If you were rewarded with sweets as a child, or if sweets were withheld as a form of punishment, you may have grown up associating “forbidden sweets” with pleasure, says clinical psychologist Carla Marie Manly, Ph.D. “To further complicate matters, the brain comes to associate sweets with comfort, nurturing, and love,” Manly says. “On a neurobiological level, feel-good neurochemicals are released once the ‘treat’ is obtained and this loop further reinforces the ‘craving, eating, and reward’ cycle.”
Your move: Begin to replace food rewards with healthy, but equally pleasurable ones, such as an after-workout massage. Take notice of when sugar cravings kick in, and then distract and disarm them by doing something else. For example, when a bad mood strikes, lace up your sneakers. In a study from Bowling Green State University, people who jogged at whatever intensity they liked for 15 minutes boosted their mood. And as a bonus, they ended up running harder than they thought they did.
The article ?4 Smart Ways to Kill Sugar Cravings originally appeared on Men’s Health.