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Get excited about nutrition, and learn as you go with these information-packed resources on a wide variety of nutrition-centric topics! Our bistroMD experts review the importance of the macronutrients protein, fat, and carbohydrates, as well as how to make them work most efficiently for you.

The Importance of Managing Sugar Cravings for Telomere Health & Tips

Sugar cravings and feeding into them can result into not-so-sweet outcomes, including negative effects on telomere health. Telomeres are the protective endings of chromosomes, defending against cellular damage that may harm the human body.

The Importance of Managing Sugar Cravings for Telomere Health & Tips

Supporting telomeres has been linked to extensive health benefits, including increasing longevity and reducing the risk of chronic diseases. But with sugar so deeply embedded within the food supply and provoking addictive properties, how can individuals resist such cravings and take ownership of health once and for all?

The Importance of Managing Sugar Cravings

Before acknowledging the importance of managing sugar cravings, it is important to recognize the distinction between cravings and hunger, as they are often used interchangeably. Cravings are predominantly a mental desire, mostly stimulated and fueled by negative feelings and emotions. Cravings tend to be comfort food specific, including products rich in sugar, fat, and salt, and can pass with time. But if cravings are fed into, individuals are commonly unsatisfied following their intake and may even feel guilty. Hunger, on the other hand, is a physical need for food and results to a growling stomach, headache, and loss of energy. Hunger is often not exclusive to one food, and individuals likely feel satisfied after eating.

As mentioned, cravings tend to involve sugary and fat-laden foods. And while indulgences may fit into a balanced diet, continuously feeding into them can harm both physical and mental harm. Poor telomere health, along with a high intake of sugar, has been connected to a number of health conditions including diabetes and heart disease. Time after time, studies have demonstrated practicing mindful eating can lower blood glucose levels, result to significant weight loss, and facilitate a healthy relationship to food. Ultimately, improvements in both mental and metabolic health can support telomeres.

How to Manage Sugar Cravings

• Recognize True Signs of Hunger
More times than not, cravings are emotion and boredom-based and surface and intensify the desire for a sweet scoop of ice cream, chocolate chip cookie, or slice of leftover cake. But before raiding the kitchen amidst an intense sugar craving, truly ask yourself and scale the question, "Am I hungry?" by identifying the hunger pangs described above.

• Devise Plan B for Boredom
Mentioned above, cravings can arise based on bouts of boredom, ultimately filling the time with adventures in the kitchen. Whether taking a walk, calling a friend, playing a game, or dancing to music, make a list of alternative activities to distract the mind.

• Practice Intuitive Eating
The practice of mindful and intuitive eating entails tuning into the body’s hunger and satiety cues, primarily in hopes to heighten food appreciation and reduce the risk of overeating. Start the practice by bringing your awareness to the entire body prior to eating, using the senses to enjoy the food at hand, and recognizing personal feelings throughout the entire dining experience. Further rid all distractions, including sitting down without electronics, and focusing most attention on the meal and members who may also be surrounding the dining table.

• Reconstruct the Pantry
Retrain your brain to appreciate a pantry fully stocked with fresh, wholesome foods! Reconstructing the pantry also lessens the risk of binging on innutritious, packaged products loaded with less-than-desirable ingredients. And while a cookie can be enjoyed every now and then, it is important to know your own food triggers. If reaching for one cookie turns into devouring the whole package, avoid bringing them into the house or purchase an individually-sized portion.

Sydney Lappe's Photo
Written By Sydney Lappe, MS, RDN. Published on August 16, 2017. Updated on September 22, 2017.


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