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The bitter truth

You know you’ve been cursed with a sweet tooth if you find yourself craving a bit of sweet often during the day. You know you have it bad when the tiny bite from the cake turns into greedy demolition of an entire slice.

health and fitness Updated: Sep 23, 2009 19:29 IST
Dr Anjali Mukerjee

You know you’ve been cursed with a sweet tooth if you find yourself craving a bit of sweet often during the day. You know you have it bad when the tiny bite from the cake turns into greedy demolition of an entire slice.

What causes the craving?
Eating a dessert is a pleasant way to end a meal, but sweets can get harmful when used as comfort food to quell loneliness, insecurity or depression with the temporary high offered by them. Cravings are often triggered by stress. In such a situation, the sugar craving is the body’s way of signalling that it needs glucose to keep it going. The moment sugar enters the system, serotonin, the body’s ‘feel good’ hormone is released.

Why is it harmful?
Though consuming sugar gives you an instant boost in energy and mood, the subsequent dip can be equally extreme. This low will make your body crave more sugar and over time, increase your body’s dependence on sugar to provide an instant boost.
Sugar depletes the body of vital nutrients and causes drastic mood swings, affecting brain function. Researchers at Harvard School of Public Health have revealed a strong link between the consumption of refined carbohydrates and increased risk of breast cancer. Plus, too much sugar makes you fat.

Tips to beat your craving
* Eat protein like egg whites, soya granules, chicken, fish, dal, paneer, with every meal.
* Eat small, frequent meals. Long gaps between meals cause drastic fluctuations in the blood sugar levels, besides making you eat big portions at mealtime.
* Start exercising regularly either in the gym or at a fun dance class. The trick is to find something you will stick with. Exercise releases endorphins that make you feel good.
* Get rid of all the sweet stuff in your house. When you feel like rewarding yourself, have a double dose of health with chocolate-coated fruits. Dip fresh fruits like strawberry, apple, banana, in melted dark (sugar free) chocolate. This will fulfill your craving and add some anti-oxidants and fibre to your diet.
* Have sorbets (frozen fruit treats). Freeze your favourite fruit juice, blend it, and then perk it up with some lemon juice and rock salt.
* Freeze bite size watermelon cubes and snack on them when you have a sugar craving. Eat fruits like apples, grapes, papaya and chikoo.
* Sweeten desserts with jaggery, honey or dates, which are slow-releasing sugars.
* Eat sweet vegetables like raw carrots. Eating slowly is important to bring out their natural flavour and satisfy your craving.
* When the craving is very strong, have dry fruits like anjeer, dates, black currants etc. You can also take chromium supplements to help to reduce sugar cravings.
At first, fighting your sugar craving may seem like an uphill task. But as you slowly win more ground, you’ll discover that you have greater energy, more emotional stability, improved memory and better allround health.
Anjali Mukerjee is a nutritionist and founder of Health Total, a nutrition counselling centre