All of my family really likes sweets and I've tried to not have them as often anymore. If I do eat sweets, I usually will have some dates or a Clif Bar, but sometimes I'll just eat a huge bowl of ice cream or cookies, or eat a whole pan of brownies.
Why do you think I crave sweets and what are some solutions to stop craving them?
Lisa - About.com User
Another reason for the sugar cravings may be due to serotonin, which is a brain chemical that makes you feel content and happy. Eating sugar may increase the absorption of an amino acid called tryptophan, which helps your body make serotonin, so it's possible that eating something sweet may make you feel happy. The opposite might be true then too -- avoiding sweets may make you feel crabby.
Sugar has calories, but no additional nutritional value, and the calories can add up fast - each gram of sugar has four calories (here's how you convert grams of sugar to teaspoons). Many sweet treats also contain unhealthy amounts of saturated and trans-fats.
Is some sugar acceptable? Sure, in moderation. Choosemyplate.gov allows you to have a few discretionary calories each day. However, if you are overweight or obese, you may need to decrease your total calorie consumption, which will also decrease your discretionary calorie allowance.
Enjoying an occasional high-calorie sweet treat probably won't hurt you if you're at a healthy weight, but it shouldn't become a daily habit. If you're concerned about your weight, you can use my BMI calculator to see if you are overweight and my Calorie Calculator to see how many calories you need each day. I've also got some tips for helping you with excessive sugar cravings:
- Get some exercise. You may feel better if you go for a walk or get some other type of exercise. Exercise will stimulate brain chemicals that will improve your mood.
- Sugar cravings may lessen if you decrease the number of calories you eat each day, so if you are eating too many calories, cut back.
- Don't tempt yourself by keeping high-calorie sweets in the house.
- Don't skip meals, which can make cravings worse.
- Keep your meals simple. The more side dishes and flavors you include in your meals, the more likely you are to overeat.
- Choose healthy side dishes with a sweet flavor, such as sweet potatoes.
Add one of these sweet and nutritious side dishes to your meal:
- Baked Pears with Cranberries and Walnuts
- Melon Berry Medley
- Roasted Butternut Squash
- Spicy Apple Glazed Carrots
- Mashed Sweet Potatoes
- Sweet Potatoes and Onions
Try these deliciously sweet ideas:
For example, my favorite dessert is strawberries and blueberries. These berries have lots of vitamin C, healthy antioxidants and fiber that helps to fill me up. I add a little bit of "lite" whipped topping for a creamy texture and a sprinkling of walnuts or almonds for crunch. This berry dessert satisfies my sweet tooth without sabotaging my diet and has a lot of nutritional power.
Here are some other sweet and healthy desserts:
- Low Fat Pear-Cranberry Strudel
- Crispy Rice Treats
- Low Fat Blackberry and Apple Tart
- Chocolate Dipped Strawberries
- Caramel Baked Apples
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