This could possibly be the most challenging thing about trying to eat healthier…having a gigantic sweet tooth.
I am guilty with this one. My sweet tooth is huge. After nearly every meal my mind is immediately thinking about the chocolate or the sweet treat that I want for dessert. Throughout the day, I crave tiny treats. If we go out, I would rather order dessert than have another drink. Baking Christmas treats is like being thrown into the lion’s den and expected to survive. (Dear Jesus, save me!)
Should Sugar be Off Limits?
I wish I could say that I’ve mastered my sweet tooth. But I haven’t. Over time, I have simply developed some strategies to manage it so that the sugar intake doesn’t send me into a tailspin.
And to be honest, I think that’s ok. If you have a sweet tooth like me, I don’t think your goal should ever be to “avoid sugar” altogether. As soon as you make that your goal, all you will be able to think about is sugar. You will crave it more than ever.
Some very popular diets today say no to sugar. I've always held a much more balanced perspective on nutrition, taking your mind and heart into consideration. Sure, cutting sugar from your diet completely would be beneficial to your physical health, but what happens to your attitude and cravings when you take such a staunch stance?
Nope, Sugar is Not the Best.
Of course, it's important to recognize that heavy doses of sugar throughout the day are awful for your health. Over time, it can seriously mess with your blood sugar balance, putting you at risk for developing hypoglycemia, insulin resistance, metabolic syndrome and even diabetes.
While these blood sugar issues are certainly more serious, in the meantime constantly giving in to your sweet tooth will make it nearly impossible to lose bodyfat, regulate your sex hormones, feel energetic and strong, think clearly and prevent a host of other health issues.
Deep down, we know this. Right? I’m sure we’re all aware that having a cookie or a candy bar is not doing our body any favors. Yet, we still indulge...the sweet tooth doesn’t disappear.
So while our goal should not be to totally avoid sugar, it’s important that we put some strategies in place to help us manage our sweet cravings. It’s important that we do our best to reduce our intake of sugar so that our bodies work the way they’re meant to.
Tips for Managing Your Sweet Tooth
Here are some of my tricks that keeps the sugar intake under control:
1. Pinpoint your favorite thing. Are you a chocolate gal or a gummy bears gal? Do you like ice cream or cake? Would you rather have a peppermint mocha or a margarita? Probably, if you have a sweet tooth you like it all. But, I’m sure you like certain things more than others.
Figure this out…really think about it. Once you identify “your thing”, let that be your go-to sweet treat and pass over all the other not-so-awesome treats.
For me, I like chocolate, specifically dark chocolate that’s a little salty and crunchy. It must have that texture. Even plain milk chocolate is not that awesome to me. So, when I’m presented with a bunch of treats, if it’s not a good, yummy dark chocolate, I practice saying no. I know that other treat will not fully satisfy my cravings, so it’s not worth it.
2. Have a little every day. Most women need to break the all-or-nothing mentality because it inevitably leads to binging on candy or cookies at some point. If you have a sweet tooth, let yourself have a little bit of your favorite thing every day in a controlled fashion. It could be a small package of gummy bears nibbled on throughout the day. It could be one square of rich, dark chocolate. It could be your morning coffee with the peppermint creamer. Have your thing, and then savor the heck out of it.
3. Don’t eat treats mindlessly. Eat them slowly, fully enjoying the flavor, texture, and sweetness. Probably 9 times out of 10, we shove sweets in our mouth and gobble them down without noticing. (i.e. Chowing down on a Christmas cookie while you pass through the kitchen, eating fast enough that your kids don't notice…yeah, I’ve never done that…) It barely has a chance to register in our brains.
Practice nibbling. If you slow down, you’ll most likely need to eat less to have the same satisfying effect.
4. Ask yourself if you’re actually hungry. Oftentimes, we just need to eat a real meal full of good protein, healthy fats, and lots of produce. When you’re hungry, your willpower and ability to say no to treats shrinks dramatically. Have you ever grocery shopped while hungry? Yep, that’s why they put the candy bars by the checkout stands.
5. Remove yourself from the environment. If you have a gigantic sweet tooth and have stacks of cookies in your kitchen, fudge in the fridge, ice cream in the freezer and bags of candy in the pantry, how the heck are you going to survive this scenario!? Be honest with your own capacity for self-control, and get rid of this stuff! Give it away, throw it away if you must, but you really need to remove yourself from the environment.
This is why I don't bake very much anymore. As much as I love to bake, I don't like experiencing my lack of willpower and the inevitable guilt after I eat a bunch of cookies. It sounds sad to not bake often, but when I do bake, it's extra special!
6. Be vulnerable with those around you. Admit to your husband, friends, or coworkers that you have a hard time saying no to sweets, and eating them doesn’t line up with your goals right now. Ask them to be supportive of your avoidance. You can even use the words “don’t even offer it to me, because I know I won’t be able to resist”.
7. Be careful with “substitutes”. These are so popular right now, and Skinny Cow is making a fortune from women that have zero willpower when it comes to sweets. Don’t fall for it. A sweet treat that is less than the real thing will usually leave you wanting the real thing. And besides, this is classic diet mentality instead of undergoing a total mindset change. You’re still telling yourself that it’s ok to be eating cookies all the time. They just happen to be “skinny”.
In my opinion, if you’re going to have a treat, have the real deal so you can fully savor it. It’s more important that you learn how to be mindful and careful with your sweets, rather than substituting junk for more junk.
8. Make yourself full on the good stuff. This comes down to the core of what I believe about good nutrition. Think about what you should be eating in abundance!
Eat more protein.
Eat more vegetables.
Eat more fruit.
Eat more nuts and seeds.
Eat more whole grains.
Drink more water.
Think more, more, more with this stuff!!
If these foods are dominating your plate and filling your body, you will naturally have less room for sweets and treats. And over time, your body will feel so good when you eat these foods that you won’t desire overly sweet foods anymore.
These strategies are not a fail-safe. There will inevitably be moments that you indulge in sweets more than you planned. You might find yourself in an impossible situation, surrounded by cookies, treats, and over-the-top hospitality.
What’s imperative is that you don’t allow one treat to spill into another, and then another. Catch yourself in those moments, redirecting and refocusing your thoughts. No guilt, no shame...just move on. Every day is a new day!
Originally published on 12/12/2016
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Megan P. Dahlman
Hi friend! I'm a Certified Strength & Conditioning Specialist, Precision Nutrition Certified Coach, Wife to Scott, and Mom to two crazy boys, Calvin & Peter. I train hard, eat well, rest just enough to keep going, and do my best to maintain a heavenly perspective. I'd love to coach you to do the same. Cheers!
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