CHARLESTON, WV (WVNS) — Consuming too much sugar can hurt your health.

Sugary diets have been linked to everything from weight gain and cavities, to serious problems such as diabetes, heart disease and stroke.

But when your sweet tooth acts up and a craving hits, it can be tough to resist.

Craving from food is normal for a number of reasons: hunger, hormonal shifts, habit or even boredom, experts say. More than 90 percent of Americans experience food cravings.

The following are smart strategies to help tame your sweet tooth.

Eat a protein-packed breakfast

Protein gives you energy while keeping your blood sugar levels stable. Start your day off with a breakfast high in protein such as eggs, Greek yogurt, cottage cheese or a smoothie with protein powder.

Improve your sleep

Sleep deprivation suppresses signals of fullness so remember to get a full night of sleep. To increase your odds of conquering cravings, aim for seven to eight hours of sleep a night.

Pinpoint your sugar pitfalls

Try to understand the pinpoint of why you have these sugar cravings and what typically triggers your desire for something sweet. Once you identify your triggers, make a list of different ways to handle those feelings, such as listening to music, reading a book, watching a favorite TV show or a phone call with a friend.

Remove temptation

Try keeping foods you simply cannot resist out of your house. It is one of the easiest and most significant ways to reduce sugar cravings.

Eat a small portion and savor each bite

Some who try to stop altogether end up losing self-control and binging. If that tends to happen to you, try to limit yourself to a very small portion of a sugary treat. This strategy works well if you choose something rich and decadent.

Consider a healthy substitute

Sometimes you can satisfy your sugar cravings by choosing a food that’s naturally sweet, such as bananas, raspberries, grapes or blueberries. Sipping on a cup of naturally sweet hot tea like cinnamon, peppermint or raspberry can help as well.

Count to 25

Adding this into your sweet tooth craving routine can help when making healthier choices. When Rush University researchers rigged a vending machine to build in a 25-second delay when someone chose an unhealthy item, people often switched to a healthy option. It worked because humans prefer immediate gratification, according to the researchers.

Or wait even longer

If 25 seconds is not working, try a 10-minute delay and tell yourself that you can have the sugary snack after the break. Find something to distract you during that time such as watching a video or take a stroll. Researchers concluded that a brisk 15-minute walk reduced cravings.

Try ‘urge surfing’

Urge surfing is a mindfulness technique that involves recognizing a craving, accepting it and then riding it out without giving into it. To try this, start by taking notice the next time a craving hits and let yourself know and understand that it’s a normal feeling. Then, pay attention as the urge gets stronger, and then slowly starts to subside.

Give it a month

If there’s a food you simply can’t resist and feel like you cannot live without it, commit to cutting it out of your diet completely for just one month. The first week or two may be difficult, but your brain will adjust to the new routine.

If you follow these rules and simple steps, then you can stop your sugar cravings completely. Results cannot be promised unless you try and help yourself.

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