Summer is filled with tempting sugary treats: ice cream sundaes, peach cobbler, cherry pie, pineapple upside-down cake, and on and on the list goes. Although it’s fine to indulge your sweet tooth every once in a while, you don’t want to feel as though you need a dessert after every meal – or in the middle of the afternoon! Use the tips below if you’re wondering how to curb sugar cravings.
How to Curb Sugar Cravings
First, it’s important to recognize that a craving is different from hunger. Research suggests that three parts of the brain are activated when the brain craves food: the regions responsible for memory, pleasure, and reward. Your brain remembers how delightful desserts can be and desperately wants to experience that pleasure again.
Most tips for how to curb sugar cravings involve either reducing cravings or replacing the reward with a better alternative.
Go Cold Turkey.
This can be tough, but if you’re able to cut all sugar out of your diet, your cravings should greatly diminish after the first few days. Some people find that this truly eliminates their cravings. Others still crave sugar, but they’re able to satisfy their taste buds with less sugar over time.
Get Up and Go.
When you feel a craving coming on, try exercising. Get up and go for a walk. Put on some good music and dance. With your body and mind engaged, your craving may fade.
Drink More Water.
Sometimes thirst triggers a craving for food, as the hypothalamus (a part of the brain) controls both thirst and hunger. So when a sugar craving strikes, try drinking a big glass of cold water. By the time you empty the glass, you might find that your craving has disappeared.
Enjoy Some Fruit.
The natural sugar in fruit can satisfy your cravings without compromising your health. So when you’re craving a cookie or ice cream, try eating some berries, watermelon, grapes, or pineapple instead (or whatever type of fruit you prefer). However, don’t reach for fruit juice, which can be as unhealthy as soda due to its high sugar and calorie content (source).
Chew Some Gum.
Although we aren’t sure why exactly, studies have shown that chewing gum can reduce food cravings (source). Maybe it’s the fact that your mouth is busy chomping on something else? Whatever the reason, if you enjoy gum, keep it around if you often crave sugar.
Beware of Added Sugar.
If you’re trying to limit your sugar intake to curb cravings, watch out for all the unexpected processed foods that often contain sugar: bread, cereal, soup, pasta sauce, yogurt, sports drinks, etc. Check the labels of any items you add to your cart so that you don’t unknowingly consume lots of sugar each day, fueling future cravings.
Make a Plan for Indulging.
If you treat yourself to dessert too often, consider making a plan for when and where you’re allowed to eat sweets. The following are some common rules people make for themselves when it comes to sugar:
- Sweets are allowed on birthdays, major holidays, and special occasions.
- Sweets aren’t allowed at home but can be eaten anywhere else.
- Sweets are only allowed on weekends.
Finally, don’t beat yourself up when you do give in to a sugar craving. What’s life without some indulgences?
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