Research shows eating too much sugar leads to heart disease, diabetes, and other diseases.
Sugar has overtaken fat and carbs as the ingredient to avoid in food. Most of us know drinking a Diet Coke and eating a box of Chips Ahoy isn’t good for us, but we still do it.
Because sugar is addicting. Some scientists say it works like cocaine and other drugs, targeting the dopamine-releasing centers in your brain. Sugar makes you feel good in the moment and bad in the long-term.
What can you do if you’re trying to improve your health and cut back on that sweet stuff? Read below for our best tips on battling your sweet tooth:
Wait 15 minutes.
When that craving hits your brain, suddenly all you can think about is feeding your addiction. It can be an all-consuming feeling, but the key to breaking out of your addiction is to avoid giving in.
Tell yourself that you’ll have to wait at least 15 minutes before you satisfy your sweet tooth. During that break, your brain will have time to think about how you promised to get better and how crappy you’d feel if you relented. Many people find that after 15 minutes have passed, they don’t even remember the intense craving they had.
Keep a food journal.
When you feel like heading to the snack machine or your closest convenience store, take a second and stop.
Instead of giving in to your urges, keep a notebook with you to write down how you feel when those cravings arrive. Remind yourself why you decided to cut back on sugar and what your goals are.
When we have a craving, we’re determined to fulfill a short-term need. It’s like scratching a mosquito bite. It feels better in the moment, but afterward you just want to keep scratching.
A food journal can help you remember why you’re saying no to your sweet tooth and keep your long-term goal in mind.
Avoid buying it.
Creating a new habit requires a lot of willpower that’s often in short supply. Instead of counting on yourself to always make the right decision, you have to start making it easier for yourself. Case in point: avoid buying sugary items.
If you buy a packet of Oreos, then every time you want to have some, you’ll be forcing your brain to make a difficult decision. A box of Oreos represents at least a few times you’ll have to decide between breaking your diet and staying on track.
The best way to avoid that scenario? Don’t buy the Oreos in the first place. Not buying the Oreos in the first place helps you avoid being forced to make a decision about them later.
Reach for fruit.
Research says that there’s little difference between the sugar found in fruit and junk food. However, fruit usually contains essential fiber that will slow down how fast your body processes the sugar.
Instead of eating a Little Debbie snack, grab some fresh strawberries or cut up a banana. It’s a lot harder to binge on fruit than it is on Hostess snacks. Satisfy your sweet tooth with something healthier.
Combine it with protein.
You don’t have to give up sugar entirely to stay within your diet. But one way to decrease the effect more sugar can have is to pair a sweet treat with protein. If you want a piece of chocolate, have some almonds or walnuts with it. Pair a cookie with a glass of whole milk, which has more protein and Vitamin D than skim or 2%.
Protein will fill you up more and prevent you from eating five brownie bites. Peanut butter and almond butter are also good additions to some chocolate chips or ice cream. Your sweet tooth gets a little love, but isn’t taking over.
Avoid peer pressure.
The people around you will likely notice if you’re trying to change your eating. Some might criticize you and say things like, “One cookie isn’t going to kill you.”
It’s easy to give into peer pressure, especially if you feel uncomfortable or are in a workplace setting. But those people aren’t looking out for your best interests; they’re just trying to feel better about their own choices. When they see someone who’s making better decisions, they get insecure and want to tear that person down.
Instead, find someone you know who has a similar goal. You can help each other stay on track and vent when your cubicle neighbor is harassing you about eating their homemade brownies.
When we eat something we crave, we likely hoover it down. Instead, try eating as slowly as possible and concentrating on what you’re ingesting. Eating mindfully has been shown to reduce overeating because it helps you appreciate the food you have.
This piece of advice might seem a little “woo woo,” but it can help you realize you only need one candy bar, not five.
Plus, the slower you eat, the more time your stomach has to truly signal that you are getting full.
In the end, we really are what we eat. So try not to eat so much crap.