Do you identify as having a “sweet tooth”? Does the idea of sinking your teeth into a warm fudgy brownie, gooey candy bar, or a smooth soft serve cone give you pleasure, but also feelings of guilt or dread? You’re not alone.
Many people feel their cravings for sweet, sugary foods are holding them back from their goal of losing weight or staying healthy. I’m here to tell you about some strategies that can help.
According to the 2015 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, which are based off a wide body of current health research, “Healthy eating patterns limit added sugars to less than 10 percent of calories per day”. Foods with added sugars typically have fewer nutrients than foods without added sugar.
Limiting the amount of foods or beverages with added sugar can decrease your total caloric intake and also give you more opportunities to consume more nutritious foods. So can you have your cake and eat it too? Yes, because it is absolutely possible and more realistic to consume sweets in moderation than to cut them out completely.
Examine Your Eating Patterns
Start by examining your overall eating pattern. Do you make efforts to consume nutritious food the majority of the time? Are you aware of the times you eat out of boredom or when you’re not hungry?
Could you change some things to make your dining experience more pleasurable? Do you believe having a sweet treat will truly throw you “off the bandwagon” so to speak and derail your healthy habits? Take the time to think about these questions the next time you have a craving for something sweet.
Identify the Why
In addition, when that sweet craving hits, take the time to examine why the craving happens. Is it because of stress? Do you make it a regular occurrence to eat something sweet such as always having dessert after dinner? Are you surrounded by temptations like your work staff lounge always having sweets? This may be an indication that your environment needs a change to support healthier habits.
Sometimes waiting as little as 15 minutes and being distracted from thinking about the sweet craving is all that is required to manage your sweet tooth. Other times it will be more effective to just give in. If that happens here are three options:
- Take a seat and enjoy every single delicious bite of your dessert. Bask in the pleasure that is food. It’s there for your enjoyment after all, not your demise.
- Try a healthier swap instead. Try nutrient dense and satisfying dried dates, or fresh strawberries. These have natural sugar, but no added sugar!
- Make a healthy chia seed chocolate pudding!
Try This Recipe: Chocolate Chia Seed Pudding
- 2 ½ cups milk (any type of milk)
- ¾ cup chia seeds
- ¼ cup cocoa powder
- 3 tablespoons maple syrup or honey
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
In a large bowl, whisk together the milk, chia seeds, cocoa, honey and vanilla. Cover and refrigerate at least 1 hour and up to overnight.
Stir the pudding before spooning into bowls. Enjoy!