They say the first step to solving a problem is acknowledging its existence, so today I am publicly acknowledging that I have struggled with my ability (or inability) to say no to d....dessert. Sounds kind of funny, especially coming from a dietitian, but it's MY reality and I can completely sympathize with all of my clients who have a serious case of sweet tooth. Truth: I cannot be trusted alone with a pint of ice cream - and sometimes I have to cover my eyes when I walk past a candy store. Okay fine, the latter is dramatic, but there really was a time in my life when I would frequent this "all natural" candy store on my block and I would try to justify my habit by reminding myself that this particular store doesn't use artificial ingredients or food dyes in their products. Eye roll.
So how do you break this viscous sugar cycle? I've heeded my own advice and implemented the following strategies, so I hope this is helpful to all of you who share my diet-downfall:
- Listen to your body: I've fortunately never suffered from stomach issues, so while many people may not be able to tolerate the lactose in ice cream, I was never one of those people. What I'm trying to say is that a massive stomach ache post ice cream never stopped me from diving in spoon first. BUT, I began to notice that my head work hurt after I ate too much sugar. Literally, my evening routine would look like: candy --> Advil --> bed. Eventually I succumbed to my reality that excess sugar was inducing my headaches (yes, that's a real thing) and my iron stomach may not forever remain iron at the rate I was popping Advil. Although not everyone reading this is destined to suffer from sugar-induced headaches, you should listen to your body both pre- and post dessert, because I can guarantee you will not be feeling as good afterwards.
- Stop kicking the can: In other words, GET STARTED NOW. Like, right now. Go into your fridge, or your pantry, or wherever you keep the goods, and toss them. No, you're not wasting food, candy isn't real food. In fact, sugar consumption is correlated with increased risk of chronic disease, including cancer. You're doing yourself a favor.
- Don't turn to the "Sugar-Free" alternative: Just because you shouldn't be eating regular Twizzlers doesn't give you the green light to buy the sugar-free Twizzlers. Junk food is junk food, and you're not actually breaking your junky habit! Plus, there's a good chance that your sugar-free candy is loaded with preservatives, food dyes, artificial ingredients, or sugar alcohols, which are often stomach irritants.
- Don't test yourself: Don't buy the ice cream (or the cookies, cakes, candy, etc.) Seriously, do not keep it in your home. You think you'll really be able to eat 4 m&ms and walk away? I'm not buying it. And you shouldn't either.
- Find sweetness in other things: No, I'm not going to tell you to go play with your dog or to take a walk the next time you have a sugar craving, because if you're anything like me you'll walk yourself right into the nearest ice cream shop. However, I am going to tell you that because you are human, it's natural to have cravings. You don't have to entirely deprive yourself, but you do have to make healthier choices. So here are some Tovita-approved products that you can feel good about enjoying:
- Sweet Dreams Dark Chocolate Rice Cakes: A serving of these sweet treats are 2 rice cakes, and serving has only 4 grams of sugar (and 2 grams of fiber!). Each serving comes individually wrapped, which reduces the risk that you'll eat the whole box.
- Sweet Cinnamon Roasted Bean Crisps: Get yourself a 100 calorie pack of these roasted bean crisps! With 6 grams of fiber, 7 grams of protein, and only 1 gram of sugar, you won't feel an ounce of guilt. If you end up buying a larger bag, try not to eat the whole thing - not because I'm worried that you'll overdose on sugar - but the high fiber content may be a lot for your stomach to handle...
- Fruit Roll-ups for adults (well, probably intended for kids) also known as Bear YoYos. If you're simply craving candy, this is your best bet. These natural "fruit roll-ups" are made with real fruit and have no added sugar, or added anything for that matter. 1 packet is 60 calories and has 8 grams of sugar.
- Use Your Fruit! No this option doesn't come pre-packaged in a supermarket, and yes, it requires about 6 minutes of your time and effort, and some sort of blender, but it's WORTH IT! Try some of these smoothie recipes that really will satisfy your sweet tooth. Bonus: Feel free to snack on some frozen fruit while you're concocting!