Many people struggle with sugar cravings. Health professionals believe that this is one of the main reasons it can be so hard to stick to a healthy diet. Cravings and addictions are driven by your brain's need for a reward, and not your body's need for food. We’re approaching the time of year when everywhere we turn there are candies, cakes, cookies, and pies, tempting us.
If you can just keep your treats small and infrequent, indulging a little when you get a longing for a certain dessert is fine. But if you tend to overeat as soon as you get a taste of sugary foods, then giving in to the cravings is the worst thing you can do.
Here is a simple three step plan to stop sugar cravings.
1. If You Are Hungry, Eat a Healthy and Filling Meal
It’s important to realize that a craving is not the same as hunger. It's not your body calling for energy, it’s your brain yelling for something that will release dopamine in the reward system. Cravings that hit when you’re also hungry are especially difficult to resist. In fact, a craving combined with hunger is a powerful drive that most people have a hard time overcoming.
If you get a craving while hungry, one of the best tricks is to eat a healthy meal immediately. Stock your kitchen with healthy snack foods and meals you’ve prepped ahead of time. Meals packed with protein and healthy fats such as meat, fish, nuts, seeds, tofu, and eggs are good for curbing hunger and cravings. Eating real food may not feel very appetizing when you have a hankering for sugary junk food. But it will always pay off in the long run.
2. Get Enough Sleep
This is one way to stop cravings before they even start. Studies show a strong link between getting adequate sleep and an increase in self-control. When you get 7-8 hours of sleep every night, you have more stamina and will-power. When you’re sleep deprived your hormone levels are altered, which leads to more cravings and even pseudo-hunger. Turning off all screens an hour before bed, using a sleep app to set a routine sleep schedule, and choosing relaxing activities to help you wind down before bedtime will have you beating those cravings quickly!
3. Go for a Nice Walk Outside
Another thing that can work is to go outside for a nice walk. Or if you prefer running, that is another good choice to get your heart rate up. There are two ways that this works for reducing sugary cravings.
First, you are distancing yourself from the food that is tempting you.
Second, the exercise will release endorphins, a feel good chemical in your brain, which can help turn the cravings off. If you can't go outside, do a few exhausting sets of burpees, push-ups, body weight squats or any other body weight exercises, or walk up and down some stairs.
We are in October now and people will be eating lots of candy this month, so coming up with tips and tricks a head of time is super helpful for all of us. Do you have any other craving-busting tips that have served you well? Please share them in the comments! Here at Meridian Campus Family Dental, we know there’s a good chance you’ll be indulging in some extra sweet treats this season. We ask you to make an appointment to make sure your teeth are healthy, clean, and cavity-free.