-- The evidence is everywhere: Too much sugar is the enemy of healthy eating.
But your sweet tooth is also real, and there are many theories as to what creates such cravings.
One hypothesis is that "some of the bacteria in the gut are actually sending signals to the brain," said Maya Fellar, a registered dietitian.
Add that to our body's evolutionarily driven desire to quickly elevate blood sugar and you get a very real desire for sugary treats. Here are some tips to help fight those urges and trick your sweet tooth.
Try Dessert Tea
Flavored teas that have no sugar or sugar substitutes use herbs and flavor combinations to replicate sweetness. The ones that work for me are peppermint and licorice combinations or cinnamon and clove. Teas that try to replicate desserts, like Stash Red Velvet tea, are good too.
For many people, sweet cravings hit after a meal. The body is processing all the food you just ate and is impatient for it to dump sugar (fuel) into your bloodstream. Brewing a cup of tea and tricking your taste buds for a few minutes buys your body time to transform dinner into glucose and more permanently satisfy that craving.
Ditch Candy for Fruit
Dried fruit can offer some relief too. Just make sure it has no added sugar. Many dried fruits, notoriously cranberries, are loaded with extra sugar. These days, I'm noticing more individual serving sizes of dried fruit — like single-serve prunes, small boxes of apricots and freeze-dried apples or pears — which can be stored in glove compartments and office desk drawers for emergency sugar cravings.
Real Sugar: Make It Small and Long-Lasting
Sometimes you just want candy. I get it; in those cases, I turn to lollipops. Even candymakers are getting the message about portion control and making smaller sizes. I love mini-pops (chocolate and butterscotch from See's — yummy) that have just 1.8 grams of sugar. That's less than half a teaspoon and can last 4 to 5 minutes.
Brush Your Teeth
Brushing your teeth has at least a temporary effect on sweet cravings, and so does chewing gum. Also, we sometimes mistake thirst for a sweet craving, so try drinking a glass of water before reaching for candy.
The good news is that retraining your sweet tooth is possible, and the benefits of reducing your sugar intake are real.