CHICOPEE, Mass. (Mass Appeal) – Sugar cravings are one of the main reasons people have a hard time losing weight. Recent studies indicate that the average American consumers 22 teaspoons of sugar every day, but how can you curb your cravings?How to Control Sugar CravingsAre we born with a sweet tooth?

We are not born with a sweet tooth but the more sugar we eat, the more sugar we need. In fact, a study in the journal Neuroscience shows sugar is as addictive as cocaine. So going “cold turkey” and giving up all sugar can feel like being in detox.Besides sweets, where does sugar sneak into our diet?

At least half of the sugar we consume comes from soft drinks, fruit drinks and sports drinks. The rest sneaks into our diets in ketchup, teriyaki sauce, chocolate milk and the obvious sweets like cookies, cakes, ice cream and even breakfast cereal.What makes us crave?

There may be many reasons you crave sweets. It could be due to a drop of serotonin in the brain. Serotonin is our feel good brain chemical. It starts out high in the morning and reaches a low around 4 PM. Carbohydrates and sweets raise serotonin so you may crave them when serotonin needs a boost. You may also crave sweets simply because you see them. You see a commercial for a chocolate bar or see the cookies hidden in the back of the pantry and naturally, your brain starts to think about how good it would taste. It is especially hard to fight off the signals if you are tired at the end of a busy day. In addition a stressful day may also trigger the craving because sweets are comfort foods. If any of these cues happen regularly at 5 PM, your brain is rewired to automatically crave at 5 PM or maybe after a meal you are used to dessert. Habit. A trigger can be an emotion like stress. Stressed backwards spells “desserts”. Sweets comfort us for a little while, they feel good. Or a trigger can be smelling or having 1 bite of a sweet. Walking into the mall and smell the cinnamon bun, me just mentioning it now can make you say – oh yea, that would be good. Commecials.How do we control cravings?

1. Cold Turkey – Try to keep sugar out of your house and work place so you don’t give into temptation. Out of sight, out of mind. If I don’t buy it/see it I don’t eat it. You could go “cold turkey” and give up all sugar. It can feel like being in detox. The first 48 to 72 hours are tough. If that is not your style, wean yourself off gradually.

2. Wean off. Buy just 1 sweet item at a time rather than a whole package. Buy a less sweet version of your favorite treat like a vanilla wafer cookie instead of an Oreo or some dark chocolate instead of milk chocolate. Doing this makes your taste buds more sensitive to the sweet flavor and eventually fruit will taste really sweet to you and you can use fruit to satisfy your cravings.

3. Write. Researchers find it helps to write why you do not want to eat sweets and post it on the fridge to interrupt your thoughts about sweets. (Causes heart disease, wrinkles, feel out of control, tired)

4. Exercise. you can crush a craving with exercise. Researchers studied chocoholics and found those who walked for 15 minutes when they craved chocolate had a dramatic decrease in cravings compared to the couch-potato group. The activity releases feel-good brain chemicals that cut the craving. Practice these tips and your resistance to cravings get stronger just like a muscle.

5. Peppermint. Researchers at Wheeling Jesuit University have found a way to counteract the cravings. The solution is sniffing peppermint. The study had volunteers sniff peppermint every two hours or do nothing. The peppermint sniffers were not as hungry as non-sniffers and -this is big – they ate 2800 fewer calories in a week. That’s enough to lose close to one pound each week. Researchers say the peppermint distracts you from your hunger pains and as a result you eat less. In addition peppermint could help control emotional eating. Now, eating peppermint candy or chewing peppermint gum does NOT work as well. It is best to buy peppermint oil and dab it on your wrist so you can easily sniff it or buy a peppermint inhaler for about ten bucks. Check on line or in Nutrition stores for either product. Studies did not use a peppermint candle but maybe that would work too.

6. Avoid juice at breakfast. If you drink juice with your breakfast, you may be setting yourself up for cravings. In one study of overweight people , researchers compared people who drank juice in the morning to those who drank skim milk. The milk drinkers reported being fuller and more satisfied and ate less at lunch than the juice drinkers. The milk contains proteins that suppress hunger while the carbs in the juice may stimulate hunger. You can get your milk, still have some colorful fruit, and avoid cravings by making a smoothie for breakfast.What about the idea of having just 1 bite of the food you crave?

You may be able to have 1 bite if there is only 1 bite in the house. But the most recent research shows, 1 bite of ice cream, pizza, chocolate, or potato chips, caused people to overindulge 25 minutes later. Know yourself and know your triggers.What about the idea of having just 1 bite of the food you crave?

You may be able to have 1 bite if there is only 1 bite in the house. But the most recent research shows, 1 bite of ice cream or chocolate caused people to overindulge 25 minutes later.