Crave sugar? It’s not your imagination — it’s nature. “Sweet is the first taste humans prefer from birth,” says Christine Gerbstadt, MD, RD, a dietitian and American Dietetic Association (ADA) spokeswoman. In fact, sugar and other carbohydrates stimulate the brain’s release of serotonin — the feel good and happy chemical associated with short-term pleasure.
The good news is there are other carbohydrates beside sugar that have a similar effect. You can feed a sweet tooth without feeding cavities in the process. That will lead to better dental health — and your dentist will definitely appreciate that!
There are natural sugars in fruit that aren’t as destructive to your teeth as sugary foods. Dried fruits can help fight that sugar craving, but they are also rich in fiber, iron, and vitamins. For a little variety, try grilling a pineapple — mouth-watery delicious without the cavities!
Sprinkle Sweet Spices into Your Food
Add sweet spices like cinnamon, cloves, ginseng and fenugreek to your foods. This will give your tongue sweet sensations without the sugar that feeds cavities. It’s a way of tricking your brain and satisfying the sweet craving. Cinnamon helps to reduce sugar cravings by controlling blood glucose levels — minimizing insulin spikes that result typically lead to increased hunger and sugar consumption.
Skip Processed Foods
You’d be surprised how much sugar is hidden in the ingredients list for many processed foods — often described as fructose corn syrup. This includes many sauces and condiments. Instead, eat fresh fruits and vegetables whenever possible. Skip fast food.
Eat Your Veggies
Vegetables contain healthy sources of carbohydrates that can be satisfying for your sweet tooth. The fiber can also help level out blood sugar levels. Eat more salads with meals. When you crave a snack, eat carrots, celery, and other veggies instead. Add lettuce or spinach to sandwiches, burgers, and stir fries.
Indulge a Little
You don’t need to be a Saint. In fact, restricting yourself too much can backfire and lead to binge eating. Treat yourself to a little dessert every once in a while. Make sure it’s planned, in limited amounts, and absolutely delicious. When a dessert is truly rich and satisfying, this can discourage overeating and help control sugar intake in the long run.
Eat Dark Chocolate
Dark chocolate with a cacao rating of at least 70% is rich in antioxidants. This can have a positive impact on your heart health. Plus, the higher the percentage of cacao, the less sugar it likely contains. Limit yourself to just a piece or two daily.
Surprise! Dehydration is the root of many sugar cravings. When you are dehydrated, your organs release less glycogen [stored glucose] and other components of your energy stores, which can lead to a sugar craving. Keep a water bottle at your side and drink throughout the day. This will leave your body feeling satisfied and craving less sugar overall.
Chew Sugar Free Gum
Chewing gum can help reduce food cravings and make your body feel more satisfied. Plus, chewing gum increases your body’s production of saliva, providing a natural bath that cleanses your teeth. The key is sugar free gum, of course. Otherwise, you are feeding a sweet tooth with good old-fashioned sugar, which can leave to cavity city.
Don’t wait too long between meals. This can set you up for failure. If you have a sugar crash, you could end up binging on foods high in sugar. Don’t send your body into a panic — leading to eating irrational behavior. Instead, feed your cravings with natural alternatives so your body stays content throughout the day.