Let's face it, sugar makes you feel good. It tastes good, looks good and may even satisfy and emotional need. According to an article published in the 2008 issue of "Neuroscience and Biobehavioral Reviews," sugar can stimulate the same neural pathways in the brain as drugs of abuse. Not everyone who eats sugar will become addicted to it, but to make sure you don't, and to put yourself on the path to health, replace unhealthy, sugary sweets with healthy alternatives.
Clean your cupboards. The safest way to avoid sweets is to not have them around. Throw away any processed, sugar-loaded temptations or donate them to your local food pantry.
Avoid all products with artificial sweeteners, such as drinks, candy and other processed foods. According to an article in the June 2010 issue of "Yale Journal of Biology and Medicine," products with artificial sweeteners leave you dissatisfied, because unlike sugar they do not activate the pathways in the brain that tell you your craving has been taken care of. The researchers also report that because they are sweet in flavor they simply encourage your desire for more sweets.
Buy fresh fruit and have it sliced and ready to eat when you get a sugar craving. If you crave apple pie, simply slice up an apple and sprinkle it with plain cinnamon. The natural sugars in the apple give it the sweet taste, while the cinnamon adds the pie flavor.
Chop up pitted dates and mix the pieces with some chopped walnuts or almonds. Eating a small handful at a time will give you the taste of sweet, while the nuts deliver extra fiber to help you feel full. Read the label of any dates you purchase to make sure they do not have added sugar.
Drink plenty of water. Water makes you feel full, which will help curb your cravings, if only temporarily.
- Add exercise to your daily routine. A study in the February 2009 issue of "Appetite" shows that a 15-minute walk reduces the urge to eat chocolate. It should have the same effect on other sweet cravings as well.
- Be sure to wash fresh fruit before eating it to avoid unnecessary consumption of pesticides and other environmental toxins.
A certified nutritionist who majored in health, fitness and nutrition, Traci Vandermark has been writing articles in her specialty fields since 1998. Her articles have appeared both online and in print for publications such as Simple Abundance, "Catskill Country Magazine," "Birds and Blooms," "Cappers" and "Country Discoveries."