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Nutrition Articles  ›  Healthy Habits

Smarter Ways to Satisfy Your Sweet Tooth

Simple Tips for Mastering Your Sugar Cravings

-- By Bryn Mooth, SparkPeople Contributor
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If you’re watching your calorie intake, the most problematic part of your anatomy may be your sweet tooth. Our bodies are hard-wired for an attraction to sweet foods since sweetness signals that we’re taking in the calories (energy) needed for survival. The problem arises, of course, when we’re not burning those calories. But we can take steps to moderate those sweet cravings and choose the right foods to satisfy them. Here are some tips to show your sweet tooth who's boss:
 
Don’t deprive yourself. Allowing yourself a small serving of dessert or an afternoon snack can help you stay on track and prevent full-blown sugar binges. Savor your treat, and then even it out with a little extra exercise. Moderation and balance are the keys here!
 
Eat whole foods. If you’re hankering for a cookie, then eat a cookie—but make it a good one. Don’t reach for sweets that are artificially low in calories, sugar or fat like diet cola or ''lite'' yogurt. It's better to have a real cookie made with whole ingredients than a low-calorie or low-fat snack that’s full of artificial ingredients and flavorings. The artificial version might temporarily satisfy your sweet craving, but it will make you even hungrier in the long run since it's made with fake ingredients. Plus, studies suggest that artificial sweeteners may actually contribute to weight gain. A report in the Yale Journal of Biology & Medicine explains why: The taste of artificial sweeteners, coupled with our perception of fewer calories, causes us to overeat. When we eat something that tastes sweet but is artificially low in calories, it doesn’t fully signal the same reward/satiety response in our bodies and brains as the full-calorie version would. Since we’re not biologically satisfied by that food, we’re triggered to eat more of it. Take control of your own well-being and eat real foods whenever you can.
 
Watch your portions. Because we have a natural preference for sweet foods (and because they’re just so yummy), we tend to overeat them. One cookie suddenly becomes three or five. As with any high-calorie food, pay attention to portion sizes. Take two cookies from the bag and put the package away. Cut a pan of brownies into 16 pieces instead of eight. Choose kid-sized portions at the frozen yogurt shop. Individually-wrapped granola bars and other treats can also help keep you from overdoing it on the sweets. But don't give into your cravings right away! See if you can wait them out: drink a glass of water and give yourself 10 minutes. If you still want the treat, then indulge, but go for quality over quantity. One really high-quality chocolate truffle is going to be so much more satisfying than half a bag of mediocre chocolate.
 
Make it a treat, not a daily eat. Seize the power that comes from control, and make it work for you as a motivator. You can have dessert—just not every day! Have a piece of cake on a special occasion, or savor a decadent splurge once a week. Own your decision to eat what you want, in moderation. Additionally, don't settle for eating something that you aren't really craving; it may only set you up for a binge later on.
 
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About The Author

Bryn Mooth Bryn Mooth
Bryn Mooth is an independent copywriter and journalist focused on food, wellness and design; she's also a Master Gardener and enthusiastic green thumb. She shares seasonal recipes, kitchen techniques, healthy eating tips and food wisdom on her blog writes4food.com.

Member Comments

  • i believe that taking the time to make a healthy snack cookie or bar is the answer to control.
    then you know how many servings you are allowed and how many calories are involved. find a recipe with a good amout of fiber, like oats, chia seeds, and check out king arthur flour web site. they have a hi maize flour that has lots of fiber. baking with them is a smart idea, learn about them. - 2/27/2014 11:38:44 AM
  • Soooo important to discover how to clean up the cleaned sweet tooth. - 1/31/2014 12:49:28 AM
  • I love this essay. - 1/31/2014 12:47:24 AM
  • Great tips!!! - 1/11/2014 9:46:32 AM
  • Great tips, will give them a try - 1/11/2014 9:14:34 AM
  • SHEAQUILTER1
    stopping artificial sweeteners tomorrow- hoping that this will help long term. - 1/10/2014 11:14:47 PM
  • When craving sweets, I look for whole raw fruit like strawberries, if I am craving chocolate then I try to melt a ounce of semi-sweet cholcolate chips and dip the strawberries into it. Much better for me then munching down on M&Ms. - 1/10/2014 2:02:18 PM
  • I like sweetner in my coffee. Never liked sugar. Will try Stevia, but my coffee this morning was not too good. - 1/10/2014 12:42:03 PM
  • REGINALEE62A
    Can't wait to try the brownie recipe. Sounds delicious, and love the 9grams of fiber. Thanks for the healthy alternative to my fav. sweet tooth indulgence.
    - 1/10/2014 11:26:52 AM
  • I wish I would have read this YESTERDAY as a reminder... I BLEW it yesterday because I have been CRAVING chocolate for more than a week and yesterday I caved... BIG TIME... oh well, dust myself off and move forward. :O) Today is a new day. - 1/10/2014 10:46:33 AM
  • FISHINGGAL101
    well I have to have my one see's candy everyday other wise I will eat most the box...LOL. I find that if I do it that way it works for me. One a Day. - 1/10/2014 10:33:03 AM
  • I do find that a little of something often leads to a LOT. If I just stay away, I can leave things alone. Maybe it is just the trigger foods but--I try to not have ANY unless there is NO MORE. - 1/10/2014 8:19:14 AM
  • Thanks CATINCJ. Some top tips
    I find pistachios in their shell a good one - 'coz you have to slow down your snacking by shelling the nuts! - 11/5/2013 5:47:00 PM
  • Great article. I think I'm going to try the brownie and fruit leather recipe. Yum! I also reach for a cup of orange juice when I'm in a pinch, know I'm going to lose control and go on a junk food binge. It works for me and it's better than the alternative. :) - 11/2/2013 2:05:28 PM
  • For my GO TO sweet tooth satisfier, I have some favs that work for me every time.

    1. I make myself sit down and eat it slowly, really savoring the flavor and texture.
    (How many pounds have I put on over the years by devouring a hand full of this or that without ever tasting it?)

    2. I make a pan of brownies or yummy cupcakes, portion them in individual servings (usually 100 calorie) and stick them in individual sandwich bags in the freezer so portion size is already calculated and it is easy to track.

    3. I'll cook some prunes and stick them in a sealed jar in the frig . . . I need the extra fiber in my diet. They are so syrupy sweet that a couple is all I need to satisfy the sweet craving.

    4. For pure indulgence, I'll melt 1 ounce of semi-sweet chocolate chips in the microwave and savor each spoonful - only 70 calories!!!
    For extra protein, add 1/3 serving of raw or toasted almonds - and I'm still less than 200 calories.

    - 10/9/2013 12:10:35 PM