Before I begin..
…let me divulge a not-so-secret secret.
I have a sweet tooth.
A major sweet tooth.
Some nights, I toy with the idea of being incredibly naughty and overlooking my greens and beans and jumping (er, biting) right into dessert.
Disguising something sweet as being completely balanced, like a large hunk of banana bread with almond butter and a glass of soy milk (and maybe a carrot on the side.) Nom, nom, nom.
Some people may crave salty.
I crave sweet, sweet, sweet.
Thankfully, there is hope for us sweet loving connoisseurs.
Here are my favorite tips and strategies that will help you conquer your sweet tooth. They work for both me and for my patients.
I’m not saying that you’ll never ever want an over-sized hot, fudgie brownie ever gain.
I AM saying that there’s hope of finally being able to control your food instead of letting your food control you. )
1. Make sure you’re eating (enough) carbohydrates throughout the day.
Carbohydrates (i.e., fruits, pasta, quinoa, bread) provide us with energy, yes. They also provide us with serotonin, a “feel good” hormone. When we haven’t had enough carbohydrates throughout the day, we may reach for a quick “feel good” snack at the end of the day (i.e., ice cream, cookies, etc.)
Try including some quinoa on your salad. Or a small whole wheat banana muffin with a glass of milk for an afternoon snack.
*exercise also produces serotonin…just one more reason to get movin’!
2. Eat More Fresh Fruit.
Many people avoid fruit, believing that it’s high in sugar. While this is technically true for many fruits, they’re also high in vitamins, minerals and filling fiber. They can also provide you with the sweetness your body craves. Have a cup of blueberries after lunch. Grab some pineapple after dinner. If you’re just starting to cut back on eating large amounts of sweets and sugary things, it’s more than okay to include more fruit throughout the day than you might normally.
3. Eat Mindfully.
If you’re a night eater and you tend to eat sweets in large quantities (perhaps surrounded with feelings of guilt,) it’s time to start eating mindfully. Instead of grabbing one million and one things that sort of, kind of, not really satisfy your sweet tooth, grab what it is that you’re truly craving. Take a moment to think about what it is you want and why. Chocolate? Gummies? Ice cream? Then, take a small portion (1/2 cup ice cream, small handful of gummies, 2 pieces of chocolate) and eat at the table (not in front of the tv!). Eat slowly. Mindfully.
If you feel like food is mostly emotional for you and you’re consistently eating sweets in large amounts, write down your thoughts in regards to the food and how you feel in that moment (and after that moment too.) Happy? Sad? Tired? You don’t have to not eat the sweet just because you make a pact to be mindful. Just be aware that you’re eating and what your body and emotions feel like throughout this process.
4. Keep sweet treats out of the house.
This is a no brainer but it’s still surprisingly easy for oreos and ice cream to find their way into your home (how does that happen?)
The truth is?
If it’s not there, you won’t eat it. The rest of the family will benefit from ditching these foods too. Make a special treat now and then or plan to go out for dessert once in a while to keep everyone happy. For the rest of the time, keep the house clear and free of tempting goodies that you just can’t say “no” to. Why tempt yourself?
5. Drink plenty of water throughout the day.
Dehydration can make us crave all kinds of foods, disguising itself as hunger. Drinking 6-8 glasses of water through the day can give you that extra boost of willpower to say “no thank you!” to the office donuts.
6. Say YES once in a while.
Not all the time.
Now and then, it’s okay to indulge your taste buds. Just do it in a modest way that won’t make you feel ill afterwards and in a way that won’t take away from your healthy lifestyle…
7. Keep special “dessert dishes.”
Going along with #6, it’s a good idea to have portion sized containers for when you do decide to have dessert. Ramekins that fit exactly 1/2 cup of ic cream are ideal (you can fill them to the brim and know that you’ll never go overboard.) Or buy a small plate/saucer dish that will hold exactly two small cookies (not 4 or 5 or 6.) Portion sizes are everything, and a cupcake, a brownie or a small ice cream cone from your favorite dairy barn certainly won’t kill you.
Have fun. Live life. Enjoy.