Healthy Ways to Satisfy a Sweet Tooth

Is your sweet tooth out of control? Even though there may be a biological explanation for why you crave certain foods, it's important to know that you can train yourself to control your cravings. There are many healthy ways to satisfy a sweet tooth, such as substituting fruit, sugar-free candy, or chewing gum for high-sugar treats. Different techniques work for different people, so experiment until you figure out what works for you.

Understanding Your Sweet Tooth

At some point, everybody has had an urge to satisfy their sweet tooth. Or maybe sweets aren't your thing, and you're the type of person who craves a greasy cheeseburger and salty fries. Do you often wonder what causes these urges or cravings? And are you curious about how you can control them?

The Science: It's All in Your Head

It is literally all in your head. It's your brain, eyes, nose, and even ears that are the culprits. The sight, smell, or thought of food can cause irresistible cravings.
You find yourself salivating and coming up with a plan to get that food that sounds or smells so good. You feel like you would do anything to get your hands on that piece of cheesecake. These behaviors sound much like a drug addict in search of the next fix!
We're not saying that you're an addict or that you can't control these cravings, but it does sound very similar. Your brain is the "bad guy" in this equation. Comfort foods, such as foods high in fat and sugar, stimulate opiate or dopamine receptors in your brain's reward and pleasure center, making you feel good.
One study found that people tend to crave foods higher in the amino acid tryptophan (milk products, meats, grains, etc.). Tryptophan is used to make the neurotransmitter serotonin in your brain. Serotonin has been associated with contributing to feelings of happiness and well-being. Your brain and body know which foods make you feel good, and that is why you tend to crave them.
Some scientists have found that food cravings can also be a learned behavior. If you are hungry or craving a snack and you grab a chocolate bar or bag of chips every time, your body learns to crave these foods.
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