Whether it’s bread and pasta or cookies and chocolate you crave, here are seven simple ways to take control of your sugar habit — and your health.
If you think your habit is out of control, take a step back, analyze how you feel, and figure out what’s at the root of your sugar cravings. One way to properly evaluated your sugar intake is by using a food journal, for example, My Calorie Counter that calculates the total amount of sugar you’re consuming. Once you’ve done that, Daily Health nutritionist Kelly MacDonald, MS, RD, LDN, suggests a few easy adjustments that will help you survive the sugar season that begins at Halloween and continues through the end of the year – and helps you keep your sugar intake (and the scale) in check year-round:
“Psychoanalyze” your eating habits. Ask yourself why you’re reaching for carbs and soda. Do you truly need the food itself, or is it an emotional response triggered by stress or habit? Eating carbs and sugar trigger the release of the feel-good brain chemical serotonin, which can make you think you want the sugar when what you really want are the calm, happy feelings it produces.
Switch to whole grains. Contrasted to white bread and rice, the complex carbs in whole grains, for example, quinoa, brown rice, and oats are packed with filling fiber, which prevents the blood sugar spikes and dips that lead to sugar cravings. Eating whole grains has been linked to a lower diabetes risk and sustained weight loss over time.
Reach for healthier sweet snacks. When sugar desires hit, try to satisfy them with a healthier option such as whole fresh fruit or nonfat yogurt. Although both contain natural sugar, they also have other healthy nutrients like vitamins, antioxidants, protein, and fiber.
Keep sugar out of the house. On Halloween, it’s enticing to fill up on candy for trick-or-treaters or leftovers from your kids’ loot. Avoid temptation by handing out non-sugar options to trick-or-treaters, such as school supplies, small bags of nuts, or protein.
Plan your meals. As the holiday season begins, it’s hard to avoid sugar temptation. Plan ahead to make sure you’re not caught around the office cookie plate on an empty stomach. If you’re throwing or cooking for a holiday party, bring a fresh fruit salad instead of a pecan pie, for example. Chances are, there are other sugar-minded dieters at the party who will thank you for it.
Be honest with yourself. The only way you will truly stop or prevent a sugar addiction is to constantly keep yourself honest. Use a food journal to keep tabs on your diet. If you are eating more sugar than usual or find yourself continually battling cravings, add more fresh produce and whole grains.
Stop after a few bites. Teitelbaum says a little dessert every night is fine, but the key is to limit the portion. Your taste buds are soaked with sugar after only Some bites, so it’s best to have a few spoonfuls of Ben and Jerry’s to satisfy your sweet tooth and set the rest back in the freezer.