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We all have a sweet tooth. Sometimes you just have a powerful craving for something that tastes good, whether that something is good for you. It’s normal and happens to every single one of us. However, if we let our sugar craving get too out of control, then we put our overall health at risk. Sometimes a craving can feel too powerful to ignore, but there are ways to get a handle on them and get back in control of our diets and mindsets. Brittany Gibson, for the lifestyle magazine RealSimple, offers insight into our sugar cravings.

What is a Craving

A craving is simply a powerful desire. We often associated the word craving with our favorite foods. According to the health journal Healthline, cravings can be physical or mental. Physical reasons for a craving might be a lack of sleep or nutrition. A mental reason for a craving might be stress or anxiety. In those moments we tend to reach for things that bring us comfort. There are some that believe a craving can be due to a nutrient deficiency, but there isn’t enough research to say for certain.

When it comes to sugar, we crave it partly due to the addictive qualities it has, like drugs. Sugar releases a high concentration of dopamine in our brains, making us feel overly stimulated and gives a false sense of joy. So, in times of heightened stress, whether physically or mentally, we subconsciously crave sugar to feel comfort.

How to Kick the Craving

It’s a little bit of a paradox, but one way to kick a craving is to give into it. When we give into a craving, it’s satisfied and goes away. We can give into our cravings if we’re smart about it; the solution is to prioritize healthier sources of sweetness and natural sugar to stop our cravings.

Additionally, as RealSimple suggests, we can try to better our physical and mental well-being to try and curve any future cravings. Sugar, specifically dessert, is used as a reward. We can find better alternatives to award ourselves for a job well done or special occasion. We reach for sugar treats out of habit, and by doing this we create a different habit that betters our long-term health. Getting better sleeps and using healthy carbs to curve hunger are also excellent tools to help stop sugar cravings.

Finally, managing stress and anxiety is essential. Not just for a happy retirement, but also for better mental health. It’s also the hardest to do. Finding an activity to help relieve stress can be beneficial. For example, yoga or simple exercise can help mitigate stress, as well as open communication. It doesn’t seem like talking would help stop your sugar cravings, but it’s all connected. Sugar is an outlet that makes us feel better, but there are other outlets available.

Small Changes, Big Results

It’s okay to give into a craving now and then. Sometimes, you just really want a piece of chocolate or a glass of wine. The key to health is moderation. Cravings only become a problem when we abandon self-control and give into every single one. We can take back control and strengthen our will power by making simple changes. Slight changes add up to create meaningful results. One step at a time, you can achieve long lasting health. The Council for Retirement Security is working to make sure that every senior has the opportunity for a long and healthy retirement.