During the holiday season, many of us indulge in more sugary treats than usual. But eating a lot of desserts can leave us with sugar cravings that last well into the new year — and beyond. Research has shown that sugar may have addictive properties — and while consuming sweets may feel blissful in the moment, such foods are best enjoyed in moderation. Going cold turkey on sugar might be too difficult, but there are some proven ways to keep those pesky cravings at bay. Here are three science-backed strategies to stop sugar cravings and keep them from returning, so you can focus on enjoying healthier foods.
1. To ward off cravings… Wear a Rosy Hue
Slip on a pink scarf, cardigan, or socks, and you may find you limit your sugar cravings without trying. A small study in the journal Frontiers in Nutrition found that when participants were given a pink mouth rinse, they ran faster and enjoyed their runs more than those who were given a clear mouth rinse that tasted the same. The study authors noted that the “feel good” effect of the pink mouth rinse may have been due to the color’s associations with sweetness. In other words, pink’s sweet and uplifting appearance may give you a sugar high without having to consume actual sugar.
2. When cravings strike… Sniff an Orange
If chocolate truffles are calling your name, grab an orange and take a slow, deep whiff. Doing so may quickly tamp down cravings. Research in Eating Behaviors found that some subjects who sniffed an orange (referred to as a “diet-congruent food cue”) ate less chocolate after this exposure to a healthier food. Additionally, the scent of orange essential oil has been shown to help some people run faster and improve their lung function, so citrus may help your energy levels.
3. To keep cravings from returning… Play a Quick Game
Instead of white-knuckling your way through a craving, play a game on your phone. A study in the journal Addictive Behaviors found that participants who played a game (in this case, Tetris) on their phones reported fewer cravings for drugs (alcohol, nicotine, caffeine), food and drink, and certain activities. The focus you bring to playing a game may be an effective form of distraction from cravings. Phone games may also cause your dopamine levels to surge, and sugar can have a similar effect. Just be careful to play games in moderation — like sugar, they can also be addictive.
This content is not a substitute for professional medical advice or diagnosis. Always consult your physician before pursuing any treatment plan.
This article originally appeared in our print magazine, Woman’s World.
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