You worked hard all day, ate well and hit the gym after work. You settle in for a little television after dinner and BAM! The sugar craving hits. You scour the kitchen looking for sweets. What’s up with that?
No one’s immune to sugar cravings. We may be hardwired to eat sugar. Serotonin is a brain chemical released when we eat carbohydrates. Serotonin is often called the happy chemical because it helps regulate mood. Eating sugar also releases endorphins which make us feel good. It’s no wonder we like to eat sugar!
The problem isn’t eating sweets. If you eat sweets in moderation you have nothing to worry about. Get your extra doses of serotonin and endorphins. The problem is overindulging in sweets. Eating too many sweets at one sitting or over time just isn’t good for you. On average Americans consume an extra 22 teaspoons of added sugar per day according to the American Heart Association.
Too much sugar can wreak havoc on your health in many ways. Processed sugar can rot your teeth or, at the very least, lead to cavities. If you have joint pain, you need to limit your sugar intake. Sweets can worsen joint pain because of inflammation. Sugar can also make your skin age faster. Too much sugar can cause wrinkles and saggy skin.
We know too much sugar can lead to heart attacks and heart disease. It can also cause your liver to become resistant to insulin which controls your blood sugar levels. Your pancreas produces insulin but too much sugar can cause your body to stop responding to insulin. The pancreas will keep producing insulin and eventually breakdown from overproduction. This can all lead to damaging your kidneys as well.
Some people don’t care for sweets and have no problem saying no to them. About 75% of people eat sweets and about 50% say they have a sweet tooth. Around 20% of Americans eat candy every day.
It’s not easy saying no to sweets. Here’s a few tips that may help.
- Combine your foods. If you’re craving something sweet, eat something healthy along with a little sugar. Dip a banana in chocolate sauce for example. Combine chocolate chips with almonds or sunflower seeds. Put fresh fruit in a little vanilla pudding. Mainly you’re after the sweet taste to satisfy the craving.
- Eat regularly to avoid cravings. We often crave sugar if we go a long time between meals. Not eating quality food for 7 or 8 hours leads to cravings. Eat smaller meals every 3 or 4 hours to keep you blood sugar consistent and reduce the cravings.
- Suck on hard candy. Some hard candies don’t have as much sugar in them. You can suck on them for many minutes and satiate your cravings for sugar. You aren’t consuming much sugar and you mentally feel like you satisfied your craving.