If you’re like many people, you have spent a considerable amount of time trying to tame your sweet tooth. It’s worth noting that research has uncovered some of the reasons why some people are drawn more to sweets, while others prefer salty flavors. Importantly, here are some tips for managing your sweet tooth.
Blame It On Your DNA
If you’ve always found yourself drawn to sweets, your DNA may be to blame:
You may have a FGF21 gene variant. A study published in Cell Metabolism found that if you have a variant of this gene, you are 20% more likely to enjoy and seek out sugary foods and drinks. You may not be a “super-taster.” Other research has shown that some people (25% of the population) are what are called “super-tasters,” and these people are extremely sensitive to bitter foods. Super-tasters are more sensitive to bitter tastes simply because they have more taste papillae and taste receptors on their tongues that make them more sensitive to bitter tastes. They’re also more sensitive to sweet, salty and umami tastes, but to a lesser extent. They tend to have a reduced preference for sweet and high-fat foods. (Super-tasters also tend to consume more salt then non-tasters because salt masks bitter flavors.)
The good news is that none of us are doomed by our sweet-tooth tendencies. And with a few simple tricks, even if you find sweets to be the ultimate enticement, you can squash your sweet tooth without adding sugar. Here’s what to do:
1. Make sure to keep your body from ever craving a quick pick-me-up (sugar) by preventing your energy from dipping too low. You can do this by consuming a source of fiber and protein at all meals and snacks to prevent blood sugar highs and crashes; this combination also provides a longer-lasting fuel boost. Obviously, you need to avoid very sugary foods, like sodas, candies and jellies. And finally, do your best to get seven hours of sleep. If you don’t sleep well or have an energy crash, it’s easier to succumb to cravings.
2. Reset your sweet-tooth palate. Once you start eating sugary foods, your palate quickly adjusts and foods that are less sweet no longer satisfy your taste buds. In our current American food culture, most store-bought foods have high levels of added sugar to accommodate taste buds that now expect highly sweetened food.