If I had to guess, I would say that more than half of you like sweets. Many of you would probably even go so far as to say that sweets are your downfall. You want to be healthy, but sometimes you love sweets even more than you want to be healthy. Hopeless? No! It never is.
The first thing you need to realize is that you are not alone. So many people, especially women, feel ashamed of their love for sweets, and even try to hide it. Binges late at night after everyone else has gone to bed are more common than you think. Loving sweets does not make you unhealthy. All of the shame and hiding does. There are two paths you can take to come out of hiding: Learn to embrace your sweet tooth, or take steps to quit your sugar addiction. These are two very different paths, and one is not better than the other. Which path you should take is going to depend on your personality, lifestyle, and goals.
Embrace Your Sweet Tooth
If you hide the fact that you indulge in sweets, you are pretty much acting like you have no control over it. You are also giving it a label as something negative, since you don’t want other people to know about it. When you hide it, you are probably also eating faster, and eating more. This can lead to weight gain, as well as feelings of exhaustion, guilt, and just feeling bad about yourself. You CAN learn to control how often you eat sweets and how much you eat. Enjoying sweets CAN be a part of a healthy lifestyle.
First, look at how often you are eating sweets. Is it every day? Well, guess what? It’s perfectly okay to indulge in something sweet every day. But next you need to look at how much you are eating. If it’s half a pan of brownies, or an entire carton of ice cream, you are going to have to scale that back. Hopefully, by allowing yourself to eat your sweets out in the open, you won’t feel the need to go over the top. Remind yourself that you can have another brownie, or another small bowl of ice cream the next day. This is not your last chance to eat sweets ever again. If you are bingeing on sweets more than once a day, then you may be dealing with more severe emotional issues. To help get you on the right path, it is a good idea to look into talking to a counselor. He or she can talk you through the issues that are leading you to binge eat, and give you some alternative ways to deal with those emotions.
Last, you need to look at the quality of your sweets. Ask yourself, “Do I really like those cookies? Or am I just eating them because they are there?” You should only be indulging in sweets that you absolutely love. Also, think about trying a healthier version of the food. Ice cream lover? Try frozen yogurt. Love brownies? Try making them with black beans (seriously). There are lots of ways to healthify treats. Plus, making your own treats and sweets is always going to be better than store-bought processed junk. You get to control the ingredients.
Now, think about the time of day you most crave sweets. That should be the time you allow yourself to indulge. This is only going to work if you have a plan, though. You can make up a quick little calendar, or just use the Notes app on your phone to plan your sweets for the week. Write down the time of day, what you plan to have, and the portion size. When you have a plan, you have a greater chance of being successful. If this seems like too much to do, realize that you don’t have to do it forever. Give it a month, and hopefully it just becomes habit. If you ever feel yourself slipping, go back to planning for a few weeks until you get back on track.
This approach can help you get your sweet tooth under control without depriving yourself. Just be sure to keep the rest of your diet balanced, and exercise regularly.
Quit Your Sugar Addiction
If you feel like embracing your sweet tooth is not going to work for you, then you can try to take steps to quit sugar altogether. Understand that you are probably not going to be able to eliminate all sugar from your diet completely, because it is in many different foods, but you can cut out all of the excess sugar from sweets.
Quitting sugar is not something I would recommend doing cold turkey. Sugar addiction has been compared to drug addiction, and it can be a very difficult habit to break. A slow weaning process is going to be more realistic. It might take many months before you can successfully overcome your sugar habit. If you try to go too fast, your body is going to feel pretty out of it, and you will set yourself up for more binges. If your sugar binges happen once a day, remove one day of sugar the first week. The next week, remove your sugar fix on two of the days, and so on until you are not eating sweets any of the days. If you slip up, be patient with yourself, and don’t give up. Keep trying.
In trying to quit eating excess sugar, you may think turning to sugar-free sweets is a good idea, but I caution you here. Artificial sweeteners are chemicals, and our main goal should always be to eat real, whole foods as much as possible. There is also evidence that fake sugars will not actually cure a sugar craving, and will only leaving you craving more sugar.
Stock your fridge and pantry with healthy snacks that are ready to eat. Some great options are fruit, cut up veggies, hummus, nuts, yogurt, whole grain crackers, and cheese sticks. Fruit is actually a great alternative to processed sweets, because it is naturally sweet. The best fruits to cure a sugar craving are pineapple, oranges, berries, peaches, and melons. Slowly start reducing the amount of sugary foods you are buying, like cookies, candy, and ice cream. If you don’t have it in the house, it’s a lot easier to reduce your sugar consumption.
Whether you aim to embrace your sweet tooth or quit your sugar addiction, you can make choices to make your lifestyle a little bit healthier. Your body will feel so good once you get your sugar intake under control. This is a big change, and it’s one that is completely worth the effort. If you feel overwhelmed with how to begin to conquer a sugar addiction, please feel free to contact me for a nutrition consultation.