Taming that Doggone Sweet Tooth

One of the most common complaints I hear as a trainer is, “I’ve been doing so well with my eating, except for my darn sweet tooth.”  Well, I think it’s safe to say that most people feel the same way.  So the good news is, you’re not alone! 

But what causes us to have those sometimes-uncontrollable cravings for sweets? Is it a lack of self-control?

Let’s explore one of the possible reasons we get these “sweet teeth,” and what steps we can take to fend off the urge to indulge!

Causes of the Infamous Sweet Tooth

We all know the feeling.  You’re eating dinner and all you can think about is what’s for dessert.  Or maybe you’re at the office and you can hear the little mini Reese’s calling your name.  (Don’t laugh.  I’ve heard them.)

No matter what the situation, the urge can be unbearable at times!  Why is this? 

It’s been proven that sugar can have an addictive effect on your brain. Basically, what this means is that when you indulge in junk foods loaded in sugar, your brain releases dopamine (a neurotransmitter that gives you “warm fuzzies”).  So, during the time you are consuming some form of sugary junk food, your brain is releasing a feel-good sensation throughout your body.  You’re getting a very real “sugar high.” 

Many studies have been conducted on this so-called sugar high. One of the most interesting was done by a professor from Princeton University, Bart Hoebel.  He used rats to demonstrate sugar’s effects on the brain.  For one full month, Dr. Hoebel fed his test subjects nothing but high sugar fluids.  During this time, he noted that the rats’ dopamine receptors were activated.  The animals became addicted to the sugar fluid and wanted more and more each day.  Over the course of the month, the rats developed more dopamine receptors in their brains.  At the conclusion of his research, Hoebel took the rats off the sugar fluid diet and noted that they exhibited classic symptoms of withdrawal.

Crazy, right? If rats can become literally addicted to sugar as if it were a drug, in just one month’s time, it’s not hard to see how our very own sweet tooth can become virtually uncontrollable.

Okay, so now what?

Now that we understand a little bit more about the effects sugar can have on our brain, let’s not overlook the toll it can take on your body!  Most sugary-sweet junk foods are also loaded with fat and calories. This can wreak havoc on your health and fitness goals!  So the next time you’re eating dinner or sitting in your office surrounded by junk food, remember this: Your body does not need that sugar! 

Take a deep breath and remind yourself of the harm it can do to your brain, as well as your body. Treat sugar like an addictive drug if you have to.  Keep telling yourself: It’s just not worth it! You have self-control in other areas of your life.  Use it to tame those urges caused by your sweet tooth! 

After all, wouldn’t it be better to have a sweet body?

Chani Overstreet is an NASM Certified Personal Trainer and co-owner of Strada Fitness & Wellness Center with her husband, Luke.  Strada is a state-of-the-art fitness studio located at 3041 Churchill Drive, Suite 100, in Flower Mound, across from Lifetime Fitness.  Call 972.330.4300 or visit www.StradaFitness.com for more information.


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