Sugar cravings are a common problem, and they can really thwart our efforts to eat healthily and stay fit. We try to resist cravings just to inevitably break down and...
Sugar cravings are a common problem, and they can really thwart our efforts to eat healthily and stay fit. We try to resist cravings just to inevitably break down and overindulge.
That’s because willpower alone isn’t the best way to handle these cravings. When we make an estimated 200 or more food-related decisions per day, willpower can quickly wane. A better strategy is to have healthy alternatives on hand that combat those cravings.
The Problem with Sugar
Sugar can be a real problem for your health. In addition to its link to diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and obesity, sugar is tied to tooth decay and gum disease. Sugar is the preferred food for the harmful bacteria found in your mouth. When these bacteria feed on sugar, they create acidic byproducts that can eat away at tooth enamel, cause tooth decay, and promote gum disease.
Finding healthy alternatives to keep available for when sugar cravings strike may be the way to beat those cravings for good. Here are some options that are beneficial for tooth and gum health, and for overall wellness.
Fruit is a healthy, whole-food option to satisfy your sweet tooth. Natural sugars found in fruit are sweet and satisfying. They are less harmful to your teeth because fruit has fiber and high water content, which counteracts the harmful effects of sugar. A good example is juicy watermelon.
Berries are another perfect choice because they are lower in acid and high in healthy antioxidants. Berries are also low on the glycemic index, so they don’t spike blood sugar. Dates are great option, too. They are savory and sweet. Plus they are packed with fiber, iron, and potassium.
Nuts are a great food for fighting cravings. They are high in omega fats and protein. This combination makes them filling without having any sugar and being very low in carbohydrates. The types of fats in healthy nuts can even lower bad cholesterol levels. Choose your favorite type of nut or pick mixed nuts to get a variety of subtle flavor differences and health benefits.
If you are going to give in to that sweet tooth, go for dark chocolate. The higher the cacao percentage and the lower the sugar content, the better. Unlike sticky or chewy sweets and chocolate bars, pure chocolate is smooth and easily melts off of teeth. Dark chocolate contains antioxidants with anti-inflammatory benefits. Stock up on delicious dark chocolate with at least 70% cocoa for the occasional indulgence.
Avocados are actually a fruit, but they have virtually no sugar content. A whole avocado is only about 300 calories and is chock full of satisfying healthy fats. Avocado is a good addition to bulk up salads, spread on whole wheat toast, or eat by itself for a filling snack.
Chewing on sugar-free gum can be a great way to tackle sugar cravings. Alternative sweeteners like xylitol (which is made from birch bark) tastes sweet but is low in net carbs and calories. In fact, chewing xylitol gum can even help cleanse teeth and remove harmful bacteria by stimulating saliva production.
Dairy products like milk and cheese are excellent for dental health because they contain tooth-healthy calcium. Calcium supports healthy tooth enamel and a strong jaw, which is the foundation of your dental health.
Greek yogurt is high in protein and smoothly satisfying. Studies show that greek yogurt can curb sugar cravings and regulate appetite. Just be sure to read the label and be wary of added sugars.
Hunger can be easily confused with thirst. When a craving strikes, it is always a good idea to have some ice water before giving in. Avoid reaching for soda, energy drinks, or even juice, as those choices are a sneaky source of added sugar with no nutritional value.
Outsmart Your Sweet Tooth With Healthy Choices
Occasional treats are okay, in fact, a planned indulgence that is portion-controlled can prevent a larger binge later on. However, reducing sugar intake is a good move for dental and overall health. Having healthy, go-to options available will be your best defense against those pesky cravings.
Let us know your favorite foods that fight sugar cravings at your next appointment. We love to hear about your tooth-healthy choices!