8 Tips to Avoid Sugary Foods

8 Tips to Avoid Sugary Foods
Posted on 10/01/2021
Spoon pouring surgar into a sugar bowl.

8-tips-to-avoid-sugary-foodsLet’s talk about sugar.

Believe it or not, both Dr Kaip and myself have a major sweet tooth! Ironic, isn’t it? Even dentists aren’t immune to the temptation of sugar and sweet treats because, well, as humans we’re hard wired to go crazy for it. So don’t be too hard on yourself if you go for that extra slice of pecan pie this holiday season--we’re all in the same boat here.

However, in order to combat a sweet tooth one has to understand why they have one in the first place. So, why is sugar so addictive anyway?

Well, according to the dietitian and American Dietetic Association (ADA) spokeswoman, Christine Gerbstadt, food and beverages that taste sweet are what humans prefer from the moment they are born. It’s biologically hardwired. What’s even more fascinating is that carbohydrates, like sugar, stimulate the release of serotonin, which is the chemical our brains release when we feel happy.

However, that’s not the only chemical reaction sugar can cause. Susan Moores, a registered dietitian and nutrition consultant from St. Paul, Minnesota states that the taste of sugar releases endorphins which produce a natural “high” that calms and relaxes us.

So, biologically speaking, sugar actually makes us happy.

And, to make matters worse, the more our body consumes sugar, the more it craves it. It’s a temporary fix, and a darn tasty one at that. Eating simple carbohydrates like sugar, without the supplementation of protein or fat, will fill us up quickly, giving us that fleeting boost of energy (also known as a sugar rush), only to leave us hungry and wanting more when we experience that dreaded sugar crash.

Sugar may make us happy, but it certainly doesn’t have our best interest in mind. So, how do we stop those pesky cravings?

Here are 8 Tips that will get you through this holiday season:

  1. Give in a little. The problem doesn’t lie in eating sugar, it’s in eating too much of it. We can enjoy sugar, just in moderation. Satisfy your craving by eating a fun-size candy bar or a small cookie. Allowing yourself to enjoy sugar in small quantities will keep you from feeling deprived and overindulging in the long run. Try to stick to a 150-calorie threshold.
  2. Combine foods. Try mixing almonds with some chocolate chips or dipping a banana in nutella or peanut butter. Combining a little bit of sugar with a healthy food option is a great way to get healthy nutrients while satisfying your sweet tooth.
  3. Go cold turkey. Cutting out simple sugars can work really well for some. Some people find that this helps their sugar cravings decrease significantly, however, the first 48 to 72 hours can be tough. Overall, your craving for sugar won’t go away completely, but it is possible to train your taste buds to be satisfied with less the more you consume nutritional based foods.
  4. Grab some gum. If you want to avoid sugar altogether, reach for a stick of gum. All that chewing gives your brain something else to focus until the craving subsides.
  5. 5. Reach for fruit. After all, it’s nature’s candy. Make sure to keep fruit handy for when those sugar cravings hit so you can get fiber and nutrients along with that sweet taste. It’s also helpful to stock up on food like nuts, seeds, and dried fruit--stuff that’s easy to reach for when you’re in a pinch and really need to snack on something.
  6. Get up and go. When you feel a sugar craving coming on do something to distract yourself and take your mind off of it. Get a change of scenery by going for a walk, or do something that makes you happy and is rewarding in a different way.
  7. Choose quality over quantity. Like a dark chocolate truffle from your favorite local bakery or a carefully crafted macaroon. The key is to keep it small. Splurge on small portioned treats that are wonderfully decadent instead of going for the king size candy bar in the grocery check out line. It’s going to taste better, and be more worth your while.
  8. Eat regularly. We’re more prone to choosing sugary, fatty foods when we wait too long to eat between meals. It’s easy to make irrational choices when you’re hungry and not able to think clearly. Eating small meals every three to five hours can help keep your blood sugar stable and help you avoid that irrational eating behavior. Protein, fiber-rich foods like whole grains and produce are always your best bet.

What are some of your favorite tips or tricks to avoid eating too much sugar? Let us know in the comments!