Sugar is sweet and tasty, but it’s can also lead to health consequences when consumed in excess. In excess, this sweet treat can lead to tooth decay, weight gain, diabetes, and a range of other health issues. Unfortunately, sugar is abundant in many foods because it is added to food and drink to make it more palatable.
The sweetness of sugar and sugary foods is what makes individuals crave them, however. This is a natural, evolutionary response. For most of human history, food was not abundant, and the “cravings” that individuals experience for sugar were a form of defense mechanism against starvation. In the past, when individuals found sweet food, they consume a lot of it, providing them with energy until their next opportunity to eat.1
Today, food is far more readily available than it was in the past, and this survival mechanism is working against modern humans. Eating sugary foods still feels good and triggers the same pleasure centers. However, because of food surplus, this results in increased consumption of an unlimited sugar supply, making for eventual health consequences.
Because of this, eating sugar in moderation and curbing sugar cravings is important.
Importance of Diet and Eating Sugar in Moderation
If you’ve ever looked for weight loss advice, then you’ve probably seen a lot of conflicting information about the most effective way to lose weight. The truth is that the process for losing weight is simple but not easy.
The body converts the calories in food to energy. Some of that energy is stored as glycogen in the muscles. If you eat protein or amino acids, those macromolecules are used as the building blocks of muscle.
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Fat is broken down to be used in the production of hormones, as well as for energy. If you consume more calories (from any source) than you burn, whether, through metabolism or exercise, this excess is stored as fat.
If you want to lose weight, then the answer is living for a period of time in a calorie deficit. You can do this by either just eating fewer calories or by exercising to increase the number of calories that you burn.
So, does all this mean you have to give up sugar if you want to lose weight? Not necessarily. Some people do very well simply by eating smaller portions of their usual foods. However, some people find that if they stick to old habits of eating potato chips, white bread, pasta, pizza, fries, cakes, or other foods rich in simple carbohydrates, they feel hungry sooner and can’t stick to their diet.
For these individuals, changing to a diet that features more lean meats and vegetables, healthy fats, fiber-rich fruits, and fewer sugars is better. You can still have some sugar as a treat but try to limit it to one small sugary snack per day. Additionally, eating foods with higher levels of healthy fats like salmon or avocados helps with satiety.2
Curbing Sugar Cravings with Peppermint Essential Oil
If you’ve spent a long time eating sugary snacks or drinking tea, coffee or soda with sugar in it, then you might find it hard to just stop eating sugar in general.
The cravings that you feel are real. The good news is that they will go away after a while. If you stop eating sugar and start eating more healthy fats, high fiber foods, and protein, then you will notice after a few days or a week in some cases, you will feel better and experience more stable energy levels. You will stop craving sugar and your dopamine patterns will return to normal.3
Of course, the initial few days can be difficult. Luckily, there are ways to manage these cravings, including using essential oils, specifically peppermint oil. This essential oil has been found to help boost energy levels and exercise performance, in addition to increasing alertness.4
Additionally, peppermint essential oil has been shown to help reduce cravings and curb appetite.
A 2011 study conducted by Bryan Raudenbush, a professor at Wheeling Jesuit University, found that individuals who inhaled peppermint every two hours were less hungry than those who did not, to the point where they consumed an average of 2,800 fewer calories per week.5
Though the exact mechanism behind the benefits of the oil are not completely clear, it is thought that the oil distracts from feelings of hunger because its scent is so potent.
History of Peppermint
Peppermint oil is not a new essential oil. Indeed, the plant has been used throughout history.
Romans and Greeks used peppermint in their cooking. The ancient Greeks used two different species of mint in their medicine but it’s unclear whether the mint they used is like mint species today because selective breeding has changed a lot of plants.
The Egyptians did have peppermint, as we know it, though. They cultivated it and archaeologists have found dried peppermint leaves in some pyramids.
The use of peppermint in Western Europe did not come until much later. Cultivation of peppermint for medicinal purposes was not performed in England until the 18th century.
Throughout history, physicians have used it for its antiseptic and anesthetic properties. It can help with colds, flu, and indigestion. It is also a good pick-me-up and can help increase alertness.
Today, peppermint is used to relieve tension headaches and nausea, in addition to a range of other uses.6 The idea of using peppermint to help with weight loss and as an appetite suppressant is something that is relatively new.
Peppermint Oil as a Diet Aid
Peppermint oil is generally well-tolerated when used in moderation. The oil is highly concentrated, however, and should, therefore, be handled with care. It can be taken orally in small quantities but excessive doses can be toxic.
While it can be used on the skin of adults, it is best to use it diluted in a mild carrier oil like coconut, almond, or jojoba oil.
When used as a solution for cravings, peppermint oil is usually inhaled through a room diffuser or personal essential oil diffuser or applied to some clothing where it can be inhaled throughout the day.
Peppermint is just one essential oil option for curbing sugar cravings. Other essential oils can also be helpful, and a blend with a few of these essential oils can provide double the benefits.
Cinnamon essential oil is another great option for reducing your cravings, in addition to having a satisfying aroma which can make you feel like you’ve eaten, even when you haven’t.
It’s well worth trying a few different essential oil blends until you figure out which one is best for curbing your sugar cravings. Carry a bottle of your favorite oils around or use portable essential oil diffuser like Forest, Ocean, Mountain, or Vibrant MONQ to curb your cravings on the go. It only takes a few minutes of distraction to help you avoid the urge to eat sugary snacks and to ensure you stick to your diet.