Well then you are not alone! Actually, most people on the planet have an occasionally sweet tooth… Sweet tastes are regarded as a pleasurable experience. They are something nice that makes us happy. And this is no coincidence.
Several studies show that responsiveness to sweetness has very ancient evolutionary beginnings. And newborn babies actually have a preference for very sweet things, like breast milk. So you could say, that human beings are born with a sweet tooth – even before they get any teeth…
What is sweet?
When talking about the taste of sweetness, most people tend to think about sugar. Sugar can be divided into natural sugars, called intrinsic sugars and free sugars. The intrinsic sugars are naturally found in fruits, vegetables and milk. These sugars are absolutely fine, and there is no reported evidence of adverse effects from consuming them.
Free sugars are sugars that are added to foods and beverages for preservation, taste etc. They are also naturally present in honey, syrups, fruit juices and fruit juice concentrates. These free sugars can be bad for your teeth and health, and you should therefore try to limit your intake of them.
In both adults and children, WHO recommends reducing the intake of free sugars to less than 10% of total energy intake, and preferably down to below 5%.
Why is sugar bad for your health?
Well, added sugar in large amounts is not a very good idea. And there are actually quite a lot of reasons for this…
First of all, you get a lot of calories from added sugars, but they do not give you any essential nutrients – so you just get a lot of empty calories instead of good nutrients, like vitamins, proteins, minerals etc.. This can lead to overweight and malnutrition.
Another disadvantage of the added sugars is the fact that they are very bad for your dental health. This is because the sugars feed the harmful bacteria in your mouth, which can lead to tooth decay.
If we eat too much added sugar, we also risk damaging our liver. When we eat sugar, it is broken down to glucose and fructose, which are stored in our liver as glycogen, until this is needed for energy. But if we eat too much sugar, the liver fills up with glycogen, which will overload the liver and force it to turn the fructose into fat instead. This can lead to fatty liver, if we eat large amounts of sugar repeatedly. And fatty liver can be a serious health problem.
Eating too much sugar can also cause insulin resistance, which can lead to diabetes, overweight, obesity, metabolic problems and cardiovascular disease.
Oh, and people who eat (or drink) a lot of sugar tend to eat more, than those who do not eat as much sugar… So they will get more calories throughout the day, and will increase their risk of becoming overweight.
10 TIPS TO CUT DOWN ON YOUR SUGAR INTAKE
So now you know how bad too much sugar can be for you. But this does not mean, that you cannot still satisfy your sweet tooth! Of course, you can eat sweet foods, you just have to choose the right ones…
Instead of a Snickers bar try 10-15 almonds. They are packed with protein, fibres and healthy fatty acids that are good for you.
Maybe you could even try adding a bit of cocoa powder, which will add some sweetness to them.
2. Peppermint tea
Do you like a piece of peppermint chocolate?
Well, try a cup of peppermint tea with a bit of skimmed milk instead. If has very few calories, and it will help your digestion.
So, drink it after your lunch or dinner.
3. Addicted to jelly beans and gums?
Try some frozen grapes instead. They are sweet, crunchy and a whole lot healthier…
4. Banana and peanut butter
Cut a banana into 1 cm pieces and make small sandwiches with two pieces of banana with peanut butter in between.
It is rich and sweet and gives you protein, fibres and healthy fat.
5. Dark chocolate
Instead of a chocolate bar try eating 10-20 gram of dark chocolate (70-80%). It is filled with antioxidants and easily fulfil your need for something sweet.
6. Fresh fruit
Berries especially, but also other fresh fruits, can be a very good way to satisfy your sweet tooth.
Try a handful of strawberries or blueberries or maybe a cup of melon or pineapple.
7. Addicted to icecream?
Try making your own using frozen bananas, Greek yoghurt and dates instead.
You can also add a bit of vanilla or you could try adding flavour with strawberries, mango etc.
8. Cherry tomatoes
They are sweet and savoury and they do not contain many calories, so you can easily eat 1 or 2 cups as a sweet snack.
If you want something crunchy, instead of going for a bag of chips, try some baby carrots. They are filled with fibres and they taste sweet and leave you with a good conscience.
10. Sugar free gum
This can be a fine alternative to the candy bowl. Find your favourite flavour and take a piece if the lust for something sweet gets to big.
But be aware that too much sugar free gum (or candy) can act as a laxative.
Did you know?
- That eating sugar can give you wrinkles, because sugar can affect the elasticity of your skin?
- That cats cannot taste sweetness?
- That sugar is addictive? Quitting sugar abruptly can cause pain, nausea and flu-like symptoms
- That sugar does not create feelings of satiety? So, if you are hungry you should go for some protein, fibres etc. instead
- That the sweetest compound known is called Lugduname? It is over 20,000 times sweeter than sugar