Sugar cravings can derail just about any weight loss plan and when they strike, they can be fierce. They often show up after meals when you're used to eating dessert or in the late afternoon when your body craves a rush of energy to get you through the day. But these cravings don't have to be a dietary downfall—you can trick your body in healthy, diet-friendly ways. Next time you feel the urge, try one of these six healthy options instead of giving in to the bag of cookies:
Fruit is a great way to satisfy your sweet tooth while giving your body the vitamins and minerals it needs. Unlike most processed snacks, fruit includes fiber, which will help you feel fuller and more satisfied. If a simple apple doesn't sound appetizing, re-envision your snack. Bake apples in the oven to get a sweet apple pie-like treat. Mix berries with fat-free, plain Greek yogurt to add protein and rich creaminess. If you're craving salty and sweet at the same time, whip up a Mexican fruit salad by topping cut up pieces with a little salt, chili and lime.
There are plenty of herbal teas on the market that have a natural sweetness without any sugar. Steep up a cup of peppermint or naturally sweet rooibos tea for a warm treat. Besides being calorie-free, a steamy mug takes time to drink, making the whole experience more satisfying. In warmer months, pour over ice and add a slice of fresh lemon.
Although hard candies are basically all sugar, they are small and take a long time to dissolve in your mouth. The key to using a hard candy to satisfy your sugar craving is to limit yourself to just one piece. The sweetness of the sugar will satisfy your taste buds without dumping a large amount of empty calories into your system.
Peanut Butter Toast
Sometimes sugar cravings are really just our bodies telling us they need more energy. A piece of whole wheat toast (use light bread if you're counting calories) with 1 Tbsp. of natural, low-sugar peanut butter is sure to do the trick. The fiber in the bread combined with the protein in the peanut butter will fill you up, while the natural sweetness of the toast and peanuts will curb those cravings.
When nothing but a real sweet treat will do the trick, head out for a small cup of fat-free, sugar-free frozen yogurt. This snack provides calcium and other nutrients in a rich, creamy dessert. Be warned, some studies have shown that artificial sweeteners may lead to further sugar cravings. See how you feel a few hours later to know whether this choice is a good option for your body.
Sugar-free gum is actually good for you in that it encourages the mouth to produce more saliva, cleaning the teeth and helping fight cavities. Plus, its sweet taste and constant chewing will help satisfy your craving to eat something sweet without ruining your weight loss plans.