Ever since I started school to become a dietitian, I have often come across misconceptions people have about our profession. Numerous times I’ve had patients or acquaintances make the statement “so you only eat healthy?” (ie. you only eat peas and carrots?) after I tell them what I do. If we happen to be eating out together, they might also get self-conscious about what they ordered saying, “don’t judge me!”. Trust me, I am not the food police; I can’t ticket you for a “bad” meal! Ha. Although our job as dietitians is to help people eat healthier, it doesn’t mean we don’t struggle with our own vices or indulge every once in a while! This new series “confessions of a dietitian” is my chance to clear up some of those false notions!
Confession: I have a sweet tooth. There’s no denying it! I can pass up the potato chips and fried onion rings, but set a milkshake or Snickers in front of me and I will most definitely gobble it up! Ever since I was little, I have had this infatuation with all things sweet. In fact, when I was young, I would sneak pieces of white Wonder bread from the cabinet, pour sugar on it, and eat it just like that! In high school, I remember indulging in a lot of soda and Little Debbie’s snack cakes. Yikes. Luckily, senior year I started to become more interested in healthy eating and nutrition, which lead me to my current career. That didn’t mean that my sweet tooth went away! I just had to learn how to control my sugar cravings…
Here’s what I have learned over the years about how to control a sweet tooth.
- Don’t bring desserts/cookies/ice cream/etc. into the house! This one change will help immensely. When you have to drive to the store or ice cream stand to buy your sweet treat rather than walking to the kitchen, you are much less likely to indulge in your craving. It’s like this video with kids and a marshmallow, when temptation for instant gratification is so close within your grasp, it’s hard to resist!
- Indulge in what you are craving every once in a while… Try to balance 80% healthy eating with 20% unhealthy treats. I’ll eat healthy during the week, but then make a special trip to indulge in what I’ve been craving on the weekend.
- Make it count. When you do indulge, get a small portion of what you really want. Don’t short change yourself by getting the low fat/sugar-free stuff. It just won’t be as satisfying.
- Freeze your desserts. When I do make cookies on occasion, I’ll throw the majority of the batch in the freezer. I’ll be less likely to eat them when they need to be thawed and are “out of sight, out of mind”.
- Dark chocolate has been my saving grace. When I am craving something a little sweet after dinner, I’ll eat a square or two of dark chocolate. The trick to buying dark chocolate that isn’t just a candy bar with loads of sugar, is to choose ones that are 80% or more cacao. For example, the 85% cacao bar we usually buy from Trader Joe’s has only 6 grams of sugar per serving. Plus, super dark chocolate is chock full of healthy antioxidants!
- Keep fruit around the house. Sometimes, I can satisfy my sweet tooth with some fruit! I’ll add it to plain yogurt or cottage cheese and make a dessert of it. Every once in a while, I’ll buy fruit flavored yogurt, which although it has a lot of sugar, at least it also has some protein and calcium! Plus, one cup of flavored yogurt is still a lot less calories than a big bowl of ice cream or a milkshake. 🙂
- The more you make a habit of limiting too many sweets in your diet, the easier it gets!
Now, this post doesn’t even begin to address all the hidden sugar in foods… but that’s for another day!
Do you have a sweet tooth? How do you control your sugar cravings?