Sometimes, we know exactly what’s behind a sugar craving – emotional eating because you didn't finish a project, you had a fight with a friend, or you just need cake... And other times a sugar craving creeps up on you seemingly out of nowhere, and turns you into that monster. Fear not friends, here are a few ways to decode and fool your sweet tooth this April Fools Day!
Tune In To Your Cravings
Are there specific foods or flavors you find yourself craving? Is there a certain time of day or situation it happens most (looking at you 'elevenses'!)?
Noting a pattern between, say, a candy craving and that weekly staff meeting gives you some valuable information to work with. Acknowledge your weaknesses, but don’t judge yourself – we all have something we can’t say no to. The old saying, 'everything in moderation' is a good rule of thumb to live by without driving yourself nuts!
Don’t Skip Meals
It’s hard to think clearly when we’re hungry. Beyond that, balanced meals keep our blood sugar stable, so our body is less likely to call out for a quick carb fix (hello, sugar) to keep us going. Keep healthy snacks on hand and make sure you have some protein at each meal to help you stay full and energized.
A healthy snack during the day is trail mix. A few almonds and raisins mixed together will satisfy your sugar cravings as well as give you a boost of Vitamin E and magnesium, which reduces stress.
Do Skip The Sugar-Free Stuff
Aside from all the other ways they don’t do us any favors, artificial sweeteners have been noted to train our taste buds to expect super-sweet foods because they’re so concentrated.
Opt for seltzer instead of diet soda and refrain from loading up on the sugar subs in the colored packets. Whether you go cold turkey or gradually cut back, you may notice a change in your sugar cravings over time.
Go For Naturally Sweet Foods
Fruit and sweet veggies like carrots and bell peppers are great ways to add a sweet note to your meals and snacks. You can also add flavor to foods like plain yogurt by adding cinnamon or stirring in a teaspoon of fruit juice-sweetened jam, maple syrup, or honey.
If there’s a certain food you absolutely can’t resist, don’t torture yourself. Make room for it once or twice a week. For example, if you’re fantasizing about an afternoon ice cream cone, skip the roll that comes with your salad at lunch, or choose a savory over sweet breakfast. If you’re going to dinner at a restaurant you love, say “no thanks” to bread and wine, and order that amazing chocolate cake for dessert instead!
You can also work a little of what you crave into an otherwise healthy meal or snack, and easily fool your monster sweet tooth:
• Have a small piece of your favorite treat with fruit and/or a tablespoon of nuts.
• Crumble a small cookie or piece of chocolate into plain Greek yogurt.
• Chocolate lovers might enjoy a tablespoon of cocoa powder mixed into that plain yogurt with cinnamon and vanilla extract. Add a few chocolate or white chocolate chips.
• An apple or a tablespoon of dried cranberries added to a salad or hot cereal is great when you’ve got a hankering for sweet-and-sour stuff.
• If crunchy sweets are your thing, have a single-serving bag of kettle corn or a rice cake (great topped with part-skim ricotta and cinnamon or a tablespoon of peanut butter). A sliced apple, bell peppers, or jicama sticks also deliver a satisfying sweet crunch.
Change What You Can
It’s a cliché for a reason: 'Out of sight out of mind'. If you can’t resist a colleague’s candy bowl, take a different path to the bathroom or printer. If that’s not an option, pop a piece of peppermint gum in your mouth or keep your hands busy with a stress ball. If you’ve got a donut shop staring at you from across the street all day, try putting a plant or a favorite photo in your line of sight so you’re less likely to stare longingly out the window.