Smarter Ways to Satisfy Your Sweet Tooth

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.
 

Make sensible sweet swaps.


Many people tend to crave sweets in the afternoon, after dinner and before bed. If your sweet tooth regularly strikes mid-day or late at night, then choose healthy snacks (around 150 calories) that not only satisfy your craving but also have nutritional value. And if you simply must have something sweet after dinner, then choose a dessert that’s naturally low in calories—and preferably homemade.

Sources
 
Cleveland Clinic. ''Heart-Health Benefits of Chocolate Unveiled,'' accessed May 2012.
 
Yale Journal of Biology and Medicine. ''Gain weight by ''going diet?'' Artificial sweeteners and the neurobiology of sugar cravings,'' accessed May 2012.
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Member Comments

Great points that we tend to overlook. Report
thanks Report
Great ideas! Report
MOOMSHINE
Interesting article that mirrors my thoughts. 8-) Report
thank you Report
While I agree we need to find balance, est on moderation, & having the original real food is great, I disagree that you shouldn't have diet foods. I eat plenty of fruit usually fresh bring it's summer but sometimes you want sweets & are nearly maxed out on calories for the day. Diet jello (in multiple flavors ) can be eaten w/ a touch of RediWhip & if that keeps you on track then go for it. Same for sugar free candy. My coworkers kept tempting goodies out all day, every day. No one can pass those up forever so I had my own. I see no reason to not have treats often. We are all different & I know what is working for me. Report
I eat a lot more fruit and less sweets now. thanks SP Report
Good ideas, thanks Report
Thank You...………. Report
Awesome...thanks.
.. Report
DONNA_CPS2
Had some fresh pineapple! Report
FLTOWNE
good ideas
Report


 

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.