For those of us with a sweet tooth, giving in to sugar cravings can be a slippery slope. Without a defense strategy, reaching for one cookie can often lead to eating half the package – and before you know it, you feel out of control and wracked with guilt.
While indulging in sweet treats is okay in moderation, too much indulgence can lead to spikes in your blood sugar, poor heart health, weight gain, and other health issues. Here are some tips to tame your sweet tooth when it feels like it’s getting the best of you.
How to Help a Sweet Tooth
1 – Eat More Balanced Meals: If you often skip breakfast or go hours without food, hunger can take over your brain and decision-making. Don’t go more than four hours without at least eating a nutritious snack. A balanced snack or meal includes non-starchy vegetables, complex carbohydrates (ex: whole-grain), lean protein, and healthy fats.
2 – Drink a Glass or Bottle of Water: We often confuse thirst for hunger, so drinking water when you have a sugar craving might help it go away. If you don’t like drinking plain water, try adding fresh fruit such as melon, lemon, or strawberries. You can also try naturally flavored seltzer water or using zero/low-calorie flavored drink mixes.
3 – Do a Sugar Assessment: How much added sugar do you consume on average daily? Sugar consumption is like a domino effect; the more you have, the more you will crave. Look for added sugars in places like your morning coffee, soft drinks, granola bars, flavored yogurt, and trail mix. Click here for more about hidden sugars in your diet.
4 – Do Something to Distract Yourself: Go on a walk, do some chores, read a book, do a crossword puzzle, or work on a hobby. A mental distraction can shift your focus off of your craving and onto something different.
5 – Reach for Fruit: Keep fresh fruit handy to conquer cravings when they hit – melons, apples, strawberries, grapes, pears, etc. Even better? Combine your fruit with a healthy protein or fat such as peanut butter, low-fat cheese, Greek yogurt, or nuts.
Is it Physical or Emotional?
One more important tip to help manage sugar cravings is to decide whether your craving is physical or emotional. Anxiety, stress, depression, or just being upset can all increase your desire for sweets. If your craving is truly emotional, try taking a walk, calling a friend, or doing another healthy self-care activity that will help you feel better.