Managing a Sweet Tooth
While experts agree that there are no definitive reasons why we gravitate towards sweets, there are several things going on in our bodies that may leave us with a hankering for that sugar rush. From birth, sweet is the first taste humans prefer. Sugar and other carbohydrate containing foods stimulate the release of the feel-good brain chemical serotonin. Naturally, our bodies enjoy that sensation of pleasure, which may leave us wanting more and more of our favorite indulgences.
Sweets and other refined carbs digest rather quickly, causing our blood sugar to rise and fall rapidly, leading to a “crash and burn” feeling without much satisfaction.
Depriving ourselves of foods that we enjoy is not the answer; yet we know that giving into our cravings too often may interfere with recommended weight gain recommendations during pregnancy and healthy postpartum weight loss. Don’t let your sweet tooth get the better of you, read on for tips on how to keep it in check!
WHAT TO DO
- Satisfy your sweet tooth with naturally sweet foods– If you are used to reaching for something more indulgent,
try these naturally sweet foods instead:
- Fresh fruit
- Baked cinnamon apples with a dollop of low fat yogurt and toasted oats
- Banana “ice cream” – ripe, frozen bananas blended with almond milk
- Greek yogurt berry drops- Mix berries with Greek yogurt and drop into dollops on a parchment lined baking sheet. Freeze until firm. Store in the freezer until ready to enjoy
- Whole grain rice cake with nut butter and sliced strawberries or bananas
- Whole grain waffle topped with 100 % fruit spread
- Eat regularly-Eating consistent meals can stop sugar cravings in their tracks since regular meals provide your body with a steady stream of energy and carbohydrate
- Try combining foods- Most sweet, dessert type foods are empty in terms of nutrition. If your sweet tooth just won’t concede, try pairing a small serving with a food that is packed full of good- for -you nutrients. Think dark chocolate and unsalted peanuts or almonds.
- Get up and move- Engaging in regular physical activity can help tame your sweet tooth by increasing your energy levels, leaving you a little less likely to rummage through the cabinets in search of that sugar rush.
- Distract yourself – sometimes a craving can be something other than hunger such as boredom, stress or something else. If this is the case, do something to distract yourself, go for a walk, make phone calls, do something to pamper yourself. You might be surprised how quickly you forget about your craving when you start doing something else.
- Learn your triggers- What intensifies your sweet tooth? Is it your reward at the end of the day? Or do you “have to have something sweet” after dinner? Identifying what heightens your desire for something sweet will make it easier to find ways to manage it
- Hydrate well- Be sure to drink enough water and eat foods that have a high water content like fruits and vegetables. If you are drawn to sugar filled beverages like sodas and juices, try a more natural alternative like fruit infused water or seltzer. Fill up a large pitcher of water and add your favorite fruits, veggies and even herbs. Try cucumber and lime, watermelon and mint and basil and pomegranate.
- De-stress- Stress can cause us to reach for those feel-good, sugar filled foods. If you can relate your sweet tooth to increased stress levels, find ways to lower your stress like deep breathing and meditation
- Indulge just a bit- It’s perfectly OK to surrender to your sweet tooth every once in a while. Make it count by truly savoring what you are having. If you are craving chocolate, but all that’s available is stale, leftover Halloween candy, perhaps save your indulgence for something you will more thoroughly enjoy later.