Sugar occurs naturally in all foods that contain carbohydrates such as fruits and vegetables, grains and dairy. But it has a bad reputation when it comes to health.
Further problems occur when you consume too much added sugar — that is, sugar that food manufacturers add to products to increase flavour or extend shelf life, according to Harvard health medical publishing.
Consuming too much added sugar can raise blood pressure and increase chronic inflammation, both of which are pathological pathways to heart disease.
Excess consumption of sugar, especially in sugary beverages, also contributes to weight gain by tricking your body into turning off its appetite-control system because liquid calories are not as satisfying as calories from solid foods.
This is why it is easier for people to add more calories to their regular diet when consuming sugary beverages.
There have been several studies highlighting the negative impacts of excessive sugar consumption on health.
For example, a study published in JAMA Internal Medicine in 2014 found that a high intake of added sugar was associated with a significantly increased risk of dying from cardiovascular disease.
Another study published in the journal Circulation in 2017 showed a strong correlation between sugary beverage consumption and an increased risk of obesity, type 2 diabetes, and cardiovascular diseases.
A review published in the British Medical Journal in 2013 analysed various studies and concluded that higher sugar intake, especially from sugar-sweetened beverages, was consistently linked to weight gain and increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
Here are 6 ways to fight sugar cravings in your diet:
Reach out for fruit instead
If you get sugar cravings often, it's best to keep fruits around. You will get the sweetness you crave as well as the fibre found in fruit, and your digestive system will thank you for it.
Read food labels
Be aware of hidden sugars. Read food labels carefully and look for hidden sugars in processed foods like cereals, snacks, sauces and salad dressings. Ingredients like sucrose, glucose, fructose, dextrose and corn syrup indicate the presence of sugars.
Choose whole foods
Base your meals around whole, unprocessed foods like fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, whole grains, and legumes. These foods tend to be lower in added sugars compared to processed options.
Give in a little
You do not have to go cold turkey when fighting sugar cravings. Taking a bite of chocolate here and there can help you steer clear of feeling denied and then overdoing it in the end as a result.
Sugar cravings usually occur when you wait too long between meals to eat. Eating small meals every 3 to 5 hours helps keep blood sugar levels stable while avoiding irrational eating behaviour.
Instead of opting for sweet desserts, you can try going fifty-fifty like a chocolate-dipped strawberry
The American Heart Association suggests that women consume no more than 100 calories (about 6 teaspoons or 24 grams) and men no more than 150 calories (about 9 teaspoons or 36 grams) of added sugar per day.