It happens to us all: that sudden, overwhelming urge to eat a dozen cookies or finish off that bag of M&Ms. Not knowing how to tackle our sweet tooth, we cave, feeling guilty all day and promising ourselves never to let it happen again.
Though a main reason for craving something sweet is lower levels of sugar in your system than you’re used to, other reasons for craving sugar are stress, dehydration and lack of exercise. That’s right: If you make sure you’re maintaining a healthy lifestyle by staying hydrated and active, you’ll notice your sugar cravings will diminish. When that sweet tooth hits, though, be prepared and know how to stop it before giving in to the box of cookies or gallon of ice cream.
Step 1: Don’t buy junk food
Try your hardest not to keep junk food in the house. If it’s easily accessible, you’re much more likely to give in. If you have to go to the store or through a drive-through to satisfy your craving, chances are you’ll think twice. Also, keep your house stocked with healthy foods. Instead of ice cream, make a yogurt parfait with low-fat vanilla yogurt, fresh blueberries and bananas, and low-fat granola. The granola and fruit will most likely satisfy any sweet tooth craving, and you’ll feel much better about yourself.
Step 2: Avoid ‘habitual’ snacking
We all know habits are hard to break, especially bad ones, so this step is going to take some discipline. Do you find yourself eating more sugar in times of stress? When three o’clock rolls around at the office are you headed to the vending machine for a “break”? Do you unwind at the end of the day with reality TV and a bowl of ice cream? If you answered “yes” to one of these questions, it’s time to break that habit. Here are some tips for making this transition run smoothly:
- Don’t skip meals. If you’re hungry, your cravings will be more intense, making it almost impossible not to give in.
- Wait 20 minutes. Keep yourself busy for 20 minutes from the time the craving strikes. By then, it often will have disappeared.
- Drink water. Water gives you the feeling of being full. Have one or two large glasses when you feel that sugar craving coming on.
- Brush your teeth or chew gum. If all else fails, brushing your teeth or chewing gum will make the food not taste as good, hopefully making you decide not to eat it.
Step 3: Load up on fruit
Fruit contains natural sugar to satisfy your sweet tooth but also provides other essential vitamins and minerals. Fruits are generally low in calories, loaded with water and are a good source of fiber, which will help you feel full. Consider making a fruit salad of strawberries, cantaloupe, honeydew melon, bananas and blueberries each week to snack on. The key to not giving in to sweet cravings is to have healthy foods on hand and already prepared. Though this does take work, it’s worth it in the long run since eating less sugar will help you lose weight and provide you with more energy throughout the day.