Are you hiding chocolate bars, candy or bagels in your desk at work or sneaking off to the vending machine for a “pick me up” several times a day? Chances are that it helps for a while then you crash back into the land of fatigue and foggy concentration—wishing you could curl up and just fall asleep. The truth is, you aren’t alone and what you may call a “sweet tooth” could be a true sugar addiction. Research has shown that the brain responds to the reward of intense sweetness greater than it does to cocaine. Pretty shocking isn’t it? Study after study continues to lump the effects of sugar in the same boat with drugs, but there is hope to break the sugar habit and the extreme swings in energy you fight as a result of it.
- Go cold turkey. We won’t lie—this is a tough decision for the first day or two. Amazingly, you’ll see just how tightly sugar has gripped your life when you give it up. The first day or two will be the toughest, but if you can hold on the cravings will decrease until you’re able to satisfy yourself with less sweet foods like fruit or a piece of gum.
- Eat regular meals and snacks. If you wait too long between meals, there’s a good chance you’ll get desperately hungry and make an unhealthy, sugary splurge. Try to eat three meals plus a small snack between that includes protein like nuts or seeds.
- If you need something sweet, look for fruit. Fruit gives you more than sugar (not to mention it’s not the same kind of sugar found in your candy bar) because you’ll also get important nutrients and fiber you would have missed on a trip to the vending machine.
- Divert yourself. Sometimes you just have to distract yourself. That may mean getting up and taking a walk or leaving an area where sugary food is present.
- Clean out your stash. If sugary foods aren’t there, you can’t eat them. That may mean giving away your junk food stash at work (or throwing it away) and cleaning out your pantry at home so you’re free from temptation. Replace these foods with other easy-to-grab options that won’t sabotage your efforts.
- Chew gum. Researchers say that chewing gum for an hour can reduce your craving for sugar. Keep some on hand and dive in as often as needed.
- If you must indulge, choose quality over quantity. Should you have a truly weak moment, try not to sabotage all of your efforts. Instead of eating a huge candy bar, have one small square of dark chocolate. Enjoy it slowly and purposefully and its richness will soothe your craving without throwing you totally off course.
Are you fighting a sweet tooth? You may be surprised to know that it may not all be in your head—but in your genetics. Genetic nutrition testing allows you to learn more about how your body processes sugar, nutrients and vitamins can give you and your healthcare provider valuable information about how to manage your diet, exercise plan and fight sugar cravings once and for all.