You know that sugar isn't good for your health. But it also tastes great.
Eating too much of it is associated with obesity, heart disease, and diabetes. But, again, delicious.
So, BuzzFeed Health reached out to two experts from Precision Nutrition: Krista Scott-Dixon, director of education, and registered dietitian Brian St. Pierre; plus Dr. Holly Lofton, director of the Medical Weight Management Program at NYU Langone Medical Center. Here are their tips for understanding your sugar cravings and learning how to lessen them.
First, figure out whether or not you really need to cut down on sugar.
Here's a simple way to tell if you're eating too much sugar.
It turns out that our brains legit find sugar really rewarding.
What happens is that eating something sugary causes the release of insulin, whose job it is to take that sugar out of the bloodstream. The insulin does this but leaves behind tryptophan, which cues the production of serotonin. Serotonin is the neurotransmitter that's responsible for improving your mood and making you feel calm, relaxed, and at ease.
TL;DR: You eat a sugary thing and your brain produces a rush of a chemicals that makes you feel A-OK, explains Lofton.
Which is part of the reason we crave sweet stuff.
Lofton explains that when your serotonin levels drop — maybe because you're bored or sad or your boss just yelled at you — you crave something that'll pick them back up again. One of the reasons an ice cream sundae seems like the solution to all your problems is because your brain's reward center has actually learned to associate that sugary treat with that increase in serotonin that makes you feel better.