If you happen to have a sweet tooth, there are a lot of ways to satisfy it. (Donuts, anyone?) Satisfying it in a healthy way, though…that’s a little bit more difficult.
Fortunately, you don’t have to have an iron will to cut back on the number of sugary treats that you consume. There are steps you can take that might just make doing so a little easier.
If you haven’t guessed yet, it’s those steps that we’re going to be focusing on.
As always, please remember that while we are passionate about healthy living, we are by no means professionals. If you have a health concern or are planning major diet changes, see a doctor.
That said, if your goal is to eat less sugary treats, these might be just the thing to help you out.
Why do we crave sweets?
But before we dive into beating our sugar cravings, let’s tackle another question: Why do we get them?
As it turns out, we’re practically programmed for it.
Glucose is a major source of energy for our bodies so it makes sense that we would gravitate towards sweet foods that would give us that. Plus sugar activates our brain’s reward system, releasing dopamine. This is not exactly an impetus to shy away from sugar. In fact, it’s the opposite. When you eat large amounts of sweet treats, that rewarding feeling basically goes into overdrive and our brains adjust to want more.
So the more we eat sweets, the more we tend to want them.
As for a sudden inexplicable desire for tres leches cake at 3 am (not speaking from experience or anything) that could pop up for a few different reasons. It could be because of low blood sugar, hormones, or even just because we’re bored or stressed.
But what can you do about it?
What can we do?
Be mindful (sorta)
It helps to be mindful of why you want what you want. Have you been eating enough today? Or are you just stressed? Is it PMS rearing its ugly head? Or is this a force of habit?
If you have a better idea of why you’re wanting something, you can better decide what to do. Maybe you can find a healthier alternative.
Of course, it may also help to apply an out-of-mind strategy. Try distracting yourself when the cravings come knocking before deciding to dig in. This can be by taking a walk around the block, doing a household chore, or even just drinking a glass of water. If you still want something sweet after, you can find an alternative or maybe just have the treat (you can do that on occasion).
Reduce serving sizes
Given that the point of this article is to beat your sweet cravings, it may seem a bit off to tell you can have sweets, but really you can. Completely swearing off sweet treats can sometimes backfire when we finally give in and go overboard. Allowing some space for small amounts of sweet foods can help prevent that.
That’s not free reign to go overboard mind you, but having a slice of cake now and then or reaching for a fun-sized candy bar when you want chocolate can help you satisfy your cravings without going overboard.
Switch and combine foods
Of course, that said, sometimes eating in moderation is easier said than done. We may set out with the intention of eating just one chocolate and WHOOPS! Where’d the bag go?
If stopping after one is difficult for you, a better course of action to take would be to go for an alternative. Try grabbing a piece of fruit if you are craving something sugary. If that doesn’t quite do the trick, you can also try to stave off cravings by combining something healthy with a small amount of something not so healthy.
For example, say you’re craving chocolate. Instead of grabbing a chocolate bar, try eating a banana with chocolate or some oatmeal with a few chocolate chips. This will give you the chocolatey fix you want, but with more nutrients thrown in, including fiber, leaving you feeling more satisfied.
So if you were to say, drizzle banana slices with chocolate and peanut butter and then stick it in the fridge for a bit, it might not be the worst idea (you can thank us later).
Better eating throughout the day
Eating foods with protein, healthy carbs, and healthy fats throughout the day might help keep your sweet tooth at bay. It will help you to feel satisfies for a longer period of time and avoid blood sugar spikes that will leave you wanting a sweet pick-me-up.
Spice over sugar
Cutting back on sugar doesn’t necessarily mean cutting back on flavor. Sprinkling a bit of chili powder or cinnamon onto your food can add a bit of spice to make sure your meals aren’t boring. We also highly recommend putting cinnamon in coffee. Trust us on this one.
Here are just a few foods to help you through when the sweet tooth is particularly persistent.
- Fruits- Grapes and mangoes are especially good options. A handy trick is to freeze the grapes.
- Avocados- Good for toast, good for chocolate pudding.
- Sweet potatoes- It’s in the name.
- Nuts- Almonds and brazil seeds.
- Chia Seed- Great for pudding.