We all know that foods that are high in sugar and fat are rarely good for us. Removing as many of these as you can from your diet is often the advice given out by health and fitness professionals. But what about those of you with a sweet tooth?
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What is a sweet tooth?
The term sweet tooth is incredibly old, originating in the 14th century, when it referred to "toothsome," meaning delicious, foods. As you can probably imagine, having a sweet tooth is just an expression, not a medical condition.
What is true is that people react to sweet foods differently, and some people certainly enjoy sugary foods and drinks more than others.
Having a sweet tooth can make dieting harder and may lead to you eating more high sugar foods. But it is possible to wean yourself off sugary foods over time. A sweet tooth does not necessarily stay with you for life.
It's the same with salt. Add salt to every meal, and you will start needing more and more of it as your body adapts to the salty taste. Many tea or coffee drinkers who drop from two sugars to one or from one to none find the drinks very bitter at first. However, they grow accustomed to the less sugary brew in time and eventually start to find sugary tea or coffee too sweet.
How can you satisfy your sweet tooth while still following the principles of healthy eating?
1. Swap fizzy drinks for diet drinks
You may have heard that artificial sweeteners are dangerous and you should avoid them, but this is debatable advice. For starters, aspartame and similar sweeteners have been thoroughly tested on numerous occasions by pretty much every nation on Earth.
No country has banned them, and there is a reason why: they are safe! The hysteria surrounding artificial sweeteners can be traced back to a chain email unearthed as a hoax.
The only possible damage that diet fizzy drinks can do is erode tooth enamel. But that’s due to the carbonated drink itself, not the artificial sweetener. Aspartame may even protect your teeth!
Now, we're not telling you to go out and purchase a 24 pack of Diet Coke! However, if you are craving a fizzy drink, or something sweet, a diet fizzy drink is an excellent zero-calorie option that will satisfy your craving without putting your health at risk.
2. Eat some fruit
A common parental answer to “I’m hungry” has always been “Well, eat some fruit." This is a phrase guaranteed to trigger a tantrum in most children. But it’s an excellent bit of advice. Most fruit is filled with fructose, a natural sugar.
That means that fruit can satisfy a sugar craving while also providing vitamins and minerals and staying low in calories. We understand that an apple does not have the same appeal as a large tub of chocolate ice cream, but this is an article about eating healthily!
3. Explore the supplement possibilities
Have you ever had a protein bar? These are essentially chocolate bars that contain 12-15 grams of protein per serving! That’s an excellent choice for anyone over 40, as protein intake gets more important the older you get.
Protein bars aren’t exactly healthy, though some have had vitamins and minerals added. Still, they are healthier than regular chocolate bars. You could easily fit one protein bar into your day instead of a chocolate bar or pack of sweets, and you would be making a positive change.
Many supplement companies also sell sugar-free syrups. These use artificial sweeteners similar to aspartame (see step 1) and are zero calories. Pour a couple of spoonfuls of zero-calorie syrup onto Greek yoghurt, and you have a healthy, high protein breakfast that is sweet but sugar-free.
4. Manage your portions
Instead of removing all high sugar foods from your diet, why not just cut down on your portion sizes or snack frequency?
Let's say you consume five share size Mars bars and three Yorkies a week. You could make tremendous progress by removing all eight chocolate bars, but you’d end up craving them constantly.
Instead, what if you swapped your five share size Mars bars for three regular Mars bars? What if you switched your three Yorkie bars for one or even changed it for a protein bar?
You would still be making a positive move because you would be eating fewer chocolate bars each week. But you wouldn't give up on them entirely. As time progresses, you could cut down further, maybe add that apple we talked about earlier?
5. Go for quality, not quantity
This is similar to the above. We're not talking about removing all sweet foods from your diet; we're talking about making small changes. Giving yourself a weekly dessert or a treat to celebrate the weekend can help keep cravings away while still allowing you to maintain a healthy diet.
But instead of grabbing a multipack of Maltesers, why not get something smaller but more expensive? A small bar of luxurious dark chocolate made by a fancy local confectioner will probably cost more than the Maltesers. However, it will satisfy your cravings, taste amazing, and save you a lot of calories.
The same goes for non-sweet treats too, go for fancy treats rather than cheap and calorific. It’s a great way to have your cake and eat it too!
We also spoke to Bintu from Recipes from a Pantry, who told us: "My trick to satisfy a sweet tooth while eating healthy is to use honey or maple syrup instead of cane sugar. Both are lower on the glycemic index and contain healthy antioxidants, vitamins and minerals. And because they are sweeter than granulated sugar, you can use less when making your favorite sweet treats."