Calling a sugar addiction a “sweet tooth” is an issue. When we familiarise, make a diminutive of, or give something a pet name, it has the instant effect of making whatever we’re talking about less threatening, cuter, and ultimately, more acceptable. There are many more examples that fit this criteria in the English language, but having a ‘sweet tooth,’ is a turn of phrase that’s as common as the food ingredient it’s describing. In fact, a simple Google search tells me that ‘sweet tooth’ has been in use since the 1300s, and that people used to describe something as ‘toothy,’ if it was sweet and delicious. Personally, I’m quite glad that toothy has fallen out of favour - but we still continue to say “oh he’s just got a sweet tooth,” as if it’s a perfectly good excuse for something which we now know is incredibly harmful to our health - sugar.
It is also far too easy to make excuses for ourselves when we want something decadent and full of sugar, because we “have a sweet tooth.” It couldn’t possibly be our fault…
But what actually is a sweet tooth?
If we called it what it really is, a sugar addiction, then immediately it begins to lose its cuteness right? So let’s talk about this then - why are we all so addicted to the white stuff? I don’t want you to think you can shirk responsibility as I write this next sentence, the onus is very much on you for getting back on the straight and narrow, but, our brains are hardwired to crave sugar (carbohydrates), so those cravings you feel aren’t entirely your fault!
Breast milk is sweet, baby food is generally pureed sweet potato, carrots, mashed banana and baby oats (all very sweet), and at no point in our early years are we commonly exposed to the more bitter flavours in foods. So of course, we grow up completely accustomed to having sugar all day long. But the real crux of this story is that babies are born in ketosis - a metabolic state in which we burn fat for fuel, not sugar. The issue is that as soon as we bring the sweet foods in, our brains get so used to that dopamine rush from sugar that we crave it over and over again.
The ketogenic lifestyle fix
The ketogenic diet, on the other hand, completely avoids the sugar highs and lows that are not only responsible for our cravings, but also allows us to maintain a steady blood sugar level - which is crucial for long term health and prevention of Type Two Diabetes. The focus on a ketogenic diet is on the most nutrient rich foods too, proteins and fats, instead of empty calories in carbohydrates - that, combined with a hefty dose of vegetables is what makes keto such a valuable tool for optimising your physiology.
Why do so many of us have a sweet tooth?
I know what you’re thinking, there’s surely a difference between natural sugar and refined, white sugar - and you’d be right in assuming that. However, in terms of the total sugar load of a “refined sugar free” version of, let’s say, a Snickers bar, it can actually have almost as much total sugar as the real deal. Yes, it’s going to come with more fibre, vitamins and minerals to aid in it’s breakdown, but the deleterious effects on your blood sugar are still going to be largely the same. And it’s blood sugar that’s the real issue with excessive sugar consumption.
Once we’ve activated that reward pathway in the brain (ruled over by dopamine) it’s extremely hard to say no to a sugar hit again, and again, and again. If you’ve heard sugar described as a ‘drug,’ then you’re not far off, it’s addictive in a very similar way and acts on the prefrontal cortex in the brain to make us keep coming back for more.
How to get rid of sugar cravings
Because of neuroplasticity (the brain’s constant rewiring of itself as it learns new habits), once we’re on that sugar rollercoaster it’s almost impossible to stop. The best way to rewire your brain to not crave sugar is simple: don't eat it. Only then will you stop craving it. If you’re concerned that your sweet tooth is so bad that coming off sugar is going to be really tough, then do it gradually to avoid any unwanted symptoms. Much like caffeine withdrawal, it’s incredibly common to get headaches and migraines.
The Key(to) your sweet tooth
Far from being an Instagram diet ‘trend,’ the keto diet is a fantastic opportunity to feed your body the valuable nutrients that it needs to function optimally (protein, fats and vegetables), whilst avoiding too much sugar. Fat and protein are both incredibly satiating, so whilst you’re transitioning away from sugar it’s a good idea to make sure you’re including healthy fats and quality sources of protein at every single meal. Being on the keto diet is simply making that metabolic switch from burning glucose (sugar) for fuel to burning fat for fuel - and it’s something that we should all be able to access in order to improve our overall health, longevity, mood, digestion, waistline and so much more.
Thankfully, Cru8 have made being keto super easy for you - with keto vegan buns, breads, and even sweet treats (that are actually low in sugar). All the Cru8 range is organic too and Nutritionist approved!
So, what are you waiting for? It’s time to pull out your ‘sweet tooth!’