Are your diet plans derailed by sugar cravings? Do you find yourself rushing through meals just to get to dessert? In small amounts, sweets are part of a healthy, balanced diet. But the keyword is small. Too much sugar can cause blood sugar levels to soar, and then crash, leading to mood swings and more cravings. And steadily feeding the sugar monster is linked to serious health complications, including excess weight, Syndrome X, diabetes and heart disease. Here are some sugar alternatives and other ways to keep the sweet tooth under control.
Use stevia, a calorie-and carbohydrate-free sugar alternative derived from a shrub, to sweeten beverages like coffee and tea, or foods, such as cereal. Stevia, raw honey, brown rice syrup, tagatose, date sugar and xylitol can be used as sugar alternatives in cooking and baking, although recipe adjustments are required.
Eat regular, balanced meals that include a source of protein, such as meat, fish, eggs, beans and rice or a plant-based protein, like tofu or tempeh. Getting adequate protein at each meal helps keep blood sugar from spiking, a known trigger for sweet cravings.
Reach for the water bottle instead of a candy bar when the urge for sweets strikes. Thirst is often mistaken for hunger. Choose fresh spring or filtered water and flavor it with a few drops of stevia, a wedge of watermelon, citrus, strawberry or a sprig of fresh mint.
Snack on a small amount (one-half cup) of fresh fruit instead of candy or pastries. If none are available, opt for dried fruit, like apricots, blueberries or pineapple.
Season plain, low-fat yogurt with fresh fruit, juice, organic apple sauce, cinnamon and similar spices or one of the healthier sugar alternatives to make a flavorful dessert.
Take two bites of the sweets you’re craving and stop there. The “two bite” trick eliminates feelings of deprivation without a significant increase in sugar intake.