This article originally appeared on Live in the Now.
It’s likely that your addiction to sugar is not even your fault. After all, food manufactures have been secretly lacing our foods with more and more of the addictive sweet stuff for the past 30 years. And as research continues to reveal, sugar not only induces hunger, it’s highly addictive.
One recent study revealed that the fructose concentrated in ingredients like high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) actually triggers a hunger hormone that causes you to consume more food than your body needs — a pretty scary fact considering HFCS is grossly prevalent throughout our food supply. Add to that another recent study which revealed that “sweetness can surpass the cocaine reward [centers of the brain], even in drug-sensitized and addicted individuals,” and you have a vicious cycle on your hands.
Food manufactures recognize the addictive nature of sugar and high fructose corn syrup, and they use it to their advantage. Between sneaking sugar into seemingly healthy foods and modifying marketing tactics towards children, food manufacturers have created a cushy place for themselves by making sure consumers stay addicted to their low-cost ingredients and over processed foods.
Giving in to your sweet tooth not only wreaks havoc on your body, it intensifies your addiction to sugar. Luckily, there are several tried-and-true tricks that can help you successfully beat your sugar addiction.
#1: Chew gum. According to Dave Grotto, RD, LDN, “research has shown that chewing gum can reduce food cravings.” So when you feel your sweet tooth is taking over, reach for a stick of gum.
#2: Opt for fruit. Consuming natural sugars from fruits that are loaded with fiber, vitamins, minerals and enzymes helps you your body better process the natural sugars. Fruits offer up a bit all natural fructose, which can help satisfy your sweet tooth while saving you from the concentrated, nonnutritive sweet alternatives. The fiber in fruits can also help slow the absorption of sugar so you don’t experience a “sugar crash” later in the day. Try keeping grapes on hand and reach for a few every time your M&M craving seems unbearable.
#3: Remove temptation. Personally, willpower has never been my secret to success. I’m only successful in my aspirations to curb my sugar intake when I leave myself no other choice. It may be slightly traumatizing, yes, but it works! If sweets aren’t within reach, you won’t reach for them, will you?
#4: Give it up cold turkey: According to Christine Gerbstadt, a registered dietitian and American Dietetic Association (ADA) spokeswoman, cutting out sugar altogether may be the best way to curb future cravings. “The initial 48 to 72 hours are tough,” she says, “but some people find that going cold turkey helps their cravings diminish after just a few days.”
#5: Modify your diet. Foods with added or hidden sugar will ultimately cause you to crave more sugar. Pay special attention to this around breakfast time. Breakfast foods tend to be sweet, which could induce a fierce 24-hour sweet tooth. Opt for foods that are high in protein and fiber so that sugars digest more slowly, your blood sugar levels remain balanced and you stay full and satisfied for a longer period of time.