A sweet tooth can be the bane of a dieter’s life, and when sugar cravings kick in they can be almost impossible to ignore. The best way to tackle this is to feed your hunger with a healthy alternative to feed your sugar-hungry brain.
Making small changes in what you eat can mean you won’t have to lose out on sweetness, but you can make your choices far healthier. Here are some alternatives to your usual sugary selections – but with benefits to your waistline - and your teeth!
Switch sugary cereals for a mixture of fresh fruit with natural yoghurt and a good squeeze of honey. The honey will give you your sugary fix, but without all the added extra nasties that you find in boxed cereals.
You could even make your own cereal or granola – simply mix rolled oats with mixed nuts, shredded coconut and dried fruits such as cherries and raisins. You really can add whatever you fancy really. The sweetness comes from the dried fruit, so you won’t need to add extra sugar – which is hidden in a lot of shop-bought cereals. Try slicing a banana on the top for a bit of extra sweetness and for some slow release energy which will mean you shouldn’t feel hungry for snacks before you reach lunchtime.
It’s unrealistic to say you should avoid snacking completely. Although it would save a lot of extra calories in your day, the fact is we all love a quick pick-me-up now and again. When you’re walking past the vending machines in your office, or the corner shop with its shelves packed with chocolate temptation, tell yourself you can do even better than that.
If you’re snacks are healthier then you don’t need to be shy about eating more. So if you pack some nice sweet raisins or apricots, you can munch away confidently knowing that you’re doing your body more good than with a glucose-filled confectionary.
Mix your fruit with a flavoured yoghurt for more sweetness if you fancy it. You’ll benefit from calcium, vitamin C, and a more filling snack than the empty calories of biscuits and sweets.
If you really want a sweet treat, try a healthier alternative like a flapjack, which has the benefit of oats, or yoghurt coated nuts which are high energy, but have the sweet coating you desire.
Try chewing sugar-free gum. You’ll get the sweetness, and the chewing action will kid you into thinking you’re eating something for a while, but it will keep your mind off having more sugar until you have your next meal.
Switch your usual carbonated drinks, squashes and cordials for a sweet treat like a homemade smoothie or a freshly squeezed juice. The great thing about these is they still satisfy your cravings for sweetness but are packed with the goodness of fruit – great for your immune system, and low on calories.
Alternatively, try making a banana milkshake using a banana, a pint of fresh milk, and add honey if you want it even sweeter.
For the smoothies, you can just add any fruit – minus seeds and stones, to a blender, with lots of ice. You could choose orange juice as a base if you prefer, or add yoghurt if you prefer a thicker drink. Packed with goodness, the sweetness is already there from the fruit.
If you’re taking a packed lunch to work, and you tend to sneak in chocolate bars to your lunchbox –swap them for a mixture of nuts, raisins, and chocolate drops. The chocolate is what you’re really after, but it won’t be in the quantity you’d have eaten had you eaten a chocolate bar, and you’ll be getting extra nutritional benefits from the nuts and fruit.
Sticky puddings or ice-cream for dessert are what makes a great dinner even better. If you’re trying to make a healthier switch but have a craving for that sweetness, try a lighter pudding such as a rice pudding, or a meringue. Both have the sweetness, but less calories than say a sticky toffee pudding or a chocolate cake.
Switch ice cream for sorbet, which is essentially a flavoured ice, so you don’t have the heavy calories from the cream.
Allow yourself a treat during the day, and you’ll be less likely to eat a lot of rubbish. This is because you are not trying to completely deny yourself what you are craving, but you’ll be conscious that one treat is enough. It’s not easy cutting out all your sweet treats, but if you can switch them for lighter, or slightly less calorific alternatives then your waistline will thank you and your dentist will be over the moon that you’ve cut down on your sugar intake.
There will be days where you slip, don’t beat yourself up about it, but make sure you get back on track sooner rather than later.
Every time you crave something sweet, eat some fruit!! And when you are really craving chocolate late at night (like I do!) slice up an apple or pear into 8ths and make a healthy chocolate dip: a small amount of skimmed or semi-skimmed milk, a tablespoon of cocoa powder and a teaspoon of honey. Mix together to your desired consistency (add more cocoa to make thicker, or milk to make runnier) and you have a healthy chocolate dip for your fruit! Recently I have also started making protein mug cakes for dessert (e.g. http://nataliehodson.com/blog/the-best-protein-mug-cake/) which are ideal for late night snacks as the main macronutrient is protein, which will be slowly digested even once you go to sleep and will not be stored or converted in to fat. I hope these suggestions help! :-)
the trick is not to buy the crisps! A small amount of dark chocolate is good for you (honest) - just limit it to a couple of squares from a bar.
Has anyone actually managed to become sugar free? Could you let us know how you managed the evening nibbles? I'm fine during the day with chewing gum and healthy alternatives. But the evening munchies in front of the telly seem to always end up being chocolate and crisps! Help!
Cutting out sugar sounds like a bit of a big ask Tanith. I'm not sure I'd survive the first four days, let alone four weeks!
In my own experience, the only way to beat sugar cravings is by cutting out sugar completely. So no sweet tooth alternatives. If you can survive the first four weeks, you can be free of the pull of the sweet stuff altogether.
I can vouch for the sugar-free chewing gum idea. It keeps my mouth busy and the fresh feeling means I don't want to put anything unhealthy into my mouth. Also, if you want icecream try frozen banana blitzed in a food processor - - very yum and healthy!
Some good ideas here. But some of the healthy alternatives raise blood sugar levels as much as refined sugar. A fruit smoothie is packed with vitamins, but it should be remembered it's also high in sugar. If you really want to stop the sweet cravings you need to stop eating so much fruit.
My problem is that I've got the opposite to a sweet tooth! I crave salty foods and there aren't many healthy snacks that are as salty as I'd like. Every diet group I've ever joined had a great emphasis on sweet alternatives but what about us savoury fans?