↑1||Added Sugar in the Diet. Harvard T.H. Chan, School of Public Health.|
|↑2||Frank, Guido KW, Tyson A. Oberndorfer, Alan N. Simmons, Martin P. Paulus, Julie L. Fudge, Tony T. Yang, and Walter H. Kaye. “Sucrose activates human taste pathways differently from artificial sweetener.” Neuroimage 39, no. 4 (2008): 1559-1569.|
|↑3||Mattes, Richard D. “Hunger and thirst: issues in measurement and prediction of eating and drinking.” Physiology & behavior 100, no. 1 (2010): 22-32.|
|↑4||Levchenko, K. P. “The effect of weight loss caused by tissue dehydration on changes in carbohydrate metabolism under physical load.” Ukrains’ kyi biokhimichnyi zhurnal 48, no. 1 (1976): 111-115.|
|↑5||Broussard, Josiane L., Jennifer M. Kilkus, Fanny Delebecque, Varghese Abraham, Andrew Day, Harry R. Whitmore, and Esra Tasali. “Elevated ghrelin predicts food intake during experimental sleep restriction.” Obesity 24, no. 1 (2016): 132-138.|
|↑6||Getting Enough Sleep?. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.|
|↑7||Epel, Elissa, Rachel Lapidus, Bruce McEwen, and Kelly Brownell. “Stress may add bite to appetite in women: a laboratory study of stress-induced cortisol and eating behavior.” Psychoneuroendocrinology 26, no. 1 (2001): 37-49.|
|↑8||Daubenmier, Jennifer, Jean Kristeller, Frederick M. Hecht, Nicole Maninger, Margaret Kuwata, Kinnari Jhaveri, Robert H. Lustig, Margaret Kemeny, Lori Karan, and Elissa Epel. “Mindfulness intervention for stress eating to reduce cortisol and abdominal fat among overweight and obese women: an exploratory randomized controlled
|↑9||Prentice, Andrew M. “Overeating: the health risks.” Obesity 9, no. S11 (2001).|
|↑10||Leech, Rebecca M., Sarah A. McNaughton, and Anna Timperio. “The clustering of diet, physical activity and sedentary behavior in children and adolescents: a review.” International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity 11, no. 1 (2014): 4.|
|↑11||Magrone, Thea, Matteo Antonio Russo, and Emilio Jirillo. “Cocoa and dark chocolate polyphenols: from biology to clinical applications.” Frontiers in Immunology 8 (2017): 677.|