There are many reasons we crave sugar. Sweet foods taste good, and many people reward or soothe themselves with their favorite snacks. But our body is also programmed to like sugar. Eating something sweet:
In addition to long-term risks such as cavities, tooth decay, diabetes and obesity, excess sugar can also cause short-term problems. Consuming too many sweets can cause your glucose levels to spike and then plummet, which leads to mood swings, fatigue and headaches.
Unfortunately, this becomes a problem when sugar is so widely available. Dietary needs vary from person to person, but general health guidelines set the recommended daily allowance for added-sugar intake at 36 grams for men and 25 grams for women. Staying under that limit can be tricky, but there are healthy ways to satisfy your sweet tooth and still enjoy food.
Excess sugar is harmful to your oral health and your overall health. It can contribute to plaque and tartar buildup, tooth decay and gum disease, among other problems such as diabetes and heart disease.
Satisfy your sweet tooth:
Read food labels. Knowing the nutrition content of what you eat will help you stock your pantry with healthier choices.
Start the day right. Eat a healthy, well-balanced breakfast. Consuming too much added sugar early can trigger cravings later in the day.
Find healthy substitutions. Eat fruit instead of fruit candy, for instance, or choose an all-natural fruit smoothie instead of ice cream.
Clean out your cupboards and freezer. You can’t snack on candy during work or pop the top off some ice cream after supper if you don’t keep any of those foods in stock.
Don’t get too hungry. Saying “no thanks” to sugar is a lot harder when your stomach is empty. Eat nutritious meals and small, healthy snacks to keep cravings at bay.
Find food-free ways to relieve stress. It’s natural to reach for comfort food when you have a hard day. Instead of food, try boosting your mood with friends, a walk or a favorite movie or book.
When you do have a sugary treat:
Try savoring every bite of a smaller snack instead of consuming too much sugar in one sitting.
Try to eat more sugary foods at mealtime, when your saliva will help wash away the bacteria.
Making a healthy choice in the face of cravings can feel hard. As you get used to a lower-sugar diet, your cravings will start to die down and you'll start to feel healthier.