Okay, I’ll admit it. I have a sweet tooth. No, actually, to tell the truth, there are times when I feel like my entire mouth is filled with sweet teeth, because the craving for sugar feels so strong. Of course, sugar isn’t the best thing to eat, especially in large quantities. Too much sugar tends to expand your waistline, harms your teeth, and puts you at risk for diabetes and other health problems. So, if you’re like me, you need to learn how to satisfy your sweet tooth… without loading up on sugar.
1. Dealing With Stress and Exhaustion
If you’re like most people, you’re always on the run. You have yourself and maybe a family to take care of, meals to cook, dishes in the sink, bills to pay, and constant errands to run. There are only twenty-four hours in a day, and you seem to fill up most of those hours with chores and work. As a result, you’re exhausted. When your body has run out of fuel, and it needs energy, it tends to crave stimulants such as caffeine and sugar. Of course, both stimulants are easy to find in a candy bar or in a can of soda. Caffeine and sugar give us quick rushes of energy, but once they leave our systems, we feel more exhausted than before.
Instead of giving your body a “quick fix” of caffeine and/or sugar, give it what it really needs instead. If you’re stressed, find ways to relax. Practice deep breathing exercises or take classes in Yoga. Find ways to add more relaxation to your daily life: find a relaxing hobby, start jogging, or get massages. More importantly, slow down! Get enough sleep every night and rearrange your schedule so it’s not so hectic. Once you add more relaxation to your life, your sweet tooth, or, your cravings for sugar, will be more satisfied without you actually loading up on sugar.
2. Eating Too Much Salt
Processed foods usually contain an abundance of salt. Snack foods are notorious for their salt content. But even “healthy” foods can contain loads of sodium as well. Eat a can of condensed soup, and you’re likely to consume 770 milligrams of salt. A small-sized TV dinner can give you 840 milligrams, while a frozen chicken pot pie can give you a whopping 850 milligrams of sodium as well!
While it’s true that our bodies need salt to function properly- you can’t live without it!- we actually need to consume less than these numbers every day. According to The National Research Council of the National Academy of Sciences in Washington, D.C., we need approximately 500 milligrams of sodium every day.
A certain amount of salt is healthy, but eating or drinking too much sodium causes problems. Not just high blood pressure, for example, but ingesting too much salt can also kick your sweet tooth into overdrive.
To satisfy your sweet tooth, you need to reduce your intake of salt. This will be easier than you may think. First, cut back on salty snacks. Choose unsalted saltines and nuts, for example. Remove the salt shaker from your kitchen table. Or, dump the salt out of it and replace it with a sodium-free seasoning instead. When you’re looking for a light meal, opt for low-sodium fresh vegetables. And, check the labels on processed foods. Look for “no salt” or “low salt” versions of your favorite foods.
By reducing your salt intake every day, you’ll not only make your body healthier, but you’ll also reduce your cravings for sugar. Your sweet tooth won’t bother you as much as it once did!
3. Eating Too Many Refined Carbohydrates
Have you ever sat down in front of a heaping platter of spaghetti at a restaurant, and you amazed yourself by eating the whole thing? You probably ate bread sticks or garlic bread too! And, because eating refined carbohydrates alone makes you crave even more carbs and sugar, you might even have followed this feast with a sugary dessert too!
Once you ate the spaghetti and bread, you were probably stuffed. At least, for an hour or so. Why? Because refined carbohydrates such as pasta, noodles, white bread, crackers- anything made from white flour- fill your stomach up, but they don’t nourish your body. This is because refined carbohydrates don’t contain the fiber, nutrients, vitamins and minerals that your body needs.
In order to satisfy your sweet tooth, (and help slim your waistline at the same time), you should cut down on the amount of refined carbohydrates you eat. That doesn’t mean you can’t eat breads, crackers, and even, pasta! Instead of eating these foods that are normally made with white flour, just look for products that are made with whole-grains instead!
And, don’t eat carbohydrates by themselves. Eat them with protein. The protein will help regulate your blood sugar level. Otherwise, when your blood sugar level drops, your sweet tooth will crave more refined carbohydrates and sugar.
4. Dealing With Holidays and the Winter Blues
Winter time tends to make your sweet tooth work overtime. First, the winter days are shorter so we don’t get as much sunlight. This decrease in sunlight causes the serotonin levels in our bodies to drop. Serotonin is the chemical in our brains that makes us feel happy. Reduced serotonin levels make us crave sweets and sugary foods because it’s looking to replace the lost chemical.
And second, the winter holidays place carbohydrates, sugary desserts and candies in front of us. The more carbohydrates and sugar we eat, the more our sweet tooth tells us to eat.
To deal with the loss of sunlight and the resulting loss of serotonin without loading up on sugar, try adding more light to your life! Open up the curtains on sunny days and let more sunlight in. Buy a membership at a tanning bed, or, you can instead invest in light bulbs that mimic real sunlight.
To satisfy your sweet tooth when you’re eating holiday goodies and desserts, be sure to eat some protein with it. Again, the protein will help regulate your blood sugar so you won’t be tempted to load up on sugar. That way, you’ll be happy, and you’ll be able to satisfy your nagging sweet tooth!