Shake Off Sugar

For most of us, our relationship with sugar is bittersweet. We all know it’s a dieting no-no. And, these days, foods ranging from cereals to barbecue sauce all contain some sort of sugar.

The problem is that when we eat sugar (especially the refined and processed variety), it’s almost immediately broken down into glucose and pumped into the bloodstream, giving us that  “sugar high,” usually followed by a crash and burn.

But how much is too much? And, is there a way to curb that sweet tooth without overdosing? Here are some doable tips for giving sugar its just-desserts.

Trick Or Treat?

The trick with desserts is to acknowledge your cravings and make informed choices about your indulgences. Sweets are not necessarily off-limits; the occasional dessert can still fit into your healthy lifestyle. Here’s how:

  • Be prepared. Anticipate your cravings, especially around holidays. During these times, eat a bit more protein, chew some peppermint gum or suck on a piece of hard candy to keep your cravings in check.
  • Savor the flavor. Register every creamy bite of your chosen treat very, very slowly. The experience of the food is a big part of the satisfaction derived, and you’ll need less food to be satisfied if you enjoy it slowly.
  • Be choosy. If a treat isn’t absolutely fabulous, stop eating it! Why waste calories on a piece of chocolate or slice of cake that’s just OK? If you’re going to go for it, have something divine. Anything less is simply not worth it.
  • Dine for dessert. When you sit down to a meal and know you intend to have dessert, eliminate the starch group from that meal. Your dessert here will count as a starch.
  • Be guilt-free. Eat your treat, enjoy it slowly and smile afterwards contentedly. Instead of making sweets off-limits, change your relationship with sweets so you control them instead of them controlling you.

Swap Your Sweets

Here are a couple of quick, easy snack substitutions that hit the spot. You won’t miss the extra calories:

1) I Scream, You Scream . . .  The average 1-cup serving of ice cream packs 540 calories and your entire day’s allotment of saturated fat!

Instead?  Try Skinny Cow Fudge Bars. They’re creamy, tasty, just 100 calories, and they’re not chock-full of artificial sweeteners.

2) Does it really satisfy? Trying to satisfy a chocolate craving with a candy bar out of a vending machine is a recipe for disappointment (and unnecessary calories).

Instead?  Try 60% Cacao Dark Chocolate. If you’re a “chocoholic,” why settle for less?  When you go for the good stuff, it’s about quality over quantity. Savor a couple of squares of dark chocolate that’s 60% cacao (or greater). You’ll satisfy your craving and get the side benefit of dark chocolate’s natural polyphenols.

3) Honey, please!  Looking to spread some sweet stuff on your whole wheat toast, or stir into your cup of hot tea? Skip the honey.

Instead?  Try Agave Nectar. It won’t cause an insulin surge and can be satisfying in very small amounts.

4) But it’s lowfat!  While “fruit on the bottom” yogurt can be delicious and, yes, even lowfat, make sure you check those labels. They’re often a hideaway for tons of extra sugar.

Instead?  Try Greek Yogurt. With half the sugar and three times the protein of “regular” yogurt, this smooth, creamy treat is a guilt-free delight. For extra sweetness (the good kind), stir in some fresh raspberries and blueberries for an antioxidant and fiber kick.  (And go ahead, sprinkle on some dark chocolate shavings – just not too much!)

EARN Your Sweets.

Consuming calories (yes, even the occasional extras) is simply part of life – and so is the need to burn them off.

Walk It Out. Sugary goodies don’t do much to make us feel better – but they’re often used as comfort foods anyway. Next time you’re overwhelmed or feeling blue, instead of reaching for the cookie dough, try getting just ten minutes of exercise. When it comes to boosting self-esteem and clearing the mind, sometimes a little endorphin boost is just what the doctor ordered. And, the extra calorie-burn doesn’t hurt either.

If you need to beat the heat and want to try an indoor walk with an outdoor feel, try my “Power Walk For Weight Loss” DVD. It recreates the feeling of escape that you get from a walk in the great outdoors – and you can experience it in your very own living room.  How sweet is that?