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How to Avoid Sugar Cravings

Closeup image of a woman holding colorful jelly gummy bears in handsSugar cravings are something we all experience from time to time. We snack when we are bored, when we are stressed, or simply just because! Upon consumption, the “sugar rush” comes from a release of dopamine (the feel-good chemical) in our bodies. As a result, our body enters into a dangerous cycle where it relies on sugar to provide a release of dopamine as our minds associate it as a reward. It then becomes difficult to refrain from snacking subconsciously to boost our mood because sugar is so easily accessible.

Even more dangerous are the long-term effects that constant sugar consumption can have on our teeth and enamel. Foods high in sugars can be destructive to our teeth, especially if we are not brushing properly afterwards.

The effects of sugar on our teeth

When you consume sugar, it immediately begins interacting with the plaque bacteria to produce acid. The acid then dissolves your enamel slowly, creating the cavities in your teeth, thereby making the acid the culprit for tooth decay — not the sugar. The extent of the decay can then vary and result in needing treatments such as fillings, onlays, crowns, root canals, or in worst case scenarios, a tooth extraction.

Here are a few simple steps to help fight back against sugar cravings and protect our teeth!

Keep healthier alternatives on standby!

When cravings come, we are not necessarily hungry, but our brains are looking for that reward. Strategies to avoid packing on pounds and consuming sweets include looking to start with water consumption,  healthy food alternatives such as fruits, vegetables, healthy smoothies, or Greek yogurt, which can all satisfy the same need for our bodies. More importantly, if you consistently substitute a healthy alternative for a sugary snack, our brains will begin to associate that healthy option with the reward it is looking for so we can train our brains to crave healthy foods. This not only helps to fight off against sugar cravings but is also crucial when trying to lose weight. Associating foods like watermelon, which is high in water density and low in calories, can make us feel full and ward off the craving for sugar.

If a craving does come out of hunger, it can be even more dangerous!  This is when we might find ourselves going through an entire sleeve of cookies, or a full bag of chips. Sugary foods, while high in calories, are not high in protein or fiber which are responsible for giving us that “full” feeling meaning we are likely to consume more.  If you find yourself constantly craving sugar while hungry, it would be helpful to prepare pre-made meals that are quick and easy to serve!

Foods like Greek yogurt, trail mix, and eggs are all high in protein which will help us to feel full while also curbing our sugar cravings!

Get some exercise

Cravings come when we are looking for a quick release of dopamine, but there are plenty of opportunities to give our bodies the same effect without the need to consume food that can be potentially harmful to our teeth and gums.

Going for a walk or run, visiting the gym, and giving our body exercise will release dopamine in our bodies and satisfy the same craving. There are plenty of indoor exercises as well such as push-ups, sit ups, jumping jacks, even running in place are all alternatives that will release dopamine rather than consuming sugar.

Perform self care

If you find yourself craving sugary snacks more frequently, take some time to evaluate if you have had any lifestyle changes recently that may have incited those cravings. Are you brushing your teeth properly every day? Have you been sleeping properly? Are you drinking enough water throughout the day? Have you taken on more stress?

Being sure to maintain proper health both physically and mentally may be the solution to decreasing your sugar cravings. All of us fall out of our routines now and again. The most important thing is to get back on track, and that can be as easy as remembering to brush our teeth when we start our days to put us on the right track.

Eat proper meals, drink plenty of water, and when cravings do come, be sure to replace them with a healthier option. Your body, mind, and teeth will all thank you!

Schedule an appointment today

Consuming high amounts of sugar can lead to cavities forming which need to be treated by a dentist. Be sure to schedule your appointment for a proper cleaning, where our professional staff can determine if you have developed any cavities before it becomes a major issue! We proudly serve patients in the New York Metropolitan area, NJ and Connecticut. To schedule a visit at a location near you, call 844.365.DENTAL.

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