Taming the Sweet Tooth

Taming the Sweet Tooth

By Laurie Lyon

Have you ever wondered why it can be so difficult to turn down a sweet dessert? Some researchers think the answer lies in how sugar triggers the brain’s pleasure center, which is closely linked to addictive behavior, and releases the neurotransmitter dopamine, which makes you feel wonderful. Indeed, the brain reacts so strongly to sugar that some experts believe it rivals the addictive power of cocaine!1

While our bodies need sugar in the form of glucose to survive, many of us eat far too much of the sweet stuff—on average, two to three times the amount recommended by the World Health Organization. But the fact is, we don’t need any added sugar in our diet; all the glucose needed for optimal health is provided naturally in unprocessed fruits, nuts, seeds, grains, and vegetables. 

But is added sugar really all that bad? The truth is that the average human body can handle an occasional treat; it’s when sugary foods are consumed regularly that health can be endangered. As the Bible puts it, “It is not good to eat too much honey” (Proverbs 25:27).

We know that excess sugar causes inflammation and insulin resistance—a perfect setup for a host of chronic diseases and conditions we all want to avoid, including heart disease, diabetes, and cognitive decline, to name a few. 2, 3

Eat more sweets, and you’ll crave more—and so begins a potentially destructive cycle. If you’ve been caught in this cycle, take heart! Here are a few tips for breaking sugar’s grip:

  1. Guard against hidden sugar in processed foods. Familiarize yourself with the various aliases for sugar, then read labels carefully.

  2. Replace sweets with healthier options. Whole fruits make a great dessert for most people; consumed in moderation, the fruit’s fiber slows metabolism of the sugar, preventing blood-sugar spikes. Make popsicles from whole blended fruit without added sweeteners, or create an ice cream substitute with whole frozen fruit blended or processed using an appliance made for the purpose, such as a Yonanas machine.

  3. When baking for special occasions, use sweeteners with a low glycemic index, such as stevia or monk fruit.

  4. Try substituting non-sweet, savory desserts.

  5. Drink plenty of water to curb cravings between meals.

  6. Exercise more; a brisk walk, for instance, releases endorphins that can weaken cravings for sugary foods.

If you’ve been sugar-bingeing for years, don’t expect your cravings to disappear overnight; it can take several weeks to retrain your appetite. Be persistent—and ask God to strengthen you. He wants His children to be healthy and has promised He “will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able” (1 Corinthians 10:13). With His help, you can kick the sugar habit for good! 

1Is Sugar an Addictive Drug? https://www.healthline.com/health/food-nutrition/experts-is-sugar-addictive-drug#What-is-an-addiction?

2The Sweet Danger of Sugar. https://www.health.harvard.edu/heart-health/the-sweet-danger-of-sugar

3Dietary Sugar Intake Associated with a Higher Risk of Dementia in Community-Dwelling Older Adults – PMC. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC10921393

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