Poway and Rancho Bernardo, CA
Do you have a sweet tooth? If so, it can be hard to say no to sweet treats. Our ancestors were lucky. Sugar either didn’t exist or was too expensive, which made it a commodity. But now, our modern-day supermarkets are inundated with packaged products containing sugar, and of course, there’s the bakery and candy aisle. In our day and age, sugar is actually really cheap, which is why it’s found in so many products we have available to us. As a Western society, we have become too addicted to sugar and its various forms, most commonly known as high fructose corn syrup. Even bread, crackers, and spaghetti sauce contain sugar! Reluctantly, our culture bears a higher risk of heart disease, diabetes, and tooth decay.
If you find it difficult to resist sugar, we get it. But, for the sake of your teeth, and your overall health, here are six tips to beat your sweet tooth.
- Become aware of your sugar intake
Most people don’t pay too much attention to what they eat or drink. But, just stop to consider how much sugar you’re consuming on a daily basis, and start with drinks. Do you drink soda? Most Americans who regularly drink sodas consume at least two per day. The American Heart Association recommends men consume less than nine teaspoons of sugar each day, and that number slumps to six for women. Just to put that into perspective, a 12-ounce glass of orange juice has about seven and one-half teaspoons of sugar. A soda, more than 10! Even if you don’t drink soda, you might enjoy other sugary beverages, such as sweet tea, fruit juice, energy drinks, or sports drinks, which all can be just as bad for you as far as sugar content. You might want to keep a food journal to track how much sugar you’re getting each day. Check labels because even things you wouldn’t even think has sugar is loaded with it.
- Gradually decrease your sugar intake over time
As you start to take hold of your cravings, reduce your sugar intake by tapering it down a little at a time. Trying to stop cold turkey actually could result in sugar withdrawals, which, while they aren’t life-threatening, they can make you feel quite uncomfortable by causing headaches and fatigue. Gradually decrease your sugar consumption over the course of a week or so. For instance, if you normally drink three sodas a day, start by cutting down to two for a few days, and then to one for about a week. If you’re used to eating dessert after every meal, cut back to only once a day instead. Stay the course for a couple of weeks before cutting it out completely.
- Learn to say no to your cravings
As with making any health changes, learn to say no. Our minds have a funny way of tricking us by making us think we are craving sugar, when in fact, we are just eating it out of bordem or habit. Learn to tell yourself no the next time you reach for that Reese’s cup out of habit. The more times that you can execute power over your decision-making, the easier it becomes.
- Find sugar-free alternatives that are healthy
Sugar-free options can really help offset the difficulties of laying off the sugar. Just be careful not to abuse sugar alternatives, because long-term studies showed that participants actually experienced an increased waist circumference and body weight. Turn to sugar-free alternatives more so at the beginning of your journey to help fight cravings, but don’t become entirely dependent on them for the long-term. Because even with sugar-free alternatives, you’re still technically giving your brain what it wants, and your brain doesn’t know the difference between real sugar and fake sugar. It just knows it got what it wanted. So, you’re not really helping yourself break any habits by trying to trick your brain.
- Incorporate sugar into your diet only occasionally or in small amounts
We understand that sugar is apart of our culture in so many ways. We celebrate birthdays, weddings, and holidays with cakes and dessert. So, eliminating sugar from your diet, and never making any exceptions, may not be realistic for you. Instead, incorporate sugar occasionally or when it’s really important to you, such as your birthday, wedding reception, holiday, or another special occasion that isn’t a daily or weekly occurrence.
- Chew sugar-free gum
If you tend to grab sugar-laden snacks or candy out of habit, keep some sugar-free gum nearby. Pop a piece in your mouth to chew when you get a sugar craving. Not only will the sugar alcohols in the gum help take care of that craving, but it will keep your mouth busy so that you aren’t focused on having a snack that you really don’t need. Also, chewing sugar-free gum that contains Xylitol has actually been proven to help reduce the risk of cavities.
Dentist in Rancho Bernardo
At Smiles by Dr. Cook, we believe in a strong connection between your overall health and your oral health. If you would like to learn more ways to protect your oral health, or to schedule an appointment, just contact Smiles by Dr. Cook today or call (858) 673-0141. We welcome patients of Poway and Rancho Bernardo, California.