How to conquer a sweet tooth

Are those cravings for lollies taking over your life? Here are some solutions.

It has been suggested that a sugar craving occurs in an attempt to elevate our mood; that it is a form of self-medication. The theory goes that by consuming sugars we increase the levels of serotonin, a brain neurotransmitter known to elevate mood. However, the data surrounding this theory is still inconsistent.
We are all born with an in-built preference for sweet foods. There are a number of theories as to why we have this “sweet tooth”. One is that humans evolved a survival instinct (the sweet tooth) over two million years ago, in order to store their own energy reserves for times of scarcity.

Today, most of us do not need to consume excess sweet foods for times of scarcity.

Eating too much of a high energy food (like those containing high levels of sugar) has the potential to
indirectly increase the risk of heart disease and diabetes through the added energy which contributes to obesity.

Tips to conquer a sweet tooth:

  • Don’t let yourself get too hungry – that means eating regularly.
  • Don’t skip meals, and if you need to snack between meals to keep going, choose small portioned, healthy snacks (such as low-fat yogurt).
  • Choose foods which make you feel ‘full’, such as dishes high in water, fiber and protein content like bean soups, stews and pasta dishes.
  • Choose foods with a low-to-medium GI such as fruits, vegetables, low-fat dairy products and wholemeal breads.
  • Limit sweet drinks to one small glass of juice per day.
  • Don’t use sweet foods as a distraction. If you’re bored or stressed, deal with those things more directly.
  • Don’t stock foods that you know you find hard to resist.
  • Don’t forbid sweet foods altogether; you’re liable to become more focused on something when it is forbidden. Aim to satisfy your sweet tooth with small amounts less regularly and learn to savor them.