It is common to have cravings for sweets during the day, however, when that need is constant and these foods become a fundamental part of the diet, there is a greater risk of suffering health problems.
Here we will go over what anxiety over sweets is, why it occurs, and what you can do to calm it down.
What is craving for sweets?
To function properly our body needs glucose, a sugar that comes from the food we eat, although it is also formed and stored within the body.
Glucose is the main source of energy for cells, and it is transported to all of them through the bloodstream.
The craving for sweets can occur, for example, when we go a long time without eating, since our body experiences a drop in blood glucose levels, so the brain will send a signal indicating that it is necessary to replace it.
Although we can incorporate sugar with healthy options, such as fruits, vegetables or cereals, it is common to opt for sugary or ultra-processed foods, since they are easily digested. This quickly sends a signal of satisfaction and energy replenishment to the brain.
Other factors that can trigger a sweet tooth are certain feelings, such as stress. Under this situation, the body produces a hormone responsible for preparing us to react to dangerous situations, called cortisol.
By generating this hormone, the body uses a lot of energy, so it sends constant replenishment signals that trigger an intake of sugary products.
- Recommendations to reduce sugar in the diet
Once satisfied, the brain generates endorphins that give a feeling of happiness and hyperactivity. However, these will have a limited effect, since the foods that were used for energy are easily digested.
This causes glucose to rush into the bloodstream, causing excess blood sugar. To balance this situation, the body produces a hormone called insulin, which is responsible for digesting glucose.
Although this can trigger a drop in sugar levels, causing this entire process to repeat itself.
How to calm your sweet tooth
Frequent and excessive consumption of highly sugary or ultra-processed products to replenish energy can make insulin less efficient, leading to resistance and increasing the risk of diabetes.
This intake can also cause overweight or obesity, cardiovascular problems, and skin disorders, among other conditions.
You can adopt certain habits to reduce the impact or control episodes of sweet tooth:
Control what you eat
As we pointed out, one of the main culprits in the vicious cycle caused by craving for sweets is the fast-digesting sugary or ultra-processed products that we use to replenish energy.
Ideally, choose foods that are rich in iron (a mineral essential to stabilize brain structures and functions), complex carbohydrates (since they take time to digest and prevent blood sugar spikes) and fiber (since it increases the feeling of satiety and extend the periods between meals).
For this you can choose chard, avocado, artichokes, oats, sweet potato, broccoli, pumpkins, mushrooms, citrus fruits, asparagus, spinach, nuts, legumes, potatoes, quinoa, yogurts or carrots, among others.
It is also useful to organize your purchases, so that you correctly select the products that will be part of your diet and do not fall into consuming the first thing that comes to your head (many times guided by anxiety for sweets or hunger).
- Substitutes to lower sugar intake
In addition, limit or eliminate ultra-processed products, such as sweets, ice cream, industrial bakeries, snacks, and added sugar (like the one you add to coffee). With regard to the latter, you can choose healthier alternatives, such as stevia, erythritol or xylitol, among others.
Drinking between 2 and 2 ½ liters of water a day is essential for the body to perform its functions efficiently.
Even water can often be the answer to the need for something sweet. Learn to identify and differentiate your needs by practicing correct hydration.
Don’t skip meals
Not respecting daily meals causes long periods of time without consuming food, and this is one of the main reasons why the brain sends signals to replenish energy.
Complying with breakfast, lunch, snack and dinner, in addition to having healthy snacks for the periods between meals (such as a cereal bar, fruits or nuts) will help you stay satiated and healthy, preventing sudden changes in sugar levels in blood.
You can also resort to tricks to trick your brain into controlling sweet cravings, for example, brushing your diet every time you finish eating.
Stress is a risk factor for sweet tooth, so keeping it under control is a good option to prevent the impact of sugars.
To do this, you can do all kinds of hobbies, walk, practice yoga, read or watch your favorite series. This will not only serve to relax you, but also to distract you and prevent cravings from taking over your attention.
How important is sleep and exercise?
Sleeping is essential to regain energy and achieve good physical and mental performance during the day. Professionals advise sleeping between 7 and 8 hours a day, if possible at regular times.
Another good option to burn excess calories, relax, and stay healthy is to play sports. Physical activity lowers the risk of sweet tooth cravings and combats their impact on health.
If, even by following these tips, you cannot control your craving for sweets, you should consult a health professional to find out what are the causes of those cravings.
Sources consulted: American Diabetes Association, American Family Physicians Association, Comprehensive Natural Medicines Database, US National Library of Medicine, US Department of Agriculture, National Institute of Complementary and Alternative Medicine.