If someone thinks that frequent snacking on various sweets is a pleasure without any risk (apart from the fact of extra kilograms of weight), he is very wrong. The body, especially the brain, becomes as addicted to sugar as to cigarettes, alcohol or even drugs. Moreover, excess sugar leads to severe health complications. How to stop eating sweets? Similarly as in the case of other habits, it requires certain sacrifices and a bit of self-denial, but in return it brings measurable benefits for your health and figure. What is more, unlike alcohol addiction, it does not have to mean complete giving up sweet treats.
Table of contents
- 1 Why do we actually like sweets so much?
- 2 Consequences of excessive consumption of sweets and the benefits of reducing it
- 3 How to stop eating sweets in practice?
- 4 How not to eat sweets? A concrete plan of action
- 5 What is a healthy diet, i.e. we limit the consumption of sweets by changing the menu!
- 6 Healthy home-made substitutes, or what to replace sweets with?
Why do we actually like sweets so much?
It is caused by various factors – evolutionary, psychological, environmental, cultural and finally individual lifestyle and eating habits.
In the course of human evolution, certain mechanisms have evolved to protect the human species from energy shortages. Foods with high sugar and fat content are high in energy, therefore they have always been a valued and valuable meal. Today, in the era of abundance of all food products, reaching for sweets is no longer justified biologically, but atavistic mechanisms remain and, as we can see, they are doing quite well.
The second significant factor which makes it difficult to control the consumption of sugar is a kind of psychological dependence. Eating sweets causes the secretion of the so-called hormones of happiness, endorphin or dopamine, brings relief, pleasure, relieves stress. This is defined psychologically as short-term reinforcement. Fast improvement of mood after eating chocolate makes us treat ourselves to this kind of therapy more and more often and we become more and more addicted to it.
What is worse, this system of reward or compensation is basically instilled in us from childhood (sweets as a reward for good grades) and continued into adulthood. Important family celebrations or holidays with various tempting baked goods contribute to it.
The reason for excessive sugar intake may also be improper, ill-balanced or too low-calorie diet. Since the body does not receive a sufficient dose of energy, there is a desire to eat something that will quickly satisfy the hunger for calories.
Consequences of excessive consumption of sweets and the benefits of reducing it
Every time you eat something sweet, it results in a sudden spike in blood sugar levels. This results in a large release of insulin, which converts excess glucose into glycogen and stores it as body fat. To make matters worse, the larger the dose of sweetness, the greater the insulin output, resulting in a sharp drop in sugar levels and the associated renewed feeling of hunger. The circle closes and the fat tissue increases its volume.
In addition, high blood glucose levels inevitably lead to serious diseases – diabetes, cardiovascular problems, worsening of mood, increased fatigue, trouble sleeping or excessive sluggishness, and even accelerated aging of the skin. On the other hand, if we limit the intake of sweets, we will gain not only better mood and vigor, but also a slimmer figure, nicer skin and, above all, minimize the risk of diabetes and other diseases associated with overweight and obesity.
Read also: Diabetic diet
How to stop eating sweets in practice?
In the first place, we must answer the question: what do we really want to achieve? Do we want to reduce the intake of sweets or give them up completely? It should be stressed that absolute abstinence in this area is not an ideal solution at all, at least not for everyone.
For many people, a more reasonable solution, which is in accordance with their natural needs, is to limit eating sweets and, above all, regain control over it. Reaching for substitutes with much lower sugar content is also a good way to break the habit.
As with solving any other problem, you need to start by preparing a detailed strategy that will enable you to achieve your desired goal.
It is necessary to make a kind of self-analysis, answering a few basic questions:
- Do we want to limit eating sweets or give them up altogether?
- In what situations do we reach for them most often?
- What methods will we use to achieve the goal?
- What will we do if we break the rules?
- When do we want to stop?
When it comes to the date of realization and the final result, it’s a good idea to divide your actions into smaller, easier to achieve stages, for example – in the next week I’ll stop eating candy bars, or – in 2 weeks I’ll give up eating desserts after lunch.
How not to eat sweets? A concrete plan of action
- Theanswer to the question when we most often reach for sweets is to help diagnose the situation and find another way of satisfying emotions. It’s about breaking the pattern of: I’m upset, so I eat a portion of ice cream. We need to look for another way to relieve tension, such as: I’m upset, so I exercise to the rhythm of music for 15 minutes.
- Set a schedule with deadlines, tasks and steps. For example, if we used to eat sweets several times a day, we decide that from tomorrow we will eat only once, from next week, once every two days, in the next week, once every three days and so on. It is worth introducing additional restrictions, such as: not eating sweets after 7 p.m., eating high quality products, and preferably prepared by yourself.
- We deliberately make the access to sweets more difficult. We do not keep them at home, if we eat them, it is only outside the house. When we feel a craving for sweets, we perform simple activities which interrupt the automatic reaction of reaching for sweets. This might be deep breathing and counting to 20, some exercise, or even dusting or tidying up a cupboard.
- Since the craving for sweets is often connected with an improper diet, asking ourselves how to stop eating sweets, we must also analyze our menu. A low-calorie or low-diversity diet may trigger a reaction of the organism demanding an increased dose of energy, and this is most easily delivered by a product with a high sugar and fat content. Hence the irresistible desire to eat something “good”.
According to the latest food pyramid developed by the World Health Organization, vegetables and fruit should form the basis of our menu. In principle, each meal of the day should contain one or the other.
Especially vegetables, low-calorie and low-sugar, containing vitamins, minerals and fibre, perfectly satisfy the appetite and have a beneficial effect on the digestive system. They also show strong anti-cancer effects. So let’s make salads of them, squeeze fresh juices, finally eat them raw instead of a sweet snack.
Contemporary dietetics recommends eating both of them in the following proportions – vegetables ¾, and fruit ¼. Let’s choose fruit with a low glycemic index: apples, pears, currants, cherries, raspberries, grapefruit, gooseberries, blueberries, plums. Add them, fresh or dried, to your meals, for example to muesli for breakfast or as an afternoon snack instead of a doughnut.
Let’s remember about nuts, seeds. Rich in vitamins and minerals, they can, along with dried fruit, be a great alternative to crisps and other unhealthy snacks.
Another element of the nutritional pyramid, cereal products, are also worth revision. Instead of wheat bread, let’s reach for wholemeal, rye, oat, graham, spelt, linseed or rice wafers. The menu should include as often as possible thick groats, brown rice, wholemeal pasta, bran, oatmeal and rye.
Dairy products, essential for the body, are of course recommended, but they should not be flavoured cheese or yoghurt, the fewer artificial additives harmful to health, the better. We limit the intake of meat, we prefer fish, but both not too often, two or three times a week is enough.
Healthy home-made substitutes, or what to replace sweets with?
Such widely loved sweets provide only empty calories, do not provide the body with necessary nutrients, and contribute only to the growth of fat reserves. Limiting the consumption of sweets, it is worth to reach for a variety of substitutes giving the feeling of satisfying the craving and at the same time more valuable.
The simplest way is to replace a sweet biscuit with a homemade oat cake, a cream cake with a bean brownie or, even better, a chocolate bar or other sweet treat with an apple or carrot. If we absolutely must eat some confectionery from time to time, we should try to make them ourselves, using homemade methods, and replace traditional white sugar with honey, xylitol, erythrol or stevia.
A few recipes for homemade sweets
Chocolate and buckwheat bars
- one and a half cups of expanded buckwheat
- 25 g dark chocolate
- 2 tablespoons of almond milk
- 2 teaspoons honey
Melt chocolate in a container placed over boiling water, add honey, milk and buckwheat, mix, then pour into a dish lined with aluminum foil and put in the fridge. After a few hours remove and cut into oblong rectangles.
Walnut and lingonberry balls
- 4-5 dried apricots
- 20 g nuts
- coconut or sesame seeds
Pour boiling water over fruits and nuts for about 10 minutes. Drain and blend, then form balls and coat in sesame seeds or shavings.
Carrot cake with fit cream
- 200 g finely grated carrots
- 200 g spelt flour
- 3 eggs
- ¾ cup xylitol
- 3 tbsp thick natural yoghurt
- half a glass of rapeseed oil
- 2 teaspoons of baking powder
- lemon peel
- For the cream: 125 g natural cream cheese, 50 g butter, 3 tbsp xylitol powder
Beat eggs with xylitol until cogel-mogel, gradually add grated carrot, yogurt, sifted flour mixed with baking powder, cinnamon, lemon zest and finally oil. Gently mix until all the ingredients are combined. Put the mixture into a baking pan lined with baking paper, bake for about 40 minutes in an oven preheated to 180 degrees.
Mix all the ingredients for the cream in a bowl, pour it over the cooled cake, sprinkle with powdered sugar and put in the fridge for at least an hour.
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