In the last few years, there’s been a tide of information about the dangers of eating too much processed sugar. But deciding to cut back is the easy part – actually doing it is a different story. Here are some strategies for reducing the amount of sugar in your diet while still satisfying your desire for sweets.
1. Start your day with protein. Make sure your breakfast is protein-rich to keep you feeling full well into the day.
2. Eat regularly. When you wait too long between meals, your blood sugar drops, causing you to crave sweet and fatty foods for a quick energy boost. To prevent this, eat every three or four hours, even if it’s just a handful of nuts, a whole-grain cracker, or a piece of fruit to stave off hunger.
3. Chew sugar-free gum. Gum doesn’t just freshen your breath, it gives you the boost of a sweet treat without actually consuming the calories. Plus, when you’re mouth’s occupied you’re less likely to grab something to nibble.
4. Beware the blues. Notice you’re more likely to reach for the cookies when you’re anxious, bored, or sad? Avoid this type of stress-induced eating by taking a short walk when it hits. Not only does walking distract you, it releases endorphins to boost your mood.
5. Experiment with creative combinations. Chocolate and other sweets go farther when you mix them with something healthier. Dip a banana in chocolate sauce or make trail mix with nuts and chocolate chips or M&Ms.
6. Go for quality over quantity. When a serious craving hits, don’t try to deny it. Instead, indulge completely, but in small portions and slowly. Whether it’s a homemade brownie, a piece of pie, or your favorite ice cream, choose exactly what you want, then enjoy every bite. You’ll find you need much less to feel satisfied.
7. Substitute and modify. Just because something tastes sweet doesn’t mean it’s bad for you, Many fruit-based treats are packed with antioxidants, fiber and vitamins. Try berries and plain yogurt, a baked apple, or this super-healthy chocolate pudding, made from avocado and almond milk.
Here are some more tips from Kaiser Permanente Health Education on how to beat cravings for sweets.