The draw of the taste of sweetness is natural and happens at a young age, even at birth. This is one of the reasons that sugar was added to milk for babies and children — to get them to drink it.
Carbohydrates stimulate the release of the feel-good brain chemical serotonin and sugar is a carbohydrate. But remember that carbohydrates come in other forms, too, such as whole grains, fruits, and vegetables. The sweet taste of sugar also releases endorphins that calm and relax us, and offer a natural “high.” This is not long lasting and leaves us wanting for more in just a short period of time.
Moreover sweets just taste good and our reward system doesn’t help — we have sweet treats for any celebration or pats on the back, which can make you crave it even more. With all that going for it, why wouldn’t we crave sugar?
The problem comes not when we indulge in dessert now and then, but when we over-consume. Think about how many mithais, chocolates, pastries, and desserts you pop in your mouth. Sweets should be a treat and not an everyday affair.
If you’re craving sugar, here are some ways to tame those cravings.
- Never deny yourself. Eat a bit of what you’re craving, maybe a small piece of mithai or chocolate. Enjoying a little of what you love can help you steer clear of feeling denied.
- Combine foods. If the idea of eating only a little seems impossible, you can still fill yourself up and satisfy a sugar craving, too. Dip a banana in chocolate sauce and that gives me what I’m craving, or I mix some almonds with chocolate chips.” As a beneficial bonus, you’ll satisfy a craving and get healthy nutrients from those good-for-you foods.
- Go cold turkey. Cutting out all simple sugars works for some people, although “the initial 48 to 72 hours are tough. Some people find that going cold turkey helps their cravings diminish after a few days; others find they may still crave sugar but over time are able to train their taste buds to be satisfied with less.
- Grab some gum. If you want to avoid giving in to a sugar craving completely, try chewing a stick of gum.
- Eat fruit. Keep fruit ready for when sugar cravings hit. It’s sweet and you get fiber and nutrients along with it.Dried fruit works well too and it is easy to keep with you when you need it.
- Walk away. When a sugar craving hits, stand up and start walking. Take a walk around the office or do something to change the scenery to distract you off the food you’re craving.
- Choose quality over quantity. If you need a sugar splurge, pick a wonderful, decadent sugary food, but keep it small. For example, choose a homemade pooranpoli instead of a store bought pastry, then savor every bite — slowly. Don’t swear off favorites — you’ll only come back for greater portions. Learn to incorporate small amounts in the diet but concentrate on filling your stomach with less sugary and healthier options.
- Eat regularly. Waiting too long between meals makes you hungrier and sets you up to choose sugary, fatty foods to get instant satisfaction. Instead, eating every three to five hours can help keep blood sugar stable and deter you from bingeing.