Satisfy Your Sweet Tooth: Combat Your Cravings
According to Dr. Oz, the average American consumes roughly 150 pounds of sugar a year. When you consider that fact, it’s not difficult to guess why we, as a nation, struggle with obesity and diabetes. Mildly overweight people usually store about 5% of the sugar they eat for energy. They metabolize about 60% and store about 35% as fat for future energy needs. We rarely need to tap into those fat stores, so they just keep accumulating.
Our “Sweet Tooth” is killing us.
What we whimsically call a “sweet tooth” is a cute name for a sugar craving or a passion for sweet foods. If you’re the girl most likely to hit the dessert bar twice, you probably identify as someone with a “sweet tooth.” And that might not be entirely your fault.
Recent evidence suggests a genetic root to the lust for sugar. Plus, research proves that “Sugar Addiction” is as real as drug addiction and probably harder to beat. Hardcore metabolic roots for those sugary cravings mean that sugar junkies who want to combat their desires must find healthy alternatives to satisfy their sweet teeth.
What are the genetic causes of a sweet tooth?
Studies in recent years show that people who crave sugar tend to have a “weak sweet taste.” That means they need more sugar than a normal person to taste the same level of sweetness. Genetics accounts for about 30% of the differences in people's ability to taste sweetness, according to a study of identical and non-identical twins at the Monell Chemical Senses Center.
The same research demonstrated that contrary to popular thought, eating a lot of sugar as a kid didn’t anesthetize participants to sweetness. It’s a genetic thing. Some people are just born with a sweet tooth.
So what happens when DNA supplies you with weak sweet receptors? Sweets are more appealing to you than to most people. You eat more sugar to sate your desire for sweetness. And that means you take in more empty calories that your body will helpfully store as fat in case you need that energy later. Thanks.
What is sugar addiction?
According to some experts, sugar over-stimulates the reward centers in your brain and causes addiction. Other experts dispute whether sugar addiction exists, but I know that when I eat sugar, I want more and more and more. So regardless of what the experts say, I feel like it's an uncontrollable monster within me.
Here's what we all agree on ... foods with a lot of sugar cause our brains to release massive amounts of dopamine, the same brain chemical that illicit drugs, like cocaine and meth, amp up to create euphoria. That’s what we mean by a “sugar high.”
When we eat a lot of high-sugar foods frequently, we train the brain to be less conscious of the increased dopamine levels. And once the brain is less receptive, it takes more and more sugar to create the same feeling, just like building a tolerance to an addictive drug. Because sugar manipulates our brains’ reward centers and functions a lot like nicotine or cocaine, folks with a predisposition toward addiction are more likely to get addicted to sugar and to lose control of their ability to regulate consumption.
Well, that sucks.
But I have good news! You CAN satisfy your sweet tooth and put the kibosh on those crazy cravings by choosing healthier snacks and limiting the amount of sugar you swallow. You know that you need to set down the candy bars, step away from the ice cream, and lay off the sodas and desserts but did you also know that dairy, fruit products, and white flour pack a huge sugar punch?
The top three sources of added sugar in the American diet are:
soft drinks, energy drinks, and sports drinks;
baked desserts with a grain base like cookies and cake;
and sugar-packed fruit drinks like juices and smoothies.
But before you despair, let’s get back to all the incredibly tasty options you have to satisfy that sweet tooth and curb your cravings.
Don't like chocolate? Then check out these non-chocolate alternatives.
Now, if your body has become accustomed to high-fructose, super-processed snack cakes, it will take a while to get used to eating a frozen banana instead. But I promise that if you commit to working the sugar out of your diet, you will feel much healthier and make your head spin. And after a while, treats you once enjoyed will seem too sweet. You’ll be able to relish a truly divine chocolate-dipped strawberry instead of eating a sleeve of Thin Mints.
You will learn to satisfy your sweet tooth with less sugar. Doesn’t that sound heavenly? To be in control of what you eat? To live without cravings?
You want to discover your healthiest self, or you wouldn’t have read this far.
So let’s do it.
Do not let sugar kick your butt. Jump in and try something new to satisfy your sweet tooth. Kick those cravings to the curb so you can live the healthy, happy life you deserve!
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