Do you have a raging sweet tooth that you wish would just go away? Maybe you feel discouraged because when there’s sweets in the room, you have zero self control.
I get it. I’ve been there (and am still there sometimes).
Your sweet cravings can be like a mosquito buzzing around that just won’t go away. No matter how hard you try to swat it, it just keeps coming back. You start to feel frustrated and resentful towards it, and wish you could just remove yourself from it.
I’ll be the first to admit that I’ve got a longstanding history with my sweet cravings. I grew up eating a bowl of ice cream every night before bed. I’ll never forget my birthday when I was in 4th grade. My teacher had given me a king-sized butterfinger bar and I hid in my room and ate the WHOLE THING before dinner. I haven’t eaten a butterfinger bar since.
Fast forward to adulthood and I could never resist the sweets in the office break room. Bagels, cookies, donuts… I had to have them.
It wasn’t until I started changing the way I fueled my day through nutritious foods and incorporated more natural ways to satisfy my sweet cravings that I felt I was the one in control.
Ask yourself this: are you in control of your sweet cravings, or do your cravings control you?
The Sugar Dilemma
Did you know that on average, we eat 75 grams of added sugar a day? That’s equal to 18 sugar cubes daily or 31 pounds of sugar a year.
Would you go to the store and stock up on 31 pounds of white sugar to eat with a bowl and spoon? I didn’t think so. Most of the added sugar that we are consuming in our day isn’t coming from naturally sweet foods. It’s sneaking into our diet through processed foods, whether it’s via a beverage, packaged sweet treat, or even a food you wouldn’t necessarily identify with containing sugar, such as tomato sauce, bread, oatmeal packets and nut butters.
Sugar has become such a problem that the American Heart Association claims it’s the new salt when talking about increased risk for heart disease.
7 Ways to Conquer Your Sweet Cravings
Hear me out on this one. Researchers believe that we are born with an innate desire for sweet flavors. Way back when, our ancestors associated sugar with energy. What they looked for to satisfy this sweet craving however is drastically different than how we satisfy these same cravings today. I’m telling you this to let you know that these cravings are normal. Instead of constantly fighting against yourself and restricting (which just fuels them even more), find healthier alternatives and mindfully indulge.
Look at the label.
I’m guilty of this one far too often and this is what I do for a living! Be your own advocate in knowing what you’re putting in your body. When you’re adding things into your cart, read the label, first, to detect any unwanted added sugars.
Anything with 5 grams or less is considered low sugar and foods with more than 15 grams of sugar is considered high in sugar. You’ll even notice that labels now have an “added sugar” section, making it easier to identify added versus natural sugars in foods.
This is where the game changed for me. By incorporating more nutrient-dense foods into your diet, you’ll naturally crowd out some of those unhealthier foods. Over time, the more you make a conscious effort to make this transition, your taste buds will begin to change and you will find yourself craving healthier, fresh foods rather than packaged junk.
Related post: How to Build a Healthy Smoothie in 5 Simple Steps
Swap junk food indulgences for healthier alternatives.
This is my favorite trick of the trade! I love finding healthier alternatives to my favorite sweet treats. Usually I can find a good alternative, but sometimes, there’s just nothing that takes the place of the real deal (see next section).Here are some of my favorite healthy swaps:
- Nice cream for ice cream
- Sweet Potato Double Chocolate Brownies for the Ghirardelli brownie box mix
- Medjool date stuffed with almond butter and a small piece of dark chocolate for a candy bar
- Raw caramel sauce for caramel
- Superfood chunky monkey banana bread for traditional banana bread
- Baked lemon poppy seed donuts for donut shop donuts
- No sugar added chocolate avocado pudding OR chocolate chia pudding for Jello pudding box mix
Sometimes, a healthy swap just doesn’t satisfy. That’s okay! I always encourage mindful indulgences – that’s the idea behind an 80/20 lifestyle. Eighty percent of the time, try to stick to a nutritious diet. The other 20 percent of the time, allow yourself to indulge a little. These mindful indulgences allow for sustainability in lifestyle changes and success for the long haul. Just make sure these indulgences are made of REAL food ingredients (and not the processed fake stuff).
Conquering your sweet cravings doesn’t happen overnight. You can’t be dreaming of donuts and then wake up craving fruit. The idea of crowding out, changing your taste buds and shifting cravings takes time. Don’t get discouraged if you still find yourself giving in to sweet cravings more than you would like.
Find other ways to increase dopamine.
When sugar is absorbed in the body, it releases our “happy hormone”, aka, dopamine. This is why sugar is often called “addictive” – we become reliant upon whatever gives us that feel good hormone.
Other ways to increase dopamine production is through regular exercise, incorporating a quality probiotic into your day (the gut is a large manufacturing system for hormones!), eating more protein, getting enough sleep and soaking up the sunshine!
Time to start taking control of your sweet cravings, my friend. You got this!