Anyone with a sweet tooth will tell you how hard it is to stop yourself from reaching out to a brownie or a cupcake in front of you. Sugar cravings are real and they can affect some people more than others. If you make it into the list of those that are affected by this unhealthy urge, this blog post is just for you.
It’s no surprise that sugar is terrible for our oral health. Since we were little kids, we’ve been taught to keep our candy intake to a minimum for fear of dental caries. That applies to adults as well. Too much sugar can cause cavities and caries in your teeth and not even the best mouthwash or an expensive toothbrush can help once your teeth are damaged.
How Does Sugar Affect Your Teeth?
Before we get into how you can curb your sugar cravings, let’s review how sugar can actually cause the cavities in the first place.
The bacteria in your oral cavity, like any living organism, need sugar to survive and carry out important cellular functions. When we consume sugary foods, these bacteria use the sugar to produce several acidic byproducts that can directly damage the teeth.
The higher the sugar content in the food or beverage you take, the higher your risk of cares.
Over time, these bacteria with the help of the sugar you’re consuming causes the enamel on your tooth to start dissolving. The enamel plays an important protective role for your teeth so for it to be lost is a serious problem.
Eventually, if the sugar intake is not controlled and oral hygiene is not maintained, the tooth begins to erode and decay. This can cause a permanent loss of tooth structure that cannot be repaired without the help of surgery.
Apart from acting as an energy source for the bacteria in your mouth, sugar also has the notorious property of attracting bad bacteria and resulting in a low pH in your mouth. The normal pH of your mouth is around 7. When this number drops there are much higher chances of tooth decay.
How Can You Prevent Cavities and Caries?
Of course, the number one way to prevent tooth decay, cavities or dental caries from ever happening is by reducing your sugar intake. Sweets, fizzy drinks and other foods rich in sugar are a no-no.
You can also reduce the likelihood of getting cavities in your teeth by investing your time in proper brushing technique. Flossing the tight areas between the teeth is also essential for excellent oral hygiene as is rinsing your mouth with a powerful dental mouthwash.
In short, every measure that can decrease the number of bad bacteria in your mouth can help you fight against tooth decay.
How Can You Curb Your Sugar Cravings?
Sugar addicts know it’s no simple job to curb your sugar cravings. In fact, for some, it feels like an impossible feat. But the truth is, with a strong motive and willpower you can most definitely cut back on your sugar and do your teeth favour!
#1: It’s just a craving!
Realizing that craving is just a psychological urge to devour a particular food item (in this case sugar) and not actual hunger is the first step to recovery.
You should remind yourself that even if you don’t listen to your sweet tooth urges you won’t have hunger pangs!
#2: Reach out for healthier options instead
It’s tempting to go for chocolate instead of broccoli but when you really want to curb your sugar cravings you’ll need to look for alternatives. Eating a healthier, more filling diet is always better than any sugary food. This requires a good amount of resolve but anything is possible if you want it to be!
One good idea to get the best of both worlds is to combine ingredients. If you really can’t live without that milk chocolate, you can consume it in a different way. How about chocolate-covered strawberries? You’ll get your sugar dose (in reduced, acceptable amounts of course!) and you’ll get a healthy portion of calories in.
#3: Think about fruits instead
When we talk about sugar cravings we’re mainly referring to processed sugar and not the natural sugar we get from fruits. Perhaps it’s time to change that mindset and train your brain into liking natural sugars as well.
Fruits are always a healthy option if you’ve got an avid sweet tooth. They give you a boost of sweetness all the while keeping things healthy for your teeth. Bananas, strawberries, dried fruits are all great sources of natural sweetness.
#4: How about a chewing gum?
Chewing gum has been a popular tool in the dieting market because it is believed to help you reduce all kinds of food cravings. If you have a serious sugar addiction, maybe chewing gum will keep your mind off that apple pie you were thinking of eating later.
It’s even better if you chew on unsweetened chewing gum!
#5: Try artificial sweeteners instead
Some people find it hard to enjoy their food without a touch of sweetness. This can be done artificially with the help of sugar substitutes like Splenda and Stevia. Although real sugar addicts will be able to tell the difference, most people won’t.
You can also use diet fizzy drinks instead of the regular ones if you have an occasional fizzy drink craving.
However, it should be remembered that these sugar substitutes are not safe for everyone. People who have an inherent deficiency in an enzyme that breaks down artificial sugar (phenylketonuria) should strictly avoid them. Similarly drinking too much diet fizzy drink can lead to a paradoxical increase in your sugar cravings. Plus, it’s not really great for your health anyway!
#6: Don’t be too hard on yourself!
It’s OK to give in a little to your sugar cravings and enjoy your favourite foods occasionally. Being too hard on yourself won’t do your mental health any good anyway. An occasional cheat day is completely fine as long as you know you won’t make it a habit!